By Mike Patterson
It has been a decade since Seve Ballesteros tragically passed away, having cemented his place as one of golf’s all-time greats and left a legacy that inspires people across the sporting world.
The Spanish legend passed away on May 7, 2011 at the age of 54 after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour three years earlier.
Seve was a trailblazer for European golf, becoming the first European winner of The Masters in 1980 when he was just 23, the second of his five major championship victories and one of the 90 worldwide wins during his career.
Ballesteros also became a Ryder Cup superstar after his success helped bring about the addition of European players to the team to face the United States, helping Europe to five wins both as a player and captain.
Here is a look back at some of the key moments in the life and career of Seve Ballesteros……
1957 – Born April 9, Pedrena, Spain, the son of a farmer
1965 – Uncle Ramon Sota finishes sixth in Masters. Ballesteros learns to play with rusty three-iron on the beach near his home
1974 – Turns professional. Eight days after 17th birthday, scores 83 in first-ever round on European Tour at Spanish Open. With second-round 76 finishes 118th out of 135, but in October finishes fifth at Italian Open.
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1976 – Leads the Open at Birkdale for the first three days before finishing second to Johnny Miller. Four weeks later wins first European Tour title at Dutch Open and tops Order of Merit – with £21,494 total earnings.
1977 – Wins seven times around the world and wins Order of Merit again.
1978 – First victory in America at Greater Greensboro Open, plus seven other wins. European No 1 for third successive year.
1979 – Wins Open Championship at Royal Lytham, earning title “car park champion” from beaten American Hale Irwin for one particular shot. Makes Ryder Cup debut.
1980 – Wins Masters at Augusta, the first European ever to do so. Was 10 ahead with nine to play, but wins by four.
1981 – Wins first of five World Match Play titles at Wentworth. Left out of Ryder Cup team in dispute with European Tour.
1983 – Wins second Masters by four again, firing last-round 69 while co-leaders Ray Floyd and Craig Stadler score 75 and 76.
1984 – Stops Tom Watson achieving Open record-equalling sixth title, closing birdie at St Andrews the sweetest moment of his career.
1985 – Helps Europe to first Ryder Cup victory since 1957. With four more wins on European Tour has already captured 27 titles.
1986 – European No 1 again with record six victories, but misses chance of another Masters after hitting into the water on the 15th. Nicklaus wins instead aged 46. If there is one shot Ballesteros would like again that is it.
1987 – Part of European side that wins Ryder Cup on American soil for first time. Start of partnership with Jose Maria Olazabal that brings 11 wins, two halves and only two defeats.
1988 – Last-round 65 brings third Open victory and second at Royal Lytham. Tops Order of Merit for fifth time. Marries banker’s daughter Carmen Botin.
1989 – Europe triumph at The Belfry again. Ballesteros and Olazabal unbeaten on first two days, but he then loses in controversial fashion to Paul Azinger.
1991 – European No 1 for sixth time. Involved in more controversy with Azinger at Kiawah Island ‘War on the Shore’ cup match. Does Wentworth double of Volvo PGA (after play-off with Colin Montgomerie) and fifth World Match Play.
1995 – 50th European Tour win at Spanish Open proves to be his last, as does his eighth Ryder Cup cap in dramatic win at Oak Hill.
1997 – Non-playing captain as Ryder Cup is successfully defended at Valderrama in first match on Spanish soil, but drops to lowest-ever 136th on Order of Merit.
1998 – Last top-10 finish on European Tour comes at Dubai Desert Classic.
2002 – Cuts back schedule to just nine events in Europe because of back trouble, but still beats Montgomerie in the Seve Trophy for a second successive time.
2003 – Fined and reprimanded by Tour after calling them “PGA mafia”, having refused to accept slow-play penalty. Loses heavily to Montgomerie in rematch and does not play again for two years.
2005 – After break-up of marriage comes out of retirement at Madrid Open, but shoots 77-73. Does not play again for eight months, but is involved in ugly clash with a Tour referee at his home club.
2006 – Scores 81-81 for last place on return at French Open, then 74-77 in first Open appearance since 2001.
2007 – Returns to Masters after four-year gap, but shoots 86-80. At Carnoustie on July 16 announces retirement from golf.
2008 – Diagnosed with a brain tumour and undergoes four bouts of treatment.
2009 – Vows to play in 2010 Open at St Andrews, despite ongoing problems with his vision.
2011 – Dies at home in northern Spain at the age of 54.
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