To define what makes a leader of men has always been difficult, but it is perhaps more so than ever in a world that lacks obvious examples. One such man has recently passed, albeit, his world was merely golf.
Sport is an analogy for life: it is contest, struggle, defeat and victory. It defines joy and misery. Men win and lose as individuals and as teams. In all this, through highs and lows, some stand out as shining examples of honour, charisma, magnanimity, inspiration, and courage. Seve Ballesteros was such a man. He combined the abilities to charm the media, to dazzle the ordinary onlooker, and to enthuse men with an unbeatable spirit. His talent was peerless, but even as physical deterioration deprived him, and us, of its use, he brought to bear his extraordinary leadership on a group of men who seemed otherwise to lack lustre and desire. The 2010 Ryder Cup was won, so the players attest, for him, on the back of a rousing speech given by telephone. We do not know the content of that speech, but it moved men first to tears and then to resolute action. Few can arouse such things.
It was not the first time. Seve’s speeches over the years have been said to count for a number of victories. And now, in death, I expect his memory will also serve to inspire men. At the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, don’t be surprised if all Europe says with one voice, ‘win it for Seve’.
Rest in peace, genius.