Seve Ballesteros, one of golf’s most talented and captivating figures, won the first of his record 50 titles on the European Tour, now known as the DP World Tour, in 1976 at the Dutch Open. As the European Tour group celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022, we reflect on the Spaniard’s breakthrough professional victory.
Aged 19, and two years after he became the youngest professional to play in a Tour event at the 1974 Spanish Open, Ballesteros marched to an eight-shot triumph over nearest rival Howard Clark at Kennemer Golf and Country Club.
His success in the Netherlands came a month after he burst on to the international scene by finishing in a share of second place behind Johnny Miller in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale - the second Major Championship appearance of his career.
Ballesteros went on to challenge for his maiden Tour success in both Sweden and Switzerland, before he landed his elusive title.
Having opened the tournament with a 65 to take the early lead, Ballesteros bounced back from a 73 to shoot a 68 and hold a one-shot advantage over England’s Clark, who he would go on to play alongside in four Ryder Cups.
Ballesteros marched to a commanding victory with a final round 69 to finish the week at 13-under-par,beginning a run of winning at least one Tour title for 17 consecutive years between 1976 and 1992.
His victory in the Dutch Open also helped him win the Tour’s Order of Merit, now known as the DP World Tour Rankings, for the first time in 1976 aged 19 years and 250 days – the youngest player to achieve the feat.
Ballesteros would retain the title for the subsequent two years, before he also repeated the feat in 1986 and 1991.
This week, eldest son Javier Ballesteros, who turned professional in 2014, is competing in the Dutch Open at Bernardus Golf as a tournament invitee, with his sister Carmen as his caddie.