Jon Rahm show with the Champions Dinner

On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, the legendary Seve Ballesteros, always remembered, would have turned 67 years old

by Andrea Gussoni
Jon Rahm show with the Champions Dinner
© Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Sport

On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, the legendary Seve Ballesteros, always remembered, would have turned 67 years old. As is tradition at the Masters, the Champions Dinner took place, where the reigning champion selects the menu. And this time, it was no ordinary menu.

Basque golfer Jon Rahm was advised by prestigious Spanish chef José Andrés, and it was a resounding success – Jon's first round under par at Augusta. Seated at the table on the first floor of Augusta National were the 32 champions who welcomed a new member, Jon Rahm, alongside President Fred Riley, before enjoying a banquet filled with countless conversations and anecdotes.

There was also a heartfelt tribute to the first European winner of the Masters (in 1980). "It was a great night, an emotional night," said Larry Mize, the 1987 winner. Jon Rahm (in a white shirt and pink tie) sat at the head of the table, shoulder to shoulder with Ben Crenshaw (a two-time champion), marking the first time a golfer from the LIV era had hosted the dinner.

"We are fraternal," said Crenshaw, the annual dinner's host

Jon Rahm, Masters

Tom Watson, also a two-time champion and confirmed Honorary Starter (he will give the symbolic opening shot of the tournament this Thursday) alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, remarked at the end of the dinner how happy he was to see "the camaraderie within our group.

It was a wonderful evening." Ben Crenshaw, with his Texan accent, welcomed Rahm to the Masters Club; he then presented the Spaniard with a gold medallion adorned with the Augusta National emblem. Two years ago, at the 2022 Champions Dinner, Hideki Matsuyama astonished the table by delivering a speech in English, prompting Gary Player to toast in Japanese.

When asked earlier in the week about the possibility of congratulating Jon in Spanish, Crenshaw joked, "I studied French in high school" (laughing). From there, stories about Seve flooded the room. Bernhard Langer shared a story about the 1983 Ryder Cup at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, where Seve played a 3-wood from a bunker over 200 meters from the green.

"No golfer, apart from Ballesteros, would have reached the green." Crenshaw also remembered Jack Burke, the 1956 champion, who passed away on January 19, 10 days before his 101st birthday. Dinner with Spanish details Thirty-three former champions attended the dinner.

The only two absentees were Argentine Angel Cabrera and Scotsman Sandy Lyle. As the defending champion, Rahm chose a menu that paid homage to his Basque roots. It started with six options of tapas and pintxos before offering two main courses: Grilled T-bone steak with piquillo peppers or Turbot in Pil-Pil sauce with white asparagus.

For dessert, cream and custard mille-feuille. All washed down with txakoli as the white wine option and a 2017 Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja, a wine with special significance for the champion from Barrika. Augusta National honored José Andrés with a special chef's jacket for the occasion, personalized with his name.

The oldest of all the diners was Gary Player, at 88 years old. Sergio García and Txema Olazábal were also present, serving as perfect companions to the master of ceremonies. In addition to the distinctly Spanish, especially Basque, cuisine, there was a Spanish presence in the table decorations, with red and yellow colors prevalent. The use of red carnations to adorn the dinner also did not go unnoticed.

Jon Rahm