Golf-Masters-Letter from Ballesteros read at champions' dinner
AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 8 |
AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 8 (Reuters) - Seve Ballesteros stole the show from afar at the U.S. Masters champions' dinner with an emotional message to his fellow green-jacket winners delivered by compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal.
Back home in Madrid recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumour, Ballesteros was unable to attend Tuesday's function hosted by last year's champion Trevor Immelman and limited to past winners and guests.
The popular Spaniard, Masters champion in 1980 and 1983 and one of golf's most charismatic figures, made his presence felt through a letter.
Like everything that occurs at Augusta National, details of the dinner first hosted by Ben Hogan in 1953 are kept private but club chairman Billy Payne decided to break his own rule and confirm some details during his annual news conference on Wednesday.
"I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about it, because I'm an invited guest," Payne told reporters. "Jose Maria Olazabal read a letter from Seve to his fellow champions.
"It was very emotional, very loving and as it was read, you could feel in the air the reciprocation from his friends and former champions, going all the way back to Spain.
"It was an amazing, amazing moment."
A week ago, Ballesteros told the sports newspaper Marca (www.marca.com) he had been making good progress in his recovery but still faced the biggest battle of his life to get well.
The 51-year-old five-times major winner has undergone four operations and several rounds of chemotherapy since his collapse at Madrid airport in October.
"This year we have paused to express our heartfelt affections and prayers for the complete recovery of our 1980 and 1983 champion Seve Ballesteros," said Payne during his opening remarks. "Seve Ballesteros is a true champion and fierce competitor.
"Seve continues to inspire us all with his passion and his determination. We look forward to his return to Augusta."
(Editing by Clare Fallon. To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this