The late, great Seve Ballesteros always loved rising to the big occasion – whether it was major championships or getting one over the Americans in the Ryder Cup.
And 46-year-old Geoff Thrower from Ware, Hertfordshire, took a leaf out his golfing idol’s book to clinch a dramatic playoff victory in the final of Seve Day at The Belfry – bagging himself a dream trip to the 2013 Masters in the process.
With a visit to Augusta on offer, the stakes could not have been higher for Thrower and his two rivals as they teed up at the first extra hole in the event’s grand final – the iconic par-4 tenth on the Brabazon – a hole made famous by Ballesteros after he became the first player to drive the green at the 1978 Hennessey Cup while playing in a match against Nick Faldo.
But Thrower held his nerve and, as well as winning the chance to see the climax to next year’s first major, the prize also includes three nights’ hotel accommodation and transfers to the course, flights, two rounds of golf, a full set of custom-made John Letters clubs, a pair of golf shoes and an array of other golf items.
The 11-handicapper, who is a member at The Hertfordshire Golf Club, said: “I still can’t quite believe that I’ve won. I’ve been walking around with a massive smile on my face ever since and I’m not sure when it’s going to go.
“I had never played the course and was very nervous at the start after being interviewed by the television cameras but, with my wife carrying my bag, I gradually relaxed and concentrated on having fun.
All 72 finalists received a free Glenmuir polo shirt and Sunderland jacket as reward for reaching the final stages, while a charity silent auction after the golf raised a further £1,700 to put towards research into brain cancer.
Your Golf Travel co-founder Ross Marshall said: “The response we have received from the public since we launched Seve Day has been nothing short of incredible. We thought the event would be popular but it has exceeded all our expectations.
“The manner of Geoff’s victory had all the hallmarks of Seve and it was fitting that he sealed victory on a hole that everybody remembers Seve for, with all the playoff finalists electing to try and drive the green in the true spirit of Seve.
“He was, and still is, an inspirational figure in European golf whose life was tragically cut short. Many people and their families, including myself, have been affected by cancer and we hope that the fantastic amount of money raised can help make a difference and aid research into brain cancer.”
Set up by Your Golf Travel, the Seve Ballesteros Foundation and Cancer Research UK, Seve Day has so far raised more than £70,000 for charity. It costs just £25 (€30) to enter, all of which goes directly to the Foundation. Visit www.seveday.com for more information on how to enter for 2013.