Five time major champion Seve Ballesteros, who died from brain tumour complications Saturday at the age of 54, continues to be an inspiration to everyone in and out of the golf course.
It was the Spaniard’s passion that made the Ryder Cup one of the most compelling events in the game and it was his pride that revived European golf.
“He was the greatest show on earth,” Nick Faldo said.
“Seve was one of the most talented and excited golfers to ever play the game. His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed. His death came much too soon,” read Tiger Woods’ Twitter post.
The Web Site of Ballesteros posted a statement about his peaceful death at 2:10 a.m. Saturday in his Pedrena home surrounded by his family. It was in this small Spanish town where Ballesteros first held a crude 3-iron and where he invented the shots which he would later show on the grandest golf stages,
He was only 23 years old when he won the Masters by 10 shots in the final round. He also won the British Open three times, and became Europe’s inspiration in the same manner that Arnold Palmer was America’s inspiration.
“We lost a great entertainer and ambassador for our sport,” Jack Nicklaus said. “No matter the golf that particular day, you always knew you were going to be entertained. Seve’s enthusiasm was just unmatched by anybody I think that ever played the game.”
Spanish media splashed the headlines “The Inventor of Spanish Golf” and “Life of a Legend” Saturday as tributes were paid by athletes and other notable figures to Ballesteros.
World No. 1 Lee Westwood tweeted: “Seve made European golf what it is today.”
Jose Maria Olazabal, whose pairing with Ballesteros was the Ryder Cup history’s most successful, was also very emotional as he played through tears at the Spanish Open. Olazabal broke down as a minute of silence was offered by the players in honour of Ballesteros.
“I just played the most difficult round of my life,” said Olazabal. “I don’t think there will ever be another player like him. There can be others that are very good, but none will have his charisma.”
Bernard Gallacher, who captained Ballesteros in three Ryder Cups between 1991 and 1995, said: “Every European Tour player today should thank Seve for what they’re playing for. America had Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer – Seve was our Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus rolled into one. You can’t speak too highly of him, Seve was Europe’s best ever player.”