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Seve: the charisma of a champion

Severiano Ballesteros, one of the world’s greatest golfers, has died. But he will be remembered as much for his warm personality as for his sporting talent and dedication.


Ballesteros was "probably the game's most creative player," according to Tiger Woods.

Seve Ballesteros brought brightness to golf when he appeared on the professional scene in 1976. That brightness has slowly dimmed since he was diagnosed with a brain tumour on October 5, 2008. Ballesteros died on May 7 at the age of 54 at his home in Pedreña in Northern Spain. He is survived by his ex-wife Carmen and their three children: Baldomero, Miguel and Carmen.

Ballesteros, or “Seve”, as he was widely known, was more than a great golfer, he was an ambassador of golf, and he brought ingenuity and creativity to a game that was meant to be played by hitting straight shots from tee to green. Seve’s style was different and he made golf fun to watch. Tiger Woods said the Spaniard was “probably the most creative player who’s ever played the game.”

One of his most famous shots was at the British Open on the 16th hole at Royal Lytham on the way to his first major victory in 1979. After an errant drive that ended up 50 yards right of the fairway in a car park, Seve hit a sand wedge to within 15 feet to subsequently make birdie and go on to beat Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw.

Those who knew Seve best and who most respected him were his rivals on the golf course. Letters from three of golf’s greatest competitors were included in Seve’s autobiography published in 2008, shortly before he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

One of those fellow golfers, Gary Player, claimed to be a big fan of the Cantabrian’s game, but also of Ballesteros as a person, writing: “Seve is extremely considerate of others. He is willing to listen to people’s concerns, about golf or otherwise, and offer an understanding suggestion or word of support.”

For Jack Nicklaus, Seve was a “great man and great ambassador.” He added: “Seve has represented his country, his sport, and himself with class.”

Arnold Palmer remembered Seve’s early years and success in the 70s and 80s. He concludes his letter: “Unquestionably, he deserves the recognition he has earned as one of the most prominent and popular players in the history of the sport.”

One of Seve’s legacies has been the impact he has had on Spanish golf, and some major players have followed in his footsteps. Several of them were playing at the Spanish Open outside of Barcelona when they heard the news about Ballesteros’s worsening condition. José María Olazábal and Miguel Ángel Jimenez couldn’t hold back the tears in front of the cameras.

Only one month ago, on his 54th birthday, 150 tournaments were held simultaneously all over Spain to raise money for the Severiano Ballesteros Foundation. The Foundation was created shortly after Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour to raise money and finance a laboratory to research brain cancer.

Seve was known as a great competitor and a winner on and off the golf course. His five majors, his Ryder Cup victories as a player and captain and his successful business career are just part of an incredible Cinderella story that unfortunately ended too soon. Adiós campeón.

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Published: May 7 2011
Category: Sports, Featured
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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2 Comments for “Seve: the charisma of a champion”

  1. I really enjoy reading the article.I think Seve enjoys reading it too

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