When you see him coming towards you, his way of walking, his gestures, the way he carries himself on the course… they all remind you of his father. Close up, this impression is accentuated, because the tone of his voice is also very similar – even his turns of phrase and expressions.
Javier Ballesteros, son of the incomparable Seve, has now made his professional debut. It occurred on the Costa del Sol, at La Cala Resort, but his first attempt to gain access to the Alps Tour – the third most important circuit on the continent after the European Tour and Challenge Tour – was unsuccessful. He failed to make it past the first phase of the qualifying school.
- How was the experience of your professional debut?
- As an amateur I had played some major tournaments. This debut didn’t go very well. The truth is I’m making some changes to my swing – I arrived practising quite well – but it seems as though things aren’t yet working out.
I lacked some confidence but anyway… I didn’t play badly, but not well either. I’m not happy because you can’t be satisfied when you card rounds over par and things don’t turn out as you want them to. Little by little… I know this is difficult and lengthy, and I have to continue working.
- What would you highlight about your game?
- I tend to have a very good short game, truth be told. From 95 to 100 metres and below; around the green and in the bunker I have a good touch.
- And the worst?
- Ahh… I need to improve with the driver. This week I didn’t drive all that bad. I was more or less happy and then suddenly I made that mistake on the 17th, where I hit the ball out of bounds on the right. I hadn’t hit any, or hardly any, shot poorly and it returned at the worst moment. I need to hit a little more to the right, and that’s what I’m improving.
- Have you set any golf objectives?
- Like everyone, I want to end up playing on the European Tour one day. I know it’s tough – that there are a lot of things I need to improve, that I have a lot of work ahead of me – but, hey, if you start with a minor objective that’s not a good path.
I know there are many people aiming for the same thing, who are very good players, who practise a lot, but in the end it’s all about practising more than the others.
- You are studying law. Are you planning to finish your studies?
- It’s bad that I say this, but I’m a pretty good student. The problem is that for a couple of years now I’ve slightly abandoned my studies and focused more on golf. I know I have to finish them – I’m not sure if by correspondence or how – but I know I have to do it, independently of whether or not golf turns out to be good or bad.
- We imagine you are often asked this: does your surname have much of an influence on your game, does it weigh on you, do you think about it, or not?
- It doesn’t weigh on me; in fact, it can open doors for me, secure an invitation or something like that. But I don’t have any pressure. What my father did was incredible, and I would almost say once-in-a-lifetime… Hey, someone will do it one day, but his career is very difficult to equal, and I’m a long way off. Furthermore, he had a game that was very different from the rest.
My surname doesn’t put pressure on me at all; I know who he was, who I am, and I’m just trying to enjoy it and earn a living doing something I like.
- What advice did he give you for golf and for life?
- For golf, a lot. I’m left with his insistence that you have to work hard, that talent alone isn’t enough. That you always have to make an effort, more than the one at your side, and that within the bounds of a fine-tuned technique you have to try to play as naturally as possible.
For life the most important thing he instilled in me is that you should always be an honourable person.
- What is it that you admired most about your father? Apologies for asking about him, but…
- No, no (he interrupts), it doesn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, I like talking about him. What is it that I admired most about him? Well, perhaps the fact he came from nothing to become the best golfer in the world. That’s impressive. I didn’t have the good fortune to see it because during his best era I had not been born yet, and in the nineties my father wasn’t at his best form, even though he still played well. I wasn’t lucky enough to see him win a tournament, although on videos yes: I’ve seen them all, any many times.
I also greatly admired him during his illness, for his fortitude, strength and the way he fought against the illness. He was always a fighter, and I try to follow his work example and capacity for sacrifice.
- You said before that you like football a lot, that you’re a fan of Barcelona…
- Yes, although less and less… they’re taking it away from me (he says with irony). I’ve been a real Barça fan and very keen on football but, as I’ve said to friends, I’ve seen my team win six titles in a year… the Spanish team two European championships and the World Cup… I’ve seen everything. I still like football but I’m not so fanatical about it anymore.