Saturday, 7 May 2011

Thank You for the Magic and that Smile. RIP Seve Ballesteros (1957-2011)

Waking up after a long post-election lie-in this morning, I found myself confronted with sad news.

No, not the defeat of the AV vote in the referendum because that was a pretty much a forgone conclusion. No, it was the sad, sad news that Severino Ballesteros has passed away at the age of 54 that filled me with immense sadness this morning.

RIP Seve
Seve Ballesteros was one of the most loved and charismatic golfers and indeed sportsmen, the world has ever known.

He died after a long and couragous fight against cancer and the great shock to me was the fact that I was under the impression that it was a fight he'd been winning of late - I hadn't expected this news.

The courage he showed in fighting the brain tumour with which he was diagnosed in 2008 was typical of a man who played his beloved sport with a swash-bucking style that endeared him to fans the world over.

Here he is speaking to the BBC in 2009 after undergoing successful surgery on the tumour.

He won 5 Majors - the British Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and became the first European to win the fabled Green Jacket at August in the US Masters in 1980 and again in 1983. He won a total of 87 titles in his career. He was also the World Number 1 in the rankings between 1986 and 1989.

But for me, as a young chick of 28, I do not remember him in this period when he was at his towering, individual best. No, I remember him in later years when he led the European Ryder Cup team with passion to famous victories over the Americans. In his Ryder Cup career, he played in 8 and won 20 points from 37 matches. For me, it was his captaining of the team to victory in 1997 at Valderrama that will live long in the memory.

A New Golf
Seve brought something new to golf. His daring and flamboyant attitude broke down the old golfing stereotypes. He was fearless and exciting to watch.

He did more for the European game of golf in moving it forward than any other when it reached a cross-roads in the 1970s. He brought it to greater prominence and proved to be an inspiration for his fellow Spanish compatriots and for up-and-coming sportsmen across the world.

Here is a prime example of Seve's brilliance. Who else could you imagine playing an improvised golf shot from off his knees?! An absolute legend.

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss said of Seve:

"He was a fighter - feisty, skilful, cheeky and loveable.

"He had hair as black as raven's wing, a wonderful set of teeth and a lovely smile. When Seve was in a good mood the world was happy. I will always remember that smile".

Here is a prime case in Allis' point. Seve's birdie putt on the 18th at the 1984 British Open which set him up for his second Open championship victory.

Thank you for the memories and thank you for that wonderful, infectious smile.

RIP Seve Ballesteros

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