Seve Ballesteros reminds me of my own father. When I banged on about Tiger Woods, David Beckham and Rafa Nadal my father was always telling me about a world class golfer called Severiano Ballesteros - how right was he?
It was sad to learn of Seve’s death at the age of 54 on Saturday; only 24 hours earlier his family had reported that his condition had worsened and then in the early hours of April 7 it was confirmed that the great Seve Ballesteros had died as a result of a cancerous brain tumour.
Seve had retired from professional golf in 2007 but that was not before he won five major golf tournaments (Masters - 1980, 83, The Open - 1979, 84 & 88).
Many described Seve as a flawed genius. His first shot on the opening hole of the US Masters could be the best ever played but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Seve’s second was a complete howler. He was a sportsman of variety and surprises and for that reason people loved him.
Many young professional golfers like the north of Ireland’s Rory McIlroy saw Seve as someone to look up to. He was confident, powerful and domineering. His success was used as the bench mark for all other European golfers to move towards.
In today’s world of sports stars almost become clone like. Just watch a post-match interview with any Premiership footballer; it’ll be filled with vague answers and clichés. Seve Ballesteros’s generation called a spade a spade and they weren’t afraid to fall out with someone if it meant that they were getting their point across.
Look to the world of tennis where in the 1980s we were spoilt rotten with the exploits of John McEnroe. Even Kevin Keegan’s infamous ‘I’ll love it if we beat them’ outburst after Newcastle played Leeds United in the 1990s is an example of the kind vulnerability of sports stars that we love. It’s boring when we we’re forced to listen to sportsmen and women talk to us like mannerly school children. Where’s the hubris?, where’s the insistence that they’re the best?, where’s the aggression?
Seve Ballesteros was not only a superb golfer but he was the perfect example of the true meaning of what it is to be a sports star.
Seve was never a man to shy away from a question and if answering it truthfully meant offending others then he couldn’t have cared less.
The way in which Seve thought translated into how he played his golf. The Spaniard would hole birdies from locations where others would be happy with a bogey; despite the best intentions of his caddie Seve always listened to himself first. It was because of headstrong attitude.
Seve was the type of man who spoke his mind and as a result the media loved him. In today’s world of sport there are too many men and women who, as Seve used to put it, “think the same”.
Seve was not a stranger to controversy and when asked about why he favoured such a colourful lifestyle he quipped: “Controversy can be a good thing,” he said. “It’s boring if everyone thinks the same.”
If anyone needed any understanding of just how popular Seve was all they had to do was look at who said what yesterday. Tiger Woods described him a “genius”. Colin Montgomery said that he was golf’s equivalent to Muhammad Ali and an entire country described him as the father of Spanish golf.
There’ll never be another Seve Ballesteros and the world of golf will never be the same without him.