A short release from Seve BallesterosÂ family yesterday gave a clue to the severity of his condition, preparing the golf world in a way for the tragic news this morning that the great swashbuckling Spaniard has made his way to the first tee of the great golf course in the sky.
And all of golf will mourn the passing of a legend, defeated too soon by the cruelest of diseases, one that so unfairly robbed us of one of the games great geniuses. Tributes will pour in and they will be richly deserved as he is the man who singlehandedly changed the face of the European game and put it on the path to its celebrated dominance in modern times.
And for those of us who were privileged to witness his genius, we are left with memories to cherish. Who can forget that celebration of that successful putt on the 18th at St AndrewÂs in 1984, or that Ryder Cup passion in 1985 at The Belfry or the pride as the winning captain in 1997 at Valderrama?
We have been robbed; first by his inexplicable loss of form later in his career and now of his role as an elder statesman in the game. Gone is the man, but never the memories of one of the greatest to have graced the fairways of the world.
Pity the great rules official in the sky when he asks for his first free drop in the eternal matchplay game that we all know he will win.
The Sunshine Tour salutes you. Rest in peace, Señor.
Severiano Ballesteros Sota (9 April 1957-7 May 2011)
1. 1979 defeated Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw by 3 strokes
2. 1984 defeated Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer by 2 strokes
3. 1988 defeated Nick Price by 2 strokes
1. 1980 defeated Gibby Gilbert, Jack Newton by 4 strokes
2. 1983 defeated Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite by 4 strokes
45 European Tour titles from 1976 to 1995
4 PGA Tour wins from 1978 to 1988
6 Japan Tour wins from 1977 to 1991
31 other titles, including 2 Million Dollar Challenge wins (1983, 1984)