NEWPORT, October 5 – Ailing Spanish golfing legend Seve Ballesteros may have been absent for Europe's thrilling 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 Ryder Cup victory over the United States here on Monday but to many of the winning team he was their inspiration.
The 53-year-old, still recovering at his home in Santander from the brain operations he had after the discovery of a tumour in 2008, had given a rousing telephone address to the team last week telling them "Go get them (the Americans) so hard that they will all be caddies in the future."
European captain Colin Montgomerie – who played under Ballesteros’ winning captaincy in 1997 in Valderrama, Spain – revealed at the closing ceremony the photograph of Ballesteros with compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal, who was a vice-captain here, that had adorned the team room.
Indeed Ballesteros, who played in the Ryder Cup eight times and is largely seen as the inspiration behind ending the US dominance, issued a message on his website to congratulate the team, including 46-year-old compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez, who secured a fabulous four and three win over Bubba Watson.
"Congratulations Europe!," Ballesteros told his official website.
"What a magnificent event! Great Ryder Cup!"
He said it was never going to be easy to beat the Americans this year, and he was very happy for Montgomerie.
"Congratulations to all of you!" he said.
"It has been very exciting until the last minute.
"I have enjoyed watching great golf from both sides over the weekend. As I said on Thursday, the more difficult it is to win, the sweeter victory tastes.
"I’m sure all the players and European supporters are enjoying it.
"Well done Europe!"
Englishman Ian Poulter dedicated the win to Ballesteros.
"Seve’s at home watching this and he can’t be with us right now but every player has watched what he’s done for European Tour golf," said Poulter.
"It means everything for him.
"We played from the heart today, we brought this trophy back. It’s a special day."
Spanish vice-captain Sergio Garcia echoed those sentiments.
"I hope he’s proud of us. It meant so much to us for him to call us," said Garcia, a regular Ryder Cup player but whose poor form prompted him to take time out this season and he asked Montgomerie to be a vice-captain.
"This victory is for everyone in Europe and its definitely for him."