Artículos de Mayo 2011

Severiano Ballesteros

Sábado, 7 Mayo 2011

   

Seve Ballesteros, the charismatic Spanish golfer who won the Masters twice and the British Open three times and helped propel Europe’s rise in the Ryder Cup competition with the United States, died early Saturday at his home in northern Spain, where his struggle with brain cancer had gained wide attention in the sports world. He was 54.  Ballesteros had surgery for a cancerous brain tumor in October 2008 and had been cared for at his home in the coastal town of Pedreña, where he died early Saturday morning.

Ballesteros was only 19 and virtually unknown when he was thrust into the golf spotlight in July 1976. He was on the final hole of the British Open at Royal Birkdale, on England’s western coast, when he hit a brilliant chip shot between two bunkers that landed four feet from the cup. That daring chip, and the shots before it rescued him after wild drives into dunes and bushes, caught the golf world’s attention and defined the kind of game that made Ballesteros one of the finest players of his era.

With a passion for perfection, an uncommon intensity and a brilliant short game, Ballesteros won five major championships in a 10-year span. At Augusta National in 1980, he became the first European and, at 23, the youngest player to win the Masters. Ballesteros won the Masters again in 1983, captured the British Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988, and won the World Match Play Championship five times. Ballesteros won 45 events on the European Tour, and he was its earnings leader six times. He was in the vanguard of world-class Spanish golfers, preceding José Maria Olazábal, Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Sergio García. But he saw limited action in the United States, winning four PGA Tour events in addition to his Masters triumphs.

  Ballesteros was something of a golf magician. In addition to his miraculous recoveries from wild drives, he could balance three golf balls on top of one another, a favorite trick. Handsome with a swashbuckling style, he was a favourite of the television cameras.

Severiano Ballesteros was born in Pedreña, where his father, a former Spanish-champion rower, was a farmer. His three older brothers, Baldomero, Manuel and Vicente, were golf pros, as was his uncle Ramon Sota. As a boy, he batted stones with a homemade golf club on the beaches near his family’s stone farmhouse. When he was 8, his brother Manuel gave him a 3-iron, and he began to caddie at a prestigious golf club in Santander, near his home. He won the caddie championship there at age 12 with a 79, sneaked onto the course at night to practice his shots, quit school at 14 and turned pro at 16. Ballesteros won his first major when he captured the 1979 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England, and it was there, on the 16th hole of the final round, that he made one of his most storied shots.

Apart from his individual achievements, Ballesteros was a leading force in Europe’s emergence on the Ryder Cup scene after players from the continent were allowed to join with British and Irish players beginning in 1979. He played on eight Ryder Cup squads, including the 1987 team that achieved the Europeans’ first triumph in America, at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. He won 22 ½ points from his 37 matches over all. He was the nonplaying captain of Europe’s team in 1997, when the Valderrama Golf Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol played host to the event, the first time the Ryder Cup had been held on the continent.