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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tributes pour in for Seve Ballesteros after golfing legend dies from brain tumour at age of 54

By Daily Mail Reporter

★‘Lost an inspiration, genius, role model, hero and friend,’ says golfer Lee Westwood

Tributes: The world of sport is mourning the passing of Spanish Golf Legend Seve Ballesteros, who died today aged 54

Tributes have been pouring in from the world of sport following the news that golfer Seve Ballesteros has died.

World No1 golfer Lee Westwood tweeted: ‘It's a sad day. Lost an inspiration, genius, role model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve.’ Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, said: ‘RIP Ballesteros. One of golf’s greats.’

Ballesteros had suffered a 'severe deterioration' as he battled a brain tumour, his family said.

The five-time major winning Spaniard was recovering from surgeries performed in 2008 to remove a malignant tumor from his brain.

Other sports stars who have been paying tribute include Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal, who said: 'Seve is one of this country's great sportsmen. I've been lucky enough to meet him and play golf with him.’

In a statement on Ballesteros' website today, the family said the 54-year-old golfer passed away at 2:10 am local time at his home at Pedrena, in northern Spain, where he has mostly been since undergoing four operations in late 2008.

Ballesteros and his wife Carmen in 2004 at Spanish Crown Prince Felipe of Bourbon's wedding

In a statement, the Ballesteros family says it 'is very grateful for all the support and gestures of love that have been received since Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 5th October 2008'.

Ballesteros had earlier been blessed by a priest in a ceremony reserved for Catholics who are dangerously ill or close to death.

The golfing legend received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, according to Spanish national newspaper El Mundo.

Family man: Ballesteros with his former wife Carmen and their son Baldomero after winning the Volvo PGA championship at Wentworth in 1991

During the ceremony a priest uses olive oil to bless a patient on the forehead and hands while reciting prayers.

The paper said the sportsman had received Extreme Unction, an older term for the sacrament, but gave no further details.

The Anointing of the Sick is one part of the Last Rites ritual in the Catholic Church.

Battle: After a second course of chemotherapy in February 2009, Ballesteros said it was a 'miracle to be alive' at a press conference in Madrid Volvo World Match Play Championship just eight months later

Ballesteros, 54, who announced his retirement from golf in 2007, collapsed at Madrid Airport in October 2008 and two days later it was confirmed he was suffering from a brain tumour.

He underwent an initial 12-hour operation, but further surgery was necessary before he was well enough to return home and begin chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

'I am very motivated and working hard, although I am aware that my recovery will be slow and therefore I need to be patient and have a lot of determination,' he said at the time.

'For these reasons I am following strictly all the instructions that the doctors are giving me. Besides, the physiotherapists are doing a great job on me and I feel better every day.'

After a second course of chemotherapy at Madrid's Le Paz Hospital in February 2009 he said on his website: 'The results of the check-up were really positive, better even than the first ones.'

Two more courses followed and four months later Ballesteros made his first public appearance, saying it was 'a miracle' to be alive.

Comedy moment: Seve Ballesteros's sense of humour will be sorely missed

In December 2009 he appeared on television to receive the BBC's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Personality of the Year event.

He won the Open three times, the Masters twice and played an inspirational role in the Ryder Cup, helping Europe to lift the trophy in 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995 before captaining them to another victory at Valderrama two years later.

Ballesteros turned professional in 1974 at the age of 16 and made his first huge impact two years later by finishing second in the Open alongside Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale.

His first major title came in the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham, he then became Masters champion in 1980 and 1983 and lifted the Claret Jug again at St Andrews in 1984 - arguably his greatest moment - and back at Lytham in 1988.

After a total of 87 tournament wins, his retirement came following years of battling an arthritic back and knee problems.

He was planning a farewell appearance for British fans at last year's Open at St Andrews - not in the main event, but in the four-hole Champions Challenge - but was not well enough to travel.

Only last month Phil Mickelson decided on a Spanish menu for the Champions Dinner at The Masters in Augusta in honour of Ballesteros.

Vintage: Ballesteros saw off defending champion Tom Watson in memorable fashion, winning the second of his three Open championships, at St Andrews in 1984

Seve was the last of his kind

There will never be another golfer quite like Seve Ballesteros. Perhaps no other sportsman quite like him either.

Put together the charisma of Arnold Palmer and the shot-making skills of Tiger Woods and you come close. Yet at his peak, hard though it might be to believe, his appeal was greater than the sum of those two giants of the game.

In the 1980s Europe became blessed with a ‘Big Five’ of Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.

True great: Seve Ballesteros holds the Ryder Cup trophy in the rain in 1997 after Europe beat the United States

Legend: Seve Ballesteros reacting as he wins the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's in Lancashire

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