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Defining Moments: Seve Ballesteros

With the British Open in full swing this week, we take a look into the career of three-time winner Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros.

Seve the golfing hero.

Arguably Spain’s most iconic golfer to date, Seve Ballesteros was one of the sport’s leading figures of his time. He enjoyed an incredible 61 weeks at No. 1 in the official World Golf Ranking. Born in 1957, Ballesteros was introduced to golf from a young age. The sport was common in his family with his uncle being a Spanish professional champion and his two brothers also turning professional. His eldest brother went on to become his manager after finishing in the top 100 of the European Tour each year for over 10 years.

Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros

Ballesteros turned professional at only 16, but it was at age 19 he made a name for himself storming onto the scenes finishing second in the Open Championship. During the same year, he went on to win the European Tour Order of Merit, which he won a total of six times. He won his first Open Championship in 1979 with a closing round of 70, making him the youngest player to win The Open. It was during this tournament that he famously hit his first shot into a car park on the 16th hole, but still managed to finish with a birdie. He was famous for pulling off the almost impossible shots and is known as one of the best to ever walk the greens. He went on to win the Open Championship again in 1984 and 1988.

Winning The Open in 1998
Winning The Open in 1998

Ballesteros was also widely known for his record with the European Ryder Cup team. He tallied up a total of 22.5 points in 37 matches, and was undoubtedly the talisman of the team. He played a pivotal role in leading the European Ryder Cup team to victory five times. Ballesteros won an astonishing 50 European Tour titles and is regarded as the greatest Continental European golfer of all time. Notable winning titles include The Masters tournament, which he won twice in 1980 and 1983.

He famously quoted “I look into their eyes, shake their hand, pat their back and wish them luck, but I am thinking, I am going to bury you”.

The Spaniard’s final victory was in 1995 when he won the Peugeot Spanish Open. During his final years as a professional golfer, Ballesteros struggled with back-related injuries but refused to detach himself from the game. He went on to create the Seve Trophy, a tournament with one team representing Great Britain and Ireland and the other team Europe. He eventually retired from golf in 2007, ending a distinguished career in golf.

In 2008 Ballesteros was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He underwent numerous operations to remove the tumor but sadly in May 2011 his condition deteriorated and he passed away aged 54. Ballesteros will be remembered in the history books for his success throughout his golf career. He inspired and will continue to inspire many golfers to come.

Rest In Peace Seve!

BY - Eleanor Bailes

17 July 2014