With the sound of a bagpipe filling the air, some of Europe’s greatest golfers joined family, friends and local residents Wednesday for the funeral of Seve Ballesteros in his native fishing village in northern Spain.
Ryder Cup captains Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal marched together in silence as part of the procession from Ballesteros’ family home to the church of San Pedro de Pedrena.
Ballesteros, a five-time major winner and Ryder Cup stalwart who revived European golf, died Saturday at age 54 from complications of a cancerous brain tumor.
Ballesteros’ oldest son, Javier, carried the urn holding the Spanish golf great’s ashes at the front of the procession, with the wail of a single bagpipe punctuating the occasion on an overcast day in the tiny village off the Bay of Santander.
The procession also included several young boys and girls wearing a replica of the navy blue outfit that Ballesteros wore for his first British Open win in 1979. They each held a 3-iron, the first club he used as a child.
Members of a local men’s rowing team marched with their oars.
The large crowd outside the church burst into applause as Ballesteros’ ashes reached the tiny church, which was filled to its 400-person capacity. Locals, friends and others watched from one of the three giant screens set up outside.
Ballesteros’ ashes were to be laid to rest under a magnolia tree in the family garden after the service.
The golf great had a record 50 European Tour victories and successes as both a Ryder Cup player and captain.
”In golf we never had anyone like him,” five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain said. ”He was an innovator.”
Indurain was among a number of Spanish personalities attending, which included former Real Madrid player Emilio Butragueno and bullfighter Enrique Ponce.
Homages to Ballesteros were found all along the procession routes, mostly in the form of Spanish flags with black ribbons tied to them. Photos and messages of support were also on show in the town of nearly 1,500,
”His roots were here in Pedrena, he never forgot that,” said Asuncion Sota, a cousin of Ballesteros’. ”Seve may have passed but his soul lives on here forever.”