Funeral Wednesday for Seve Ballesteros
Masters Moments: 1980
PEDRENA, Spain -- Seve Ballesteros' funeral will be held in his hometown on Wednesday, bringing Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and other golf luminaries to the small Spanish fishing village to honor the five-time major winner.
Top-ranked Lee Westwood, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal also are expected to attend the service remembering Ballesteros, who died Saturday from complications of a cancerous brain tumor. He was 54.
Wednesday's funeral will be held at the 400-capacity church of San Pedro de Pedrena. Ballesteros' ashes will be placed underneath a magnolia tree in the family garden.
The golfing great first will be honored by several young boys and girls in a procession wearing a replica of the navy blue outfit that Ballesteros wore for his first British Open win in 1979. Fittingly, they will each hold a 3-iron, the first club he used as a child.
"The funeral rites will be as simple as those for any neighbor from the village," Ballesteros' brother, Baldomero, said. "He was born here and here he will remain."
Three big screens have been set up outside the ceremony, while Spanish state TV will broadcast the event live from the village of 1,500.
Ballesteros was perhaps Spain's first major sports star, helping to transform European golf by winning three British Open and two Masters titles plus a record 50 European Tour victories. He was also player-captain of the successful 1997 Ryder Cup team.
"He broke the mold," former Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton said. "We were told to hit the fairway, not to make mistakes, while Seve taught us about the genius of recovery.
"He was a genius, an artist -- the first true golf artist."
"You've never seen a person compete from the places he played from," Tiger Woods said Tuesday in Florida where he was preparing for this week's Players Championship tournament.
Phil Mickelson, who also has a remarkable ability to escape from anywhere, recalled the time he played a practice round with Ballesteros at Torrey Pines when Lefty was still an amateur.
"I enjoyed that time with him because I saw his artistry," Mickelson said.
Mickelson, who is also preparing for TPC Sawgrass, specifically remembered the way Ballesteros played the par-3 11th on the South Course at Torrey Pines, when the pin was cut back and to the right. That's typically a 5-iron or a 6-iron.
"He would take a 3-iron ... a big 30- to 50-yard rounded slice that would land in the middle of the green and then side spin over to the hole," Mickelson said. "It just opened my eyes how many different ways you can get to some of these pins. And I loved watching that because it showed me that it's possible, that it doesn't have to be this robotic way of fairways, middle of the green and so forth."
Meanwhile, in Ballesteros' hometown of Pedrena on Tuesday, many houses brandished Spanish flags with black ribbons attached. A small shrine could be seen outside the family home, where notes, candles, a pair of golf shoes and even a 3-iron were left as tributes.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Golf legend Seve Ballesteros -- who passed away Saturday at age 54 -- was part magician, part escape artist and all champion. Bob Harig