On This Day: How Seve’s iconic dance of delight at St Andrews echoed down the decades

Magic moment: Seve Ballesteros roars with delight and punches the air after winning the 1984 Open at St Andrews. (Picture: PA)
Magic moment: Seve Ballesteros roars with delight and punches the air after winning the 1984 Open at St Andrews. (Picture: PA)
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It remains to this day one of the most iconic celebrations in the history of golf, the unbridled joy and the dramatic fist pump of one of the greatest players to ever grace the game.

On July 22, 1984, Severiano Ballesteros sunk a 20-foot putt along the 18th green at St Andrews to deny Tom Watson the chance at continuing his bid for a third consecutive Open title, and so claim the Claret Jug for himself for a second time.

It was a fitting end to a duel between two of golf’s greatest.

The putt itself was typical Seve, seemingly off-line and going nowhere before veering right and dropping into the hole from the right edge.

The reaction it elicited from its architect was pure adrenalin and pure theatre.

Seve punches his right hand across his body and lets out a roar of delight.

He always said that was the sweetest moment in his career, winning at St Andrews, making that putt to beat Tom Watson.

Jose Maria Olazabal

He then rhythmically punches his fist up and down and bends his knees in time, chanting his delight in his native Spanish tongue, before standing upright and thrusting his arm forward in delight, turning to sections of the galleries to repeat the motion.

The beaming smile from ear to ear is replicated on the faces of everyone crowded around the 18th green, straining every sinew to witness history in the making.

Seve’s delight is borne out of his sheer love for the Open Championship, a tournament he cherished and one that marked the first and last majors he won in 1979 and 1988, both at Royal Lytham.

His victory 33 years ago was extra special because it came on the hallowed turf at the Home of Golf.

He had already played a wondrous shot on the 17th moments earlier, taking on the pot bunker at the front of the green with an approach shot from the rough that carried 200 yards before nestling just shy of the road that runs behind the famous putting surface.

What is chrystalised in the mind’s eye about that whole picture is Seve’s appearance, the Spanish matador looking resplendent in a royal blue jumper over a white shirt and its huge collars, typical of the era.

That image has become synonymous with European golf. At the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, the first since Seve’s death less than a year earlier, the European team wore navy blue and white for the Sunday singles and had the silhouette of his St Andrews jig of 1984 emblazoned on their caps.

“He always said that was the sweetest moment in his career,” said Ryder Cup captain and Seve’s old mate Jose Maria Olazabal, “winning at St Andrews, making that putt to beat Tom Watson.”

It was indeed a sweet moment for Ballesteros, and a sweet moment for European, world and Open golf as well.