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European team to honor Ballesteros with special insignia on golf bags

updated 3:10 AM EDT, Wed September 26, 2012
The special logo of Seve Ballesteros has been emblazoned on the golf bags of the European Ryder Cup team at Medinah
The special logo of Seve Ballesteros has been emblazoned on the golf bags of the European Ryder Cup team at Medinah
  • U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III expecting a partisan crowd at Medinah
  • Love leads his players against Jose Maria Olazabal's European team
  • Spain's Olazabal will hope to lead Europe to a fifth win in six Ryder Cup matches

(CNN) -- Europe's players will pay tribute to Seve Ballesteros by having a special image of the golf legend emblazoned on their golf bags during this week's Ryder Cup matches against the United States in Chicago.

The image depicts Ballesteros' famous celebration as he clinched the British Open at St Andrews in 1984.

It was a particular favorite of the Spanish star, who had it tattooed on his left arm and described holing the winning putt on the 18th green as "the happiest moment of my sporting life."

The design was revealed as the European team practiced for the first time Tuesday at Medinah Country Club ahead of Friday's opening action.

Non-playing captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who formed an almost unbeatable partnership with Ballesteros in the Ryder Cup, is hoping his players will gain inspiration from memories of his great friend, who died of brain cancer last year.

"We felt that this was one way that Seve could be with us every step of the way. This is the first match since he sadly passed away and a fitting tribute to a true champion," he told the official European Tour website.

Olazabal will be hoping to lead Europe to a fifth win in six stagings of the biennial team event, but U.S. captain Davis Love III has warned the visitors to expect an atmosphere "like nothing you've ever seen before" when the action gets underway in the three-day tournament.

Love, a two-time winner of the cup as a player, has told Europe's top golfers to expect partisan support from the American fans.

Ryder Cup revolutionaries: Seve & Ollie

"It's going to be incredible, big golf and a big stage," Love, a 20-time winner on the PGA Tour, told a press conference.

Is Olazabal ready for Ryder Cup?
What can Ryder Cup golfers expect?
Jose Maria Olazabal will try to mastermind a triumph for Europe in this weekend's Ryder Cup, a competition he has made an indelible mark on over the years.
Jose Maria Olazabal will try to mastermind a triumph for Europe in this weekend's Ryder Cup, a competition he has made an indelible mark on over the years.
A captain's calling
Ryder Cup revolutionaries: Seve & Ollie Ryder Cup revolutionaries: Seve & Ollie

"I think the first tee could be the loudest any of these guys have ever seen to start off a golf tournament. So I expect a lot of passion. If we are winning holes, it's going to get pretty loud out there, and that's the home field advantage is all about."

Despite the raucous reception which awaits world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and his European teammates, Olazabal, a three-time winner of the Ryder Cup, is looking forward to sampling the event's unique flavor.

"We respect each other a lot," double Masters champion Olazabal said of the rivalry between the two teams.

"Obviously we are going to try to beat each other, no questions about that, but we respect each member of our opponent team.

"Davis and I, we have competed against each other quite a few times, not just in the Ryder Cup but in other events, and here we are sitting together and each one of us has a huge respect towards the other."

Love, the 2007 PGA Championship winner, echoed his counterpart's sentiments, saying, "We are fortunate to play a game and represent a game that is the model for all other sports.

"It always has been ... We are fortunate that Seve Ballesteros and the players that came before us demanded that ... respect of the game and to carry on traditions of the game.

"I think this match and the friendship that it begins with and the friendship that it ends with is different than any other sport."

Tuesday's practice saw the players go out in groups of four, with the some clues to likely partnerships for the fourball and foursomes matches on Friday and Saturday.

Tiger Woods was with Steve Stricker, a successful recent pairing in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups for the Americans.

World No.1 Rory McIlroy went out with Northern Ireland compatriot Graeme McDowell, having played three matches together at Celtic Manor as Europe won the cup back from the United States two years ago.

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, who claimed the scalp of Woods and Stricker in the 2010 clash in Wales, were also out together.

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