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Seve gave us art, wild and untamed

Padraig Harrington walked over to the small basket on the bench inside the Quail Hollow locker room Saturday morning, pulled out a black ribbon and pinned it to his cap.

Seve Ballesteros was dead.

The rumors had flashed across Quail Hollow on Friday afternoon following the revelation by the Ballesteros family in Spain that Seve's condition had deteriorated and, while the reports of Seve's demise were a few hours early, by 2:10 a.m. in his homeland Saturday, the end had come.

It's been a big week for ribbons at the Wells Fargo Championship, a bittersweet thought.

Michael Thompson, a tour rookie who played at the University of Alabama and lives in Birmingham, went with his wife, Rachel, to a local fabric store Monday and bought a swatch of black and white houndstooth cloth, the pattern of choice in the land of Bear Bryant.

Thompson wanted to remind people that there are hundreds of people in and around Tuscaloosa, Ala., whose lives are still being pieced together by what the tornadoes left behind. Thompson and his wife cut and made the ribbons themselves and posted a handwritten sign beside the basket they placed on the same locker room bench last week.

Many players obliged, pinning the ribbons onto their caps or collars, a nice gesture for a tour rookie many of them probably haven't met.

On Saturday, black ribbons - to honor Ballesteros - were everywhere.

It's difficult to overestimate the impact Ballesteros had on the game, particularly in Europe where it's been said often and accurately that he did for golf there what Arnold Palmer did for it here.

The players here this week who were old enough to have played against Ballesteros or to have seen him in his prime offered personal testimonies, standing with their hands in their pockets outside the clubhouse scoring area. They were heartfelt, respectful and tried to explain the magic Ballesteros had with a golf club in his hand.

They tried to capture his spirit, his passion and his fire, but it was too big. Not only could you see it, you could feel it when Seve was in the hunt. With his dark good looks and indomitable will, Ballesteros played the game the way the great ones do in any sport - his own way.

Ballesteros played by imagination more than perhaps any great player. Watch the grainy color footage of those British Opens he won from 1979 through 1984 and it's like watching Picasso with a paint brush. He gave us art, wild, untamed and unforgettable.

He made the Ryder Cup relevant again, willing it to life while turning it into the best three days in golf.

Ballesteros never played at Quail Hollow, but his memory is in the springtime air here this week. It was there in Paul Casey's red eyes Friday afternoon when he talked about Ballesteros, and it was in the smiling memories other players shared as the end approached.

In the soft sunshine Saturday at Quail Hollow, you could hear laughter and cheers, sounds of happiness. It was a day deserving of a ribbon.

You didn't have to look far to see them.

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