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'Seve was golf's Elvis' - McGinley

Updated: Saturday, 07 May 2011 21:20

Seve Ballesteros - Paul McGinley says he was golf's Elvis
Seve Ballesteros - Paul McGinley says he was golf's Elvis

Paul McGinley has described Seve Ballesteros as the game's Elvis Presley. The Spanish golfing legend passed away earlier today at the age of only 54 after his long battle against a brain tumour.

‘I used to say to him and he used to laugh that he reminded me a lot of Elvis Presley,’ said McGinley.

‘I know that's a big thing to say, but not just in trail-blazing but also in looks I don't think it's too high a thing to say that he was very comparable.

‘What I remember is the charisma and the passion. The Ryder Cup would not be what it is without Seve. He led the charge. Nobody in the golf game has ever had the same charisma. When he smiled the whole world smiled with him - it's the old saying. He had that ability.

‘And it was the same when he scowled - everybody knew how Seve was feeling. His emotions were multiplied by 10 all the time. You could easily read Seve and I think that's what endeared him so much to so many people, especially the people in Britain and Ireland. I think that's where he had his greatest affinity with the golfing public.

‘Seve was one of those guys where if you liked him he liked you back 10 times more and if you didn't like Seve he hated you 10 times more. He was that kind of personality. Yes he had his moments and his brushes with authorities, but that's what kind of made him.

‘He lived his life in a very emotional way and that's made him so endearing.’

Ballesteros turned professional in 1974 at the age of 16 and made his first impact two years later by finishing second in the Open alongside Jack Nicklaus at Royal Birkdale.

He won the Open three times and the Masters twice among 87 tournament wins and played an inspirational role in the Ryder Cup, helping Europe to lift the trophy in 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995 before captaining them to another victory at Valderrama two years later.

McGinley said: ‘I think it's going to be a very emotional Ryder Cup with Jose Maria as captain next year and Seve not being there.

‘In the last few years of his life after he got sick it was extraordinary how humble he became. So humble, so touching and maybe not as emotional as he was. I saw a change in his personality where instead of being sorry for himself it was quite the opposite.

‘It was a case of him being very appreciative of the game, his friends, his family and people contacting him. It was not a soppy kind of emotion. He was just appreciative that people thought of him that highly and what the game had given him and what fun he had.

‘The European Tour, not just the Ryder Cup, would not be what it is today without Seve. It's just incredibly sad that he had such a lonely and sad end to his life, having been full of so much charisma and life and having had so much success.’

Like all those who met Ballesteros McGinley has his own cherished first memory.

‘I went as a boy to watch a practice round for the Irish Open at Royal Dublin. There might have been only 20 or 30 people around the tee at the par four 16th at the time and, with typical Irish humour, somebody challenged him to try to drive the green on his knees.

‘The hole was about 280 yards and he did it.’

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