LISTEN: How Seve Ballesteros’ caddie tried to stop one of golf’s most incredible shots
Three times, he pleaded with him not to do it. Do not try to massage your golf ball through a gap the size of a “dinner plate,” Billy Foster told Seve Ballesteros. Take the safe shot, and you could still win, the caddie reasoned. You are not a magician, the caddie begged.
“ ‘Why? Why I listen to you? Why you put doubt in my mind? You are the caddy. Carry the clubs. I’m the player,’ ” Ballesteros said to Foster. “ ‘Now piss off.’ ”
The legendary Spaniard weaved it through on the 18th hole at the 1993 European Masters in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Then chipped in for birdie.
“I had to get down on my hands and knees and bow to him,” Foster recalled. “Seve Ballestreros, you are God. Seve Ballesteros, you are the best that ever lived.”
With professional golf on hiatus due to the global coronavirus outbreak, Foster recounted Sunday the best shot he’s ever seen. Or, through his description on The Tour Caddies social media feeds, the best shot he’s ever seen — and had tried to deny.
Walking up to the 18th, the late Ballestreros had made birdie on his last five holes, but needed another to try to catch Barry Lane. He knocked his tee shot about 60 yards right, the ball ending up about 7 feet behind an 8-foot wall. Then came the negotiations.
“I get down there first, there’s obviously no shot, so he comes down, and I said, ‘Seve, chip it out sidewards, chip it on the green,’ ” Foster said. “ ‘We can still make par and win the tournament.’ ”
No, he said. Ballesteros went to his hands and knees. He said he sees the shot over the wall and through the trees just past the wall — the “dinner plate” gap about 10 yards to the left and 2 feet over the wall.
“ ‘What? You’ve lost the plot, mate,’ ” Foster said to Ballesteros. “ ‘Chip it out sidewards, wedge it on the green. You can still win the tournament.’ “
The rejection of his plot did not sit well.
“ ‘Why? Why I listen to you? Why you put this doubt in my mind? Go get a yardage, ey?’ ” Ballesteros said.
Foster did get a yardage. Or more guessed a yardage.
“To this day, on my kid’s lives, I never got the yardage. I just guessed it, blagged it,” he said. “ ‘Yeah, 130 will do, mate.’ ”
The final plea. The final angry denial. Ballesteros hits the shot, and it lands a yard short of the green.
“The imagination to play that shot shot was incredible, Foster said, “and it just goes to show if I had given the right yardage, he’d have probably knocked it on the green.”
Lane would go on to win the tournament by a shot. Just under 30 years later, it didn’t matter to Foster.
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