OUR THOUGHTS and prayers are with Severiano Ballesteros as he fights for his life in a Madrid hospital.
The 51-year-old, five-time Major winner has just undergone a third operation to remove a brain tumor, diagnosed earlier this month.
Seve was to European golf in the 1980s what Tiger Woods has been to world golf in the 2000s. He won 49 times on the European Tour and nine times on the PGA TOUR, including three Open Championships and two Masters titles.
The swashbuckling Spaniard turned a new generation on to the sport with his ability to pull off spectacular shots from impossible positions. His imagination and exciting brand of golf made him a firm favorite with the galleries. He was almost an adopted son to fans in England and Scotland alike.
But, much more than that, Seve put a smile back on the face of golf. His love and passion for the Sport of Kings was plain for all to see. He was certainly one of the reasons why I took up the game.
Like Tiger, Seve was born to be a golfer. He learned to play the game on the beaches near his home in Cantabria, using a three-iron given to him by one of his old brothers.
Vicente and Baldomero were also professional golfers, albeit less successful. So too is Seve’s nephew, Raúl.
Five-time Major winner facing biggest challenge
Seve burst onto the scene at Royal Birkdale in 1976, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the Open, eventually finishing runner-up to Johnny Miller.
His first Major came in the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham St Annes when he finished three strokes ahead of Jack Nicklaus.
Seve also won the World Match Play Championship five times, but he wasn’t just a talented individual; he was a great team player too.
His partnership with fellow Spaniard José Maria Olazábal was the most successful in the history of the Ryder Cup, with 11 wins and two halves in 15 matches.
Seve’s magic heralded an era of dominance by Europe and he would later lead the European team to victory as non-playing captain on home soil. The 1997 event at Valderrama was the first to be staged in continental Europe.
He was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999 and was also the driving force behind a new team competition – the Seve Trophy.
Seve’s appearances in the 1990s were sporadic due to back problems. Now he is facing the biggest battle of his life.
If his illustrious golf career is anything to go by, he won’t go down without a fight.