José Maria Olazábal led the tributes from around the world to celebrate Europe’s greatest golfer at Wentworth on Monday, as the Olé Seve! Pro-Am event raised £618,168 in aid of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.
Olazábal, who was Ballesteros’ great friend and compatriot, was overwhelmed by the turn out and delivered an emotional speech in honour of the five-time major champion.
“Unfortunately, we lost a great man and a dear friend, but it is not a sad time because Seve lived life to the full,” said the 2012 European Ryder Cup captain.
“I never saw any other player with his heart and determination. He was a pioneer. He opened doors and changed the image of golf into the truly exciting game it is today. He was a true genius.
“When cancer struck he had two goals – the first was never to give up and the second was to help as many people as possible. That’s why he started up his Foundation and is why this is a very important day. Seve can’t be here but I am sure he would be proud of what everyone has achieved today.”
The Pro-Am and subsequent auction in Wentworth’s magnificent ballroom raised more than £600,000 for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, supporting Cancer Research UK - a sum which helped swell the Foundation’s amount to around £1.3 million since Ballesteros launched it in December 2009.
The 24 players and their amateur teams made the day a spectacular success, as nine top of the range auction items sold for just under £350,000, with two very special items closely connected to Seve attracting the highest bids of the night.
Ballesteros' Rolex Daytona wrist watch was auctioned for £65,000, believed to have been purchased by Paul Casey, and a gold Ping Putter, a replica of the iconic model wielded by the Spaniard when he won The Open at St Andrews in 1984 was bought by Ian Poulter for £55,000.
“It says a lot about what they feel about Seve,” added Olazábal. “They realise what he has done for all of us – not just the players, but the game itself and the business companies related to golf.
“For them to make an effort to play here today tells you how important Seve was. It’s a simple proof of that.”
Wentworth course specialist Ross Fisher and his team of Galib Virani, Francois Joseph Fury and Steven Ho won the pro-am competition on 18-under.