Valderrama visionary Jaime Ortiz-Patino, 82, dies
Jaime Ortiz-Patino, who landed the Ryder Cup for continental Europe in 1997 at his Valderrama course in Spain, died Jan. 3 in a hospital in Marbella, according to the European Tour. He was 82. No cause of death was disclosed.
Patino, known as "Jimmy," the owner and honorary president at Valderrama, was a revered figure in Spanish golf. In addition to the Ryder Cup, the European Tour played 16 of its season-ending Volvo Masters, two World Golf Championship events and two Andalucia Masters tournaments at Valderrama. Over the years, a who's-who of golf – Nick Faldo, Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Graeme McDowell, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods among them – won on the Robert Trent Jones-designed course, attesting to the greatest of the layout and Patino, its visionary.
“His foresight and dedication to the game through the Volvo Masters and, of course, The Ryder Cup, was legendary, as was his dedication to excellence in terms of the preparation of a golf course," said George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour. "Nobody had seen a golf course presented the way Valderrama was. He raised the bar in that respect. He was also a gentleman and he will be sadly missed.”
Spaniard Angel Gallardo, the tour's vice chairman and a former touring pro, called Patino "the soul of golf in Europe."
“He has done a lot not only for Spanish golf but also for European golf,” Gallardo said.
Countryman Jose Maria Olazabal said: “He was a man with a strong character who did not doubt when he wanted to get something done. He gave his all in everything he did; his full effort and energy to achieve his goals.
“Valderrama is his masterpiece, his legacy. He wanted to make it a very special place, a unique place, and he did it. He put Valderrama and that part of Andalucia on the golfing map. Through the Volvo Masters, the American Express Championship and The Ryder Cup, he presented Andalucia to the whole world as a great golfing destination.
“At the 1997 Ryder Cup he was close to the team, and he used to talk a lot with Seve (Ballesteros, the late Spanish star). He wanted every single detail to be precise, and he tried so hard to make everything perfect. He even used to get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to work with the maintenance team and help cut the greens! Not many people would have done that, but it perfectly showed his character. We will miss him.”
Sergio Garcia, who won the 2011 Andalucia Masters at Valderrama, said: “This is a very sad day not just for Spain but for the whole of the golfing world.”
Patino took a lifelong interest in course maintenance and trained himself to the point where he oversaw day-to-day greenkeeping of Valderrama. In 1999, he received the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's Old Tom Morris Award, the maintenance industry's highest honor.
Born to Bolivian parents in Paris, Patino amassed an extensive collection of golf art and artifacts that captured the history of the game over the centuries. The collection of clubs, balls, prints, books and manuscripts, ceramics, photographs and paintings was auctioned at Christie's in London last year.
He is survived by his sons Felipe and Carlos and four grandchildren.
The European Tour contributed to this report.