Sunday, May 8, 2011

Golf Legend Seve Ballesteros Dead at 54

Seve Ballesteros will forever be known as one of the greatest shotmakers and personalities in the history of golf. His unique talents made the impossible come true time and time again, leading to five major championships and a legion of passionate fans.

Ballesteros died at his home in Pedrena, Spain Saturday morning of complications from a cancerous brain tumor.

He burst onto the scene as a 19-year old in 1976. That year he won the Dutch Open and finished second at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

Seve won his first major in 1979 at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's Golf Club. In one of his most famous finishes, Ballesteros hit his tee shot on the 16th hole into a grass parking lot. He then took a free drop and smashed his approach onto the green where he made a remarkable birdie.

He went on to win a total of three Open Championship's and two Masters titles en route to a Hall of Fame career (inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999).

Seve's flair for the dramatic endeared him to an entire generation of golfers, including many professionals. His close friendship and mentorship of two-time Masters Champion and fellow countryman José María Olazábal is the most direct influence.

The two formed the most successful Ryder Cup team of all time. They played pairs 15 times in their careers and won 11 times with just two halves. Seve's wide won the Ryder Cup in 1985, then retained it in 1987 and 1989. He won it again in 1995 but his proudest moment may have come as team captain in 1997 when the European's won in Valderama, Spain. It was the first Ryder Cup held in continental Europe.

Seve will be greatly missed, but thankfully we have highlights. Here's the SportsCenter recap of his 1979 and 1988 Open Championship's including the famous parking lot incident.

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