Ryder Cup - Seve gives European team talk
Europe's Ryder Cup golfers, including six nerve-racked rookies, have been treated to a dose of Seve inspiration after a conference call with the player described as "our legend" by captain Colin Montgomerie.
Seve Ballesteros was unable to travel to Wales because of health issues following repeated surgery on a brain tumour but passed on his words of wisdom to a hushed team room on Tuesday night.
"The whole team spoke to Seve for about 10 minutes and that was very motivational, very passionate, and also very sad to hear him; to hear the way he is," said Montgomerie, who played alongside him three times and under him when he captained Europe to victory on home Spanish soil in 1997.
"But still the passion is very, very strong within Seve for us as a team and he just wishes that he could be here. Obviously he was invited but couldn't make it.
"That was a real inspiration, especially for the rookies in the team, to speak to Seve and have Seve speak to them. It was on a speakerphone in our team room," Montgomerie said.
"We then had a team meeting and it was very different because of the passion that engulfed that room."
Ballesteros, who in a public vote this week was crowned Europe's best captain for his role at Valderrama in 1997 (he is pictured here during that memorable week) and the team's best player, played in eight Ryder Cups and was a key figure in the team's development into a trophy-winning force.
With 87 tournament wins, including five Majors, the Spaniard carried his unique talent seamlessly into the team environment, never more so than when accompanying compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal in Europe's best-ever partnership, securing a remarkable 12 points from 15 matches.
With his swashbuckling style and infectious love of the game, Ballesteros is credited with attracting a whole new generation of fans to the sport, as well as putting Spain on the road to becoming a major golfing force.
"I've never heard anyone as passionate about sport and golf as him," Montgomerie said.
"Seve is our Ryder Cup, and always will be. We were just honoured to have him, have his presence in the room. It's always nice to not ever feel that Seve is forgotten by us or by European golf in any way, shape or form.
"It definitely bonds a team, if it needed bonding, together, very close, when Seve, our legend, speaks to us."
As if that was not enough to get the juices flowing, Montgomerie also brought in former Wales and British Lions scrumhalf Gareth Edwards, honorary captain of the host Celtic Manor club, to address his players.
"Gareth Edwards is a legend in these parts and has to be Wales's most famous sportsman of all time. We had a fantastic speech by him," Montgomerie said.
Montgomerie stressed, however, the speakers were not brought in to motivate the players for the competition, which begins on Friday morning as Europe seek to regain the trophy after their thumping at Valhalla in 2008.
"I just feel it was right for the rookies to hear that passion more than motivation from two of Europe's greatest sportsmen," he said.
"We don't need motivation, the motivation came from the result two years ago."