Seve Ballesteros was one of the most loved golfers of all-time.
Seve Ballesteros turned pro in 1974 and retired in 2007. He passed away on Saturday morning 7th May 2011 aged 54, after losing his battle with a malignant brain tumour that was first diagnosed in 2008.
He burst onto the golf scene in 1976 when he finished second at the British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. He went on to win his first Open Championship in 1979.
In all, Seve Ballesteros won five major championships – The Masters in 1980 and 1983, and The Open Championship in 1979, 1984 and 1988. He was also a major success in the Ryder Cup, helping the European team to five wins both as a player and captain. Seve also won the World Match Play Championship a record-tying five times before being forced into early retirement due to on-going back problems; and in 1999, Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
But more than his victories, Seve Ballesteros changed a stuffy game in the mid-1970’s with his young enthusiasm, panache, style and film-star looks more than any other golfer. Seve Ballesteros helped changed golf forever and pathed the way for young players and golf fashion that has helped revolutionise the sport in the past 30 years.
Growing up in the 1970’s I didn’t play or watch golf but knew Seve Ballesteros as one of the world’s most famous sportsmen of his generation. Similar to the way that Tiger woods is known the world over today, ask a non-golf enthusiast to name one golfer from the mid-1970’s onwards and the majority of Europeans would have answered ‘Seve Ballesteros’. His infectious smile, bubbly personality and the fact that he was very human, often hitting wayward shots only to pull off some amazing recoveries, made Seve Ballesteros a favourite with anyone that watched or played with him.
“I’d like to see the fairways more narrow. Then everyone would have to play from the rough, not just me.” – Seve Ballesteros
On hearing the news at the weekend, current World number 1 golfer Lee Westwood tweeted: ‘It’s a sad day. Lost an inspiration, genius, role model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve.’
Seve Ballesteros R.I.P.