The memory of Seve Ballesteros will forever be cherished, but Miguel Angel Jimenez intends to put all emotional thoughts of one of his closest friends to the back of his mind after moving into early contention at the Open Championship.
The swashbuckling Ballesteros, a three-time winner of the tournament during a glittering career and one of European golf’s most charismatic figures, died in May at the age of 54, following a two-and-a-half year battle with a brain tumour.
His passing has been marked in a variety of ways across the Sandwich site this week with billboards featuring his iconic fist-pump at St Andrews in 1984, programme tributes and a book of condolence that was signed by all the competitors.
Jimenez, the 47-year-old from Malaga, posted a bogey-free, four-under-par 66 yesterday and, while the loss of his dear compadre remains raw, the 18-time European Tour winner, who has yet to plunder a major title, believes it is now time to look to the future.
“The tribute to Seve is very nice, because we miss him, and we have to thank him for what he gave to golf throughout his life,” said Jimenez, who was vice-captain to Ballesteros during Europe’s 1997 Ryder Cup win and has played in four of the biennial contests himself.
“We all miss Seve, but we need to keep moving on. It’s nice that they [the tributes] have been made for him, but now I think it is a moment to concentrate on the golf tournament. We are human and it’s the moment to say, ok, go.”
Fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who squeezed into this week’s championship by finishing second in the BMW International Open three weeks ago, began his campaign with a level-par 70 and indicated that he too is trying to move on in this, the first Open Championship since Seve’s death.
“Obviously, he did come to mind,” said Garcia, who was runner-up in the 2007 Open at Carnoustie and tied fifth in both 2005 and 2006. He’s going to be missed. It’s hard enough already, but you have to try and keep your attention on the right things.”