Severiano Ballesteros

Example frontpage image Severiano Ballesteros was born 9 April 1957 in Pedreña, Cantabria, Spain,and grew up in a golfing family. His three brothers were all golf professionals and his uncle, Ramon Sota, was Spanish professional champion four times, and also finished 6th at the 1965 Masters. Although his brothers Vicente and Baldomero made little impact in tournament golf, his older brother Manuel finished in the top 100 on the European Tour order of merit every year from 1972 to 1983, and was later to become his manager.

Not suprisingly Severiano learned golf at an early age on the beaches near his home, using the 3-iron given to him by one of his brothers. By the age of 13, he was winning events and shooting 65. He turned professional in 1974, at just 16 years of age, and won the Spanish Professionals Championship the same year. In 1976, he burst onto the international scene with a second-place finish in The Open Championship, when he chased Johnny Miller to the finish before settling for second. He went on to win the European Tour Order of Merit (money title) that year, and repeated his Order of Merit win the following two years. He would go on to win this title six times, a record at the time, which has since been surpassed by Colin Montgomerie.

During one stretch in 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.He went on to win five major championships. The Masters: 1980, 1983. The Open Championship: 1979, 1984, 1988. His 1979 win made him the first golfer from continental Europe to win a major since Frenchman Arnaud Massy won The Open in 1907.

His 1980 win was the first at Augusta by a European player and at age 23, it made him the youngest ever winner, though this record was subsequently taken by Tiger Woods in 1997. Seve was also great at match play; he won the World Match Play Championship five times, and was a mainstay of the European Ryder Cup team for much of the 1980s and 1990s. He scored 20 points out of 37 matches against the United States; his partnership with fellow Spaniard José María Olazábal was the most successful in the history of the competition, with 11 wins and two halved matches out of 15 pairs matches. While Ballesteros was a member of European sides that won the Ryder Cup in 1985, retained the Cup in 1987 and 1989, and regained the Cup in 1995, the pinnacle of his career in the competition came in 1997, when he captained the winning European side at Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain. This was the first Ryder Cup ever held in continental Europe. In 2000, he created The Seve Trophy, a team competition similar to the Ryder Cup pitting a team from Great Britain and Ireland against one from continental Europe.

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 led to Ballesteros remaining in Europe full-time. He was one of the sport's leading figures from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s and inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1997.

Ballesteros has played sparingly in the last few years due to problems with his back, and made his first start in years at the 2005 Madrid Open. He said he would play more tournaments in the 2006 season. He entered the 2006 Open Championship, having played just one other event on the European Tour, The Open de France Alstom, where he missed the cut. He runs a thriving golf course design business, is married with three children and will be eligible for the Champions Tour upon turning 50 in 2007.

He was annnounced again as non-playing captain of the 2007 European team to defend the Royal Trophy against the Asian team at the Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok.

Think of Seve Ballesteros as the Arnold Palmer of Europe: a fiery, charismatic, good-looking, 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.