A glimpse at Seve

My one first-hand glimpse on the golf course was vintage of the late Seve Ballesteros — at his scrambling, imaginative, stylish best.

Seve Ballesteros

Seve Ballesteros

My one first-hand glimpse on the golf course was vintage of the late Seve Ballesteros — at his scrambling, imaginative, stylish best.

Ballesteros was 49 at the time of the 2006 British Open, well past his prime. He hadn’t played in the Open in five years and he wouldn’t make another start in the tournament, but his presence alone captivated the galleries at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

And, for three memorable holes, Ballesteros resurrected his short-game magic.

Those were my three holes watching him, as he completed his opening round. First, he took a crazy stance in a bunker, with his left foot planted in the sand and his right knee resting on the grass above. It was Seve in all his improvisational splendor — and he promptly lifted the shot onto the green and saved par.

Next hole: Sky-tingling flop shot, 10-foot putt to salvage par.

Final hole: One last, stirring par save.

All three times, the crowd responded with a rousing ovation. Ballesteros doffed his cap on No. 18 and gave his son, Baldomero — then 15 and working as his father’s caddie — a warm kiss on the cheek.

“It was nice to walk the fairways in the Open Championship with my son,” Ballesteros said afterward. “That was fantastic.”

So was one all-too-brief view of Seve in his element.

Ballesteros was laid to rest in Pedrena, Spain on Wednesday, four days after passing away from brain cancer.

rkroichick@sfchronicle.com.

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