From Seve to Jon

Severiano Ballesteros opened a new era in the world of golf. Since their successes, several Spanish players have rubbed shoulders with the best.


Thirty years and eleven months. It is the time that has passed between August 19, 1989 and July 19, 2020. On the first date, Severiano Ballesteros was relegated for the last time from the world number one. The second is yesterday, and it will go down in history as the day Jon Rahm led the world golf ranking. Almost 31 years later, a Spaniard repeats Seve's feat. (GOLFTV photomontage)

Being number one in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) is not easy at all. Since its inception in 1986, only 24 players have been able to lead the standings at some point. The ranking rewards consistency for the past two years, and only based on good results week after week a golfer can reach the highest

Severiano Ballesteros was the second golfer to sit on the throne of world golf. On April 27, 1986, three weeks after the launch of this novel classification system, Pedreña's took the position of the first leader in history, the German Bernhard Langer. This recognition came when Seve was already one of the most important stars in the world of golf. At that time, the Cantabrian already had seven victories on the PGA Tour - two of them at the Open and another two at the Augusta Masters - and 30 on the European Tour (only in January of that year he won three tournaments) .

Up to five different occasions Seve was ranked world number one. The first time he did this was for 20 consecutive weeks. After losing the lead to Greg Norman, he regained it twice for just one week. His last two experiences at the top lasted 19 and 20 weeks, respectively. Seve's career lasted for many years, although in recent years his participation in tournaments was not as usual. His fifth and final major was the 1988 Open, and his 50th victory on the European Tour - nobody has more - came in 1995. Seve accumulated 90 professional victories in his showcases, and in 1999 he entered the World Golf Hall of Fame. His epic victories in majors, Ryders and the world number opened a new era in Spanish, European and world golf.

Since then, Spain has seen the appearance of several players who have reaped great results. At the height of Seve, Miguel Ángel Jiménez turned professional. Pisha entered the European Tour in 1988 and since then has collected 21 trophies on the circuit and 33 in total. He has nine top-10 majors, coming in second at the 2000 US Open - fifteen strokes from Tiger. During that decade it was frequent to see Miguel Ángel among the twenty best in the world. His best ranking in the OWGR was 12th in 2004.

Practically simultaneous was the emergence of José María Olazábal. The one from Hondarribia won several important amateur tournaments, and in 1986 his first victories in the European Tour came. During his career, he emulated Seve - with whom he developed a great friendship, and formed with him one of the most historic couples of the Ryder Cup - winning two Augusta Masters. It was with a win at the 1991 Catalan Open that Ollie reached his best position in the OWGR, second. He added 30 victories in his career, although the world number one resisted him, and today he can be seen competing every year in Augusta. Like his friend Seve, he is part of the Golf Hall of Fame.

The children who saw Seve's successes during childhood grew older, and some turned out to be very good. This is the case of Sergio García, who did not take a year to make a place for himself among the best in world golf. With several successes as an amateur behind him, in 1999 Sergio turned professional at just 19 years old. Hence his nickname 'El Niño'. And that same year he stunned the entire planet golf, which he saw as a Spanish who was barely over the age of majority, finished second in a PGA Championship to a stroke by Tiger Woods, who began his tyranny. The image of his shot from the tree, running uphill and jumping to see his ball hit the green, went down in golf history.

From there, Sergio García, who promised to be the new absolute star of Spanish golf, began rubbing shoulders with the best, with victories on the PGA and the European Tour. But the years passed and the long-awaited major did not arrive. In 2002, top-10 in the big four. Bleak was his 2007 British Open playoff loss to Padraig Harrington. It seemed that the major was never going to arrive, accumulating up to 23 finals among the top ten in a grand, until in 2017 he won in Augusta, as Seve and Olazábal already did. Like Chema, Sergio became second in the world in 2008 for 18 weeks, and never reached first place. Despite this, it has always been very regular, and accumulates 353 weeks among the top ten golfers in the world.

Coinciding with Sergio's victory at Augusta, Jon Rahm stuck his head out among the professionals. Barrika's came from winning practically everything during his university stage, and was number one in the world in the amateur ranking. In 2017 his first victory came on the PGA Tour and also on the European Tour. From there, he has won tournaments on both circuits every year. And that has been the key to his success at the OWGR: consistency. Pending his first major victory - four times in the top ten - Rahmbo is on the line week after week. Out of 100 tournaments he has played as a professional, he has finished in the top-10 in half of them. In December last year he emulated Seve, winning the Race to Dubai 28 years after the Cantabrian. Now, almost 31 years later, Rahm returns to imitate his childhood idol, and is the new world number one.

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