September 23, 2014 / 9:34 AM / 5 years ago

Seve is still a huge inspiration for Europe, says Bjorn

GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Pictures and quotes of Seve Ballesteros are dotted around this week’s Ryder Cup venue and ensure he remains a galvanizing influence on Europe’s team three years after his death, said Thomas Bjorn.

The European team line up for a photograph ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland September 23, 2014. Back row (L-R) Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson,Thomas Bjorn, Stephen Gallacher, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia. Front row (L-R) Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, captain Paul McGinley, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Bjorn, back in the side this week after a 12-year absence, said the charismatic Spaniard was still as much of a driving force now as he was in eight Ryder Cups as a player between 1979-1995 and as a victorious captain on home soil in Valderrama in 1997.

“Seve lives with us, he lives with the team more than anything,” the 43-year-old Dane told reporters on Tuesday.

“He is a huge inspiration to this team and always will be. For us as a tour and as players he is the most inspirational guy that’s ever been.

“I was lucky enough to play with him and be around him when he played. You couldn’t have a man that stood for more of what European golf is all about,” added Bjorn.

“He will live with us for ever. There are quotes, there are pictures of him around, but that’s because he deserves to be there.”

Ballesteros, who died in 2011 after a long struggle with brain cancer, piled up a total of 22-1/2 points in Ryder Cup combat and formed the most productive partnership in the history of the biennial team event with fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal.

Bjorn said five-times major champion Ballesteros also touched the hearts of the United States team because of his overall contribution to the sport.

“It’s not only the 24 guys playing golf this week, it’s about the game of golf as well and what he meant to the game,” explained the Dane.

“He was a great man and I was fortunate to have him as a captain. I still look back at that as some of the best days of my life to get close to a man that was that great for this game.”

The 40th Ryder Cup between holders Europe and the U.S. gets underway with four fourball matches on Friday morning.

Editing by Patrick Johnston

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