Combining the eternal appeal of Seve Ballesteros with the star power of Ryder Cup hero Jon Rahm has drawn more than 600 children to participate in the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ programme in Spain.
While the youngsters know all about Seve through watching his videos and hearing the stories of his feats, they were keen to get to know Rahm and played golf with their hero at Meaztegi Golf, a Seve-designed public golf course in Ortuella, a mining town near Bilbao.
After competing in five qualifiers during the summer, 80 boys and girls under 16 made it to the final event of the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ series, which is a joint initiative by Jon Rahm and the Seve Ballesteros Foundation aimed at introducing younger generations to the game of golf and its values.
This year, the inaugural sub-16 tour featured five qualifying events at Pedreña, Basozábal, Ulzama, Neguri and Larrabea with the winners earning spots in the final at Ortuella.
The Drive, Chip, Putt format, which is used for the kids event at the Masters each year, is key to its success as it’s exciting to watch and attractive and enjoyable for the youngsters.
In addition to organizers Jon Rahm and Javier Ballesteros, a very special group of volunteers joined the initiative guiding the contestants through the various stages of the competition: Miguel Ballesteros, Eriz Rahm and professionals Ángel Matallana, Iñigo Moral, Álvaro Celles, Jesús Legarrea, Íñigo Urquizu, Mikel Galdós, Chisco Lagarto, Alfredo García Heredia and Ander Padura.
Daniela San José, Ignacio Irízar, Lucía Núñez, Xanet Izquierdo, Marina and Patricia Sabin, Santiago Jáuregui and Mikel Enazábel were the winners of this inaugural edition.
After the prize giving, Jon Rahm and Javier Ballesteros held a press conference with Seve very much present in the minds of all.
On John Rahm
“Jon has said many times that my father is his hero, and they actually have many things in common; both are thoroughbreds and have a special passion. Jon is the present and the future in golf, and has what it takes to win Majors and many tournaments. Both are long hitters and Jon has magic around the greens, as did my father. Both have special hands, and that is a big asset in golf.”
On the Seve Ballesteros Foundation
“We are taking things slowly but surely because we want to be very clear in our own minds about the purpose and destination of our father’s legacy. We have two foundational aims: brain tumour research through the laboratory that bears his name, and collaboration with the National Cancer Research Centre CNIO. We have built a special facility at the Hospital Valdecilla in Santander where the children patients can play golf, and we also collaborate with the Aladina Foundation.”
“For me it will always be the ’84 Open that gave origin to the logo of our father pumping the air with his fist. The British crowds showed how much they loved him, and winning the Open at St Andrews – You couldn’t ask for more!
“In 2006 I caddied for him. The first day we played with Ian Poulter and Shaun Micheel, and he got such an incredible ovation that it gave me the goose bumps. He only played that year because I asked him to. I was 16, and that week will be forever with me.”
On Seve Ballesteros
“Joining my name with Seve’s is an honour and a dream. Seve has always been my hero and my model. I am delighted when people say that that I am like him in some ways because I want to follow in his footsteps. When the younger golfers watch me in video in the future, I would like to make them feel what Seve did for me. I am happy to promote golf amongst children and I take it as my mission for the future of golf. Hopefully this initiative will continue to grow.”
The children: “This morning, when we came into the room packed with kids and I saw the admiration, the excitement and the joy in their faces; when they all came for autographs, I realized the purpose of all this. If they go home believing that they can go far, some of them will make it. If this initiative continues, some kid is sure to appear who is talented and motivated enough to reach the top in golf.”
On a very special moment
“On Sunday at the Ryder Cup, just before my last putt a spectator shouted: “¡Viva Seve!” – I couldn’t think of a better moment on a golf course.”
On Seve’s videos
“One of my favourites is a 45-minute video of the back nine of his ’79 Open victory, the first he won. He played with Hale Irwin, saving pars and making birdies from all over the place. He celebrates the birdie on 13 as if he had already won. Just his way of walking was incredible, and Irwin waving the white handkerchief – Fantastic!”
On Sunday at the 2018 Open de España
“I felt really proud because I have been fortunate enough to be Spanish champion in the cadet, junior and boy’s categories, and I very much wanted to win as a professional at the Centro Nacional, the home of the Spanish Federation, where I spent a lot of time as a junior. It was the most difficult tournament to win because I had to combine my desire to win with the expectations of the crowd. I have never felt such a support for each and every one of my shots, and it was hard to keep up with that. When I finally made it, I was mentally drained.”
“Seve & Jon golf for kids” has the institutional backing of the Bizkaia Provincial Council and the unconditional support of the Tamoin company. It also enjoys the collaboration of TaylorMade, the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and the Autonomous Federations of Cantabria, Navarre and the Basque Country, Real Golf de Pedreña, Real Nuevo Club de Golf Basozábal, Club de Golf Larrabea, Club de Golf Ulzama and Real Sociedad de Golf de Neguri.