Saturday's passing of Spanish golf legend Seve Ballesteros brought to mind my first time covering the Masters in 2001.
I was blown away by how different the course looks in person than on television -- much more hilly, for one -- and vowed to walk the front and back nines when play began to see it all.
My choice to follow on the back nine was Ballesteros, who rose to prominence just as I began my sportswriting career.
There was Ballesteros, hitting it all over the yard -- in the trees, in the rough, in the bunker. But I didn't care. I actually got to see the swashbuckling Seve, a master of escaping trouble. And the charismatic Seve, resplendent in Hugo Boss attire. (In fact, if Hugo Boss ever decided to launch a historical advertising campaign, the first person I would pick would be Ballesteros. I consider him the epitome of the brand.)
There were few in his gallery. I was practically walking alone, all the better to see Ballesteros and appreciate the breathtaking course.
Ballesteros shot 76 that day, more than respectable considering the places his ball found. But it wasn't the score that I remembered. (I had to look that up). It was a chance to see a future Hall of Famer with whom I'd been smitten since I first saw him on television.
A friend and I even planned a trip to Spain with my theme being 'Searching for my Seve Ballesteros.' That plan was thwarted by the Madrid train bombings in 2004. (I still lobbied to go, thinking terrorists wouldn't strike the same place twice, or at least so soon).
So even though I never interviewed Ballesteros, I mourn his passing. Had it not been for Ballesteros, I may not have cared nearly as much about golf.