Seve will be with us every step of the way in Chicago, says Rose

Justin Rose yesterday revealed what having an image of Seve Ballesteros on the bag will mean for Europe’s players – and himself in particular – at this week’s Ryder Cup in Chicago.

While captain Jose Maria Olazabal would not confirm strong indications on Monday that his team plan to wear the navy jumper, navy trousers and white shirt so associated with Ballesteros in Sunday’s singles, an iconic silhouette of the five-time major winner is on their golf bags at Medinah.

The image recreates Ballesteros’s most famous pose, a clenched-fist salute to the crowd after holing the winning putt in the 1984 Open Championship at St Andrews.

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Ballesteros himself used the symbol for his own company and had it tattooed on his left arm, while many players thought it should become the logo of the European Tour after his death in May last year following a long battle with cancer.

Ballesteros captained Europe to victory in his native Spain in 1997 after playing in the biennial contest eight times, famously forming a formidable partnership with Olazabal.

Rose, who won three of his four matches on his only previous appearance, in the defeat at Valhalla in 2008, has plenty of fond memories of Ballesteros to draw upon this week.

“I did get to know Seve well,” Rose told a press conference ahead of yesterday’s practice rounds.

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“He was one of the few guys when I was struggling on tour when I first turned pro [Rose missed 21 cuts in succession] to put his arm around me, in a sense, more metaphorically, but just to give me some words of encouragement.

“I remember my first Masters, actually, he just said ‘well done’ because my first Masters was a breakthrough for me. I had turned pro and gone through some struggles and then having achieved some success to get there. He was just really nice and complimentary.

“There’s some video footage somewhere of me chatting to him, and my mum meeting him, and you can see my mum blushing.

“Seve was definitely a special character, and one of my favourite memories is winning my first tournament (in America) at the Memorial Tournament, and Seve was the guy being honoured that year.

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“A couple of times during that win I had some tough short-game shots and Seve sprang to mind and I was trying to picture how Seve would have tried to play the shot.

“He was definitely with me that week and one of my greatest keepsakes is the book from the Memorial that Jack (Nicklaus) had signed to me, and Seve has also signed to me because I relayed the story to Seve about how I thought of him and he wrote back and I got him to sign my book. That’s something that I will cherish forever.”

Speaking about the image of Ballesteros on the players’ bags, Olazabal said: “We felt that this was one way that Seve could be with us every step of the way. This is the first match since he sadly passed away and a fitting tribute to a true champion and a great friend.

“Seve was an important part of the Ryder Cup because of the way he played and conducted himself from his opening match in 1979. This is the first time since then that he has not been present in anyway, because in 2010 he was able to talk to everyone via the telephone.

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“Seve set a wonderful example to generations of golfers and for me there are many, many memories particularly involving the Ryder Cup.

“Now the best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him and his image will certainly ensure he is alongside us throughout the week.”

Rose was partnered with Ian Poulter in Louisville and they won twice together.

He was asked if he had learned anything new about his close friend Poulter that week.

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“No, I’d seen the good, the bad and the ugly long before then,” said the 32-year-old, runner-up to American Brandt Snedeker in the Tour Championship on Sunday.

“That’s the great thing about Ian – he does remain himself no matter what the occasion, no matter who he’s with.

“That’s what I love about him. We roomed together on the Challenge Tour when neither of us had achieved anything in the game and for the most part he was the same fun-loving, confident person he is today.

“Obviously the Ryder Cup just really gets the juices flowing and brings out the best in him.

“He’s an easy partner from that perspective. I think we complement each other – I can just be myself, which is a little bit more on a level and he can be the excitable one.”