08 May 2011
Seve Ballesteros - a player that could see shots that no one else could.
World Golf Hall of Fame Member and five-time Major champion Seve Ballesteros died on Saturday aged 54.
The much loved and charismatic shot maker passed away at his home in the Northern Spanish town of Pedrena following a three year battle with a brain tumour.
Ballesteros won The Open Championship three times, his first victory coming in 1979 at Royal Lytham and St Annes in Lancashire where he famously hit his tee shot on the 16th hole into a carpark and still made birdie.
His second Claret Jug came on the Old Course at St Andrews in 1984 before winning again in 1988 at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The 1980 Masters win was the first by a European and he tasted glory again at Augusta National in 1983.
In addition to his Major victories, Ballesteros won 50 times on the European Tour (the most in history) and 37 other titles worldwide. His was a truly exceptional list of achievements.
Ballesteros played in the Australian Open in the 1979 at Metropolitan Golf Club and 1980 at The Lakes Golf Club finishing in 8th and 11th place respectively.
His contribution to Spanish and European golf is where he will be remembered most fondly.
Ballesteros made eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player – winning 20 points from 37 matches – and he formed with José Maria Olazábal the greatest Ryder Cup partnership of all time with 11 wins and two halves from 15 matches.
Then came that special moment in 1997 when Seve, a real Captain Marvel of a leader, led Europe to victory at Valderrama and was presented with the Cup by the Infanta Maria, daughter of King Juan Carlos.
Speaking on Friday evening, former World Number 1 Nick Price said Ballesteros' creativity was one of the many things that set him apart.
"You or I might have 300 or 400 ways we could shoot a round of 65," Price said.
"The difference was Seve had 10,000 ways he could shoot 65."
Tributes flowed on Sunday from all over the world including from compatriots and friends Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jose Manuel Lara and Sergio Garcia.
"The best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him, although no tribute will ever do justice to everything he did for golf and to everything he gave us," Olazabal said.
Scot and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said he was a talent the likes of which would unlikely be seen again.
"There are very few legends in the world, Seve is one of them. I never saw such a talent to swing a golf club, and we may never see it again," Montgomerie said.
Caddy Billy Foster, now on Lee Westwood's bag, recalled fondly his time caddying for Ballesteros.
"There're not many players I've worked for in my time that have that aura about them. It was a special time - I was probably 25 years old, I'd caddied for maybe 10 years, and I got the ultimate dream chance of working for an absolute superstar."
European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady said the Tour owed much of its existence to Ballesteros.
"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," O'Grady said.
"We have all been so blessed to live in his era. He was the inspiration behind The European Tour."
Severiano Ballesteros Sota. 1957-2011