Ballesteros dies at home in north Spain

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Golf legend Seve Ballesteros has died at the age of 54, his family have confirmed via his official website.

The Spaniard, who won five majors and was instrumental in growing golf's popularity, passed away at 0110 BST this morning due to respiratory failure.



Ballesteros had fought a long battle with a neurological condition since being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008.



The family's statement read: "At 02:10 hours [Spanish time], Seve Ballesteros - accompanied by his family at his home in Pedrena - died due to respiratory failure.

"The family appreciates all the expressions of support and affection they have received since Seve was admitted on October 5, 2008 at the Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid.



"At the same time, please respect our privacy at such a painful time. Thank you very much."



Ballesteros, who announced his retirement from golf in 2007, collapsed at Madrid Airport in October 2008 and two days later came confirmation that he had 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 La 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.



In December 2009 he appeared on television to receive the BBC's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Personality of the Year event from his former Ryder Cup partner - and now captain - Jose Maria Olazabal.



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 - his greatest moment really - 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 at Augusta in honour of Ballesteros.



European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said: "This is such a very sad day for all who love golf.

"Seve's unique legacy must be the inspiration he has given to so many to watch, support, and play golf, and finally to fight a cruel illness with equal flair, passion, and fierce determination.



"We have all been so blessed to live in his era. He was the inspiration behind The European Tour."



The flags at Real Club de Golf El Prat will be flown at half-mast in him memory for today's third round of the Spanish Open, while the players will wear black ribbons and there will also be a minute's silence.



Bernard Gallacher, who captained Ballesteros in three Ryder Cups between 1991 and 1995, said: "He felt it was his duty as the best player in the world to inspire the European team.

"When I became captain in 1991 he was still one of the best players in the world and he former a formidable partnership with Olazabal, virtually unbeatable."



Ballesteros also delivered an inspirational message to Colin Montgomerie's victorious team at Celtic Manor last year, and Gallacher added: "Seve's best golf was played in the 1980s but he was still inspiring this new generation of golfers - the Martin Kaymers, the Ross Fishers, we've heard from Lee Westwood how as a young boy he would watch Seve and everyone would want to copy and emulate Seve.



"Every European Tour player today should thank Seve for what they're playing for. America had Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer - Seve was our Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus rolled into one.



"You can't speak too highly of him, Seve was Europe's best ever player."



Ballesteros' former caddie Billy Foster remembers him as "an absolute gentleman, the ultimate warrior."



Foster added on Sky Sports News: "There's not many players I've worked for in my time that have that aura about them. It was a special time - I was probably 25 years old, I'd caddied for maybe 10 years, and I got the ultimate dream chance of working for an absolute superstar."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower