Losing a golfing legend

Seve Ballesteros will be remembered as the inspiration behind the European tour and a golfer with style and charisma

    Seve showing off his flamboyance with an unusual bunker shot at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in 1998 [GALLO/GETTY]

    Tributes for golfing great Seve Ballesteros have started pouring in from across the globe after the five-time major winner died on Saturday at the age of 54.

    Ballesteros died a day after suffering severe deterioration in his recovery from multiple surgeries to remove a malignant brain tumor.

    The Spanish Open plan to honour the golfer with a minute's silence during third-round play on Saturday. Flags flew at half mast at El Prat golf course and players were set to sport black ribbons in honour of Ballesteros.

    Seve Ballesteros' funeral is to be held in hometown of Pedrena on Wednesday.

    Life of a legend

    Ballesteros won the Spanish Open three times, including his last career victory in 1995 for his record 50th European Tour title - eight better than closest challenger Bernhard Langer.

    Headlines such as 'The Inventor of Spanish golf' and 'Life of a Legend' were splashed across Spanish media websites as fellow golfers, athletes and figures from around the world paid tribute to the native from the northern coastal town of Pedrena.

    George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, said Ballesteros was the inspiration behind the tour and called it a "very sad day for all who love golf."

    "Seve's unique legacy must be the inspiration he has given to so many to watch, support, and play golf, and finally to fight a cruel illness with equal flair, passion, and fierce determination. We have all been so blessed to live in his era. He was the inspiration behind the European Tour."

    Spanish golf federation president Gonzaga Escauriaza said Ballesteros, an "icon" of Spanish golf, transformed the sport.

    "Severiano Ballesteros was a unique, unrepeatable person."

    "We have to recognise we are where we are now, that golf is a popular sport ... in large part to Severiano Ballesteros. We all owe him a lot."

    Westwood tribute

    World Number One golfer Lee Westwood paid tribute on Twitter: "It's a sad day. Lost an inspiration, genius, roll model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve."

    Three-time major winner Nick Price said Ballesteros was "light years ahead" after seeing him for the first time when they were both 21, calling it a "mesmerising" moment.

    The pair dueled at the 1988 British Open, with Ballesteros rallying from a two-stroke deficit to beat Price by two shots with a final round 65 for his last major win.

    "He did for European golf what Tiger Woods did for worldwide golf."

    Tom Lehman, the 1996 British Open champion, recalled the Spaniard's swagger on the course.

    "I've always said that his body language said, 'Hey, I may have hit a really crappy shot right there, but if you miss this next one, you'll miss the greatest shot ever hit.'"

    Tears in Spain

    On Friday at the Spanish Open, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez, good friends of Ballesteros, were in tears as they came off the El Prat golf course upon learning of Ballesteros' deteriorating state.

    Olazabal and Ballesteros combined to form one of the greatest Ryder Cup pairs in history.

    The loss of Ballesteros will not only be felt by professionals in the sport but by fans around the globe.

    On Twitter golfing enthusiast @MainstreamMatt said he was "Off for 18 holes in memory of the legend that is, was, and always will be Seve."

    To many people Seve Ballesteros was so much more than a great golfer.

    He was a man whose charisma and cheeky smile captured the attention of the sporting world.   

    SOURCE: Agencies


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