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Seve Ballesteros

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Seve Ballesteros in 1983

Seve Ballesteros was a 5-time major championship winner.

David Cannon/Getty Images

Seve Ballesteros was a 5-time major championship winner whose resourcefulness, imagination and creativity on the course were legendary.

Date of birth: April 9, 1957
Place of birth: Pedrena, Spain
Died: May 7, 2011
Nickname: "Seve" is short for Severiano
Seve Ballesteros Pictures

Tour Victories:

• PGA Tour: 9
• European Tour: 50

Major Championships:

5
• Masters: 1980 and 1983
• British Open: 1979, 1984, 1988

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Named European Player of the Century in 2000
• Named Spanish Sportsman of the Century in 2000
• European Tour Player of the Year, 1985, 1988, 1991
• European Tour money leader, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1986, 1988, 1991
• Member, Europe Ryder Cup team, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995
• Captain, European team, 1997 Ryder Cup

Quote, Unquote:

• Seve Ballesteros: "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.' "

Tom Kite: "When he gets going, it's almost as if Seve is driving a Ferrari and the rest of us are in Chevrolets."

Lee Trevino: "Every generation or so there emerges a golfer who is a little bit better than anybody else. I believe Ballesteros is one of them."

Ben Crenshaw: "Seve plays shots I don't even see in my dreams."

Seve Ballesteros Biography:

Think of Seve Ballesteros as the Arnold Palmer of Europe: a fiery, charismatic, good-looking, swashbuckling, risk-taking player whose star power elevated the European Tour to new levels, and helped Europe achieve equality - ultimately superiority - in the Ryder Cup.

Creativity, imagination and short-game brilliance were the hallmarks of Ballesteros' game. He might miss the fairway off the tee, but at his best, it rarely hurt him. He even made birdie after playing from a parking lot during his 1979 British Open win.

Ballesteros grew up in a golfing family. His three brothers were golf pros; an uncle, Ramon Sota, finished 6th at the 1965 Masters. Ballesteros learned golf at age 7 using a cut-down 3-iron; by 13, he was winning events and shooting 65.

He turned pro in 1974, just 16 years old, and won the Spanish Professionals Championship that year. In 1976, he won five times on the European Tour and claimed the money title. He made up 4 shots on Arnold Palmer at the Lancome Trophy to get the victory; at the British Open, the 19-year-old chased Johnny Miller to the finish before settling for second.

During one stretch of 1978, Ballesteros won six consecutive weeks on three different continents. In 1979, the first of his five majors came at the British Open. He won his next major played, the Masters, but was disqualified from the 1980 U.S. Open when he was late for his tee time.

Controversy and success went hand in hand with Ballesteros. In 1981, he was voted off the European Ryder Cup team for playing too much in America. Then a dispute with the U.S. PGA Tour over playing commitments - Seve wanted to play part-time in America; the Tour said all-or-nothing - led to Ballesteros remaining in Europe full-time.

Ballesteros dominated the European Tour for much of the 1980s, and led Europe to its first big wins in the Ryder Cup. In eight Ryder Cup appearances, Ballesteros compiled a 20-12-5 record. In foursomes and fourballs, Ballesteros was often paired with fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal. The "Spanish Armada," as the team was called, became the most successful pairing in Ryder Cup history, going 11-2-2. The team's 12 points earned is double the points of the next most successful Ryder Cup pairing.

Beginning in the mid 1990s, Ballesteros' driving became more erratic. His final win on the European Tour was in 1995. Seve played more and more sparingly after that, nearly ceasing competitive golf after around 2003. He played briefly on the Champions Tour in 2007 before announcing his retirement.

The Seve Trophy, introduced in 2000, is a Ryder Cup-style event that pits teams representing Continental Europe and Great Britain/Ireland.

Late in 2008 Ballesteros was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was removed in several long surgeries. More surgeries and treatment continued in the ensuing years, but Ballesteros died of the cancer and its effects on May 7, 2011, at age 54.

Photo Gallery: Seve Ballesteros through the years

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