By: Claudia Mazzucco – On May 21, 1995, Severiano Ballesteros captured his last tournament in the European Tour, the Peugeot Spanish Open. He shot 70, 67, 66, and 71 for a total of 274, 14 under par at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.
Fact: It was the third victory of his career in the Spanish Open and the first time he had won it in ten years. Apart from the Europe’s miraculous victory at the Ryder Cup in Oak Hill, he enjoyed another win that year: the Tournoi Perrier in Paris, at Saint-Cloud, with Jose Maria Olazabal.
Ballesteros went into the last round in second place, one-shot behind the leader. He made three bogeys in a row. “The ball seemed to have a will of its own,” he said. Luckily for him no one could take advantage and a birdie at the 4th took him out in 38. Overnight leader Gordon Brand Jr. made bogeys at the third and fifth but he still held the lead on 12 under.
Spaniards, Jose “Pepin” Rivero and Ignacio “Nacho” Garrido, were out in 33 and 34 respectively, and tied Ballesteros at 11 under par. While Rivero gained the outright lead with a birdie at the 12th, Garrido matched it with two birdies and one bogey coming home. But Ballesteros birdied the 14th, 15th and 18th to beat Rivero and Garrido by two strokes. Gordon Brand Jr. tied for third with 277.
Seve added, “A birdie at the 14th put me level with the leaders. I suddenly seemed to have wings and at the next hole my sand wedge shot left the ball a meter and half from the pin for another birdie. I played practically the same shot at the 18th and that is how I managed to win the Open.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Seve’s problems with those managing the European Tour, his growing family – his three children were born during this time – and his back pains comprised a set of negative factors that ushered in the twilight of his golfing career. He did not longer dominate the European Tour and at the same time he started to feel pressure from a new generation of players and the accelerated changes golf was undergoing as an international sport. Although his best period was in the past, the end of his career was then too painful to imagine. Seve could not imagine it at all. He remained hopeful that he was still capable of winning a major tournament up to 2005.
Claudia M. Mazzucco is a researcher at Golf Channel and teacher of History of Golf at the PGA of Argentina, in Buenos Aires. She is the author of Legendary Lessons (2016), El Golf de los Tiempos, A Novel (2002) and The Guide of Golf Courses in Argentina (2003). She received the PGA Award from the PGA of Argentina in 2005