Golf great Seve Ballesteros dies at 54 |

Golf great Seve Ballesteros dies at 54

Associated Press

MADRID (AP) – Golf great Seve Ballesteros has died. He was 54.

According to a statement on his website, Ballesteros died early Saturday surrounded by his family at his home in the northern Spanish town of Pedrena.

The Ballesteros family said it “is very grateful for all the support and gestures of love that have been received since Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 5th October 2008.”

On Friday, his family announced that the five-time major winner had suffered “severe deterioration” in his recovery from a cancerous brain tumor.

Ballesteros fainted at Madrid’s international airport while waiting to board a flight to Germany on Oct. 6, 2008, and was subsequently diagnosed with the brain tumor. One of his operations was a 6 1/2-hour procedure to remove the tumor and reduce swelling around the brain. After leaving the hospital, he had chemotherapy.

He had undergone four operations in late 2008.

One of the biggest stars in Spain, even though golf was never a popular sport, news of his downturn transcended to other sports. Tennis star Rafael Nadal called Ballesteros “one of the greats of this country without a doubt, a reference point for all Spanish athletes.”

Ballesteros looked thin and pale while making several public appearances in 2009 after being given what he referred to as the “mulligan of my life.” He rarely had been seen in public since March 2010, when he fell off a golf cart and hit his head on the ground.

His few appearances or public statements were usually in connection through work with his Seve Ballesteros Foundation to fight cancer.

After lobbying to have the Ryder Cup expanded to include continental Europe in 1979, Ballesteros helped beat the United States in 1985 to begin two decades of dominance.

Ballesteros retired in 2007 because of a long history of back pain, turning his focus to golf course design.