Remembering Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros

Seve Ballesteros was a charismatic, competitive and outstanding golf player who won over 90 international matches including 5 major championships: The 1979, 1984 and 1988 Open Championships and the 1980 and 1983 Masters Tournaments. He was also instrumental in revitalizing the European Ryder Cup team, leading them to victory with 5 wins as player and captain.

During his golfing years, the Spaniard won an outstanding 50 European tour titles. At one period he won at least one tournament each year for seventeen consecutive years between the mid 70’s and early 90’s. Ballesteros last win was at the 1995 Peugeot Spanish Open. He retired from golf in 2007 because of poor health.

This Man Seve Ballesteros came from a family of professional golfers. When he was 8 years old, his elder brother Manuel gave him a 3-iron, which he often used when he practiced on the beaches close by his home.

By the time he turned 16; he became a professional player. He arrived on the international scene in 1976 at the British Open at the age of 19. He won the Masters tournament in 1980, becoming the first European winner of this major tournament. He was also the youngest winner of the Masters tournament at 23.

Seve’s imagination, creativity and putting skill on the course was nothing short of remarkable. He often made impressive recovery shots especially with his short game. One of his most memorable shots was when he drove his ball into a car park at the 1979 British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He managed to play the ball onto the green and then made a birdie. Ballesteros won the championship becoming to the first Continental European to do so since the Frenchman, Arnaud Massy won the 1907 title at Royal Liverpool.

His remarkable ability to make impossible shots made him a formidable opponent. Professional golfers acknowledged his talent with the following comments:

Gary Place: “He could manufacture shots like a genius.”

Jack Nicklaus: “He invented shots around the green.”

Seve Ballesteros won his last major title at the 1988 Open at the Royal Lytham & St Anne’s. His final dramatic round of 65 included an eagle and 6 birdies. Later Ballesteros would say that it was the best round of his life.

Seve Ballesteros had a successful golfing career and his accomplishments won him a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. His tenacity to succeed helped become one of the greatest golf players of all time. When Spain was chosen to host the 1997 Ryder Cup at the Valderrama Golf Club, Ballesteros was the driving force that made this a possibility. He also captained the team, even though he was not playing. This was the first Ryder Cup to be held in continental Europe.

After a long successful career, Seve Ballesteros retired in 2001 due to ill health. In 2011, he bade the world farewell as he died quietly in his sleep after battling brain cancer for about four years.

To honor the memory of Ballesteros, the 2010 European Ryder Cup team wore navy blue and white apparel because he always wore navy blue on the final day of a championship.

Tributes to Seve Ballesteros

Nick Price:

“Most of us could shoot 65 in 30 or 40 different ways; Seve could shoot 65 in 10,000 different ways. He could miss every fairway, chip in five times, hole two bunker shots… All of us who spent time with him are richer for it.”

Tiger Woods:

“Seve was one of the most talented and exciting golfers to ever play the game. His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed. His short game was that of a genius and his death came much too soon.”

Lee Westwood:

“I grew up watching him play this flamboyant and swashbuckling style of golf and he was my inspiration and hero. We would not be playing for what we are today without him. He was an icon and what the game owes him is immense.”

Phil Mickelson:

“He certainly had an impact on the game, but for me the greatest thing about Seve was his flair and his charisma. We were drawn to him because of the way he played the game of golf. You wanted to go and watch him play.”

Jose Maria Olazabal:

“I saw Seve last the week after the Masters. His head was clear and we talked about the Ryder Cup. The best tribute we can pay him is to go on playing; but we will never do justice to everything he did for golf and everything he gave us.”

Tom Lehman:

“In the 1995 Ryder Cup singles, he hit it all over the map but his short game was just magic. He kept himself in the match which no one else could have done from the places he visited. He shot even par on the front nine. I would have been 9-over!”

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