The golfing world paid a handsome tribute to one of the game’s greatest champions at Wentworth Club on Monday when the Olé Seve! invitational event raised a staggering £618,168 in aid of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation (SBF).
Olé Seve!in Aid of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, co-hosted by Wentworth Club Chairman Richard Caring and European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady, brought 24 leading professionals and their amateur teams together for a celebration of the life of Seve Ballesteros, who died on May 7 at the age of 54.
The pro-am and subsequent auction in Wentworth Club’s magnificent ballroom raised a grand total of £618,168 for the SBF, supporting Cancer Research UK. The sum helped swell to over £1.3 million the amount now raised since Ballesteros launched his Foundation and formed a strong partnership with Cancer Research UK.
Local hero Ross Fisher and his team of Galib Virani, Francois Joseph Fury and Steven Ho won the pro-am competition with an 18 under par score before auctioneer Jonny Gould took the stage to help engineer a rousing finale to an evening which also had its sombre moments in the form of a moving video about the devastating effects of brain cancer.
The 24 players, including five Major Champions, helped make the day a spectacular success through their efforts on and off the course, as nine top of the range auction items raised just under £350,000, with two very special items closely connected to Seve attracting the highest bids of the night.
A Rolex Daytona wrist watch once owned by Ballesteros was auctioned for £65,000 with a gold Ping Putter, a replica of the iconic model wielded by the Spaniard when he won The Open at St Andrews in 1984, raising £55,000.
Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Research UK, said: “Seve’s impact on ordinary people was tremendous and he wanted to help these people through his Foundation. Sadly, brain cancer was the one bunker Seve couldn’t get out of, but all the funds raised here are ring fenced for research into this form of cancer.”
Ivan Ballesteros, nephew of Seve and long-time spokesman for the Ballesteros family, commented: “The Seve Ballesteros Foundation is Seve’s biggest legacy. He fought all the way and lost the battle 16 days ago, but he started the Foundation for research so that people can win these battles.”
It was left to Ballesteros’s great friend and confidant, José Maria Olazábal, to close the function with an emotional speech in honour of the five-time Major Champion.
He said: “Unfortunately, we lost a great man and a dear friend, but it is not a sad time because Seve lived life to the full. I never saw any other player with his heart and determination. He was a pioneer. He opened doors and changed the image of golf into the truly exciting game it is today. He was a true genius.
“When cancer struck he had two goals – the first was never to give up and the second was to help as many people as possible. That’s why he started up his Foundation and is why this is a very important day. Seve can’t be here but I am sure he would be proud of what everyone has achieved today.”