Column: Ballesteros deserves better than no-shows

Honoring the memory of Seve Ballesteros, the Seve Trophy tournament has suffered from some notable no-shows in 2013.

Seve Ballesteros deserves better. Much better.

This week’s Seve Trophy at Saint-Nom-La-Breteche in Paris is a sad reflection on some of Europe’s top players who have decided not to play in an event to remember Europe’s greatest, most charismatic player.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie is right in denouncing seven of his Ryder Cup teammates who have opted out of the event. Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter qualified for the GB & I team but won’t be in Paris. Sergio Garcia qualified for the European team but has also declined to play. So, too, has FedEx Cup winner Henrik Stenson.

“I think it’s extremely disappointing that a lot of the guys are not playing,” Lawrie said. “It’s disappointing for everyone involved – for the Tour, who have done a great job putting it on; and for Seve and his family.

“I mean, my God, most of us are out there playing because of what Seve did years ago. I would walk to Paris to play on the team next week.”

Sad that others don’t share Lawrie’s point of view.

Many seem to have forgotten what Seve did for the European Tour. His swashbuckling style of play and charisma helped bring sponsors to the table and increased prize money. He helped open doors in the United States by winning the Masters, the first European to do so. Europe’s elite probably wouldn’t currently be earning colossal sums of money if not for Seve.

It’s not even a year since some of the aforementioned Ryder Cup players were invoking Seve’s spirit at Medinah, as Europe stormed back to win the Cup. Yet those same players who pointed to Seve’s image on their sleeves won’t play in a tournament dedicated to his memory.

Yes, it’s a long season. True, Europe’s best can’t play in every one, but you’d have thought more top players would have made an effort to honor Seve’s memory. Especially when many of them will accept appearance money to turn up to play in pretty meaningless tournaments in far-flung corners of the world. Have they forgotten it was Seve who waged war with the European Tour to make sure he and other top Europeans could be paid appearance money?

This issue revives the debate about a more lasting legacy to Seve’s memory. The European Tour needs to come up with something more fitting. The Tour should ditch its logo depicting Harry Vardon and go with Seve’s image instead. No disrespect to Vardon or his family – after all, Europe already hands the Vardon Trophy to the leading money winner – but Seve’s image is more representative of a modern European Tour he helped build.

Those players not competing in Paris this week better have a good excuse. Those who don’t should hang their heads in shame.

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