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Seve Ballesteros passes away

Updated: Saturday, 07 May 2011 15:47

Seve Ballesteros has lost his battle with cancer
Seve Ballesteros has lost his battle with cancer

Golf legend Seve Ballesteros has died at the age of 54, his family have confirmed via his official website.

The Spaniard, who won five majors and was instrumental in growing golf's popularity, passed away at 0110 BST this morning due to respiratory failure.

Ballesteros had fought a long battle with a neurological condition since being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008.

The family's statement at www.seveballesteros.com read: 'At 02:10 hours [Spanish time], Seve Ballesteros - accompanied by his family at his home in Pedrena - died due to respiratory failure.

'The family appreciates all the expressions of support and affection they have received since Seve was admitted on October 5, 2008 at the Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid.

'At the same time, please respect our privacy at such a painful time. Thank you very much.'

Ballesteros, who announced his retirement from golf in 2007, collapsed at Madrid Airport in October 2008 and two days later came confirmation that he had a brain tumour.

He underwent an initial 12-hour operation, but further surgery was necessary before he was well enough to return home and begin chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

'I am very motivated and working hard, although I am aware that my recovery will be slow and therefore I need to be patient and have a lot of determination,' he said at the time.

'For these reasons I am following strictly all the instructions that the doctors are giving me. Besides, the physiotherapists are doing a great job on me and I feel better every day.'

After a second course of chemotherapy at Madrid's La Paz Hospital in February 2009 he said on his website: 'The results of the check-up were really positive, better even than the first ones.'

Two more courses followed and four months later Ballesteros made his first public appearance, saying it was 'a miracle' to be alive.

In December 2009 he appeared on television to receive the BBC's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Personality of the Year event from his former Ryder Cup partner - and now captain - Jose Maria Olazabal.

He won the Open three times, the Masters twice 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.

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

His first major title came in the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham, he then became Masters champion in 1980 and 1983 and lifted the Claret Jug again at St Andrews in 1984 - his greatest moment really - and back at Lytham in 1988.

After a total of 87 tournament wins, his retirement came following years of battling an arthritic back and knee problems.

He was planning a farewell appearance for fans at last year's Open at St Andrews - not in the main event, but in the four-hole Champions Challenge - but was not well enough to travel.

Only last month Phil Mickelson decided on a Spanish menu for the Champions Dinner at The Masters at Augusta in honour of Ballesteros.

The regional government of Cantabria has announced that the golfer's funeral will take place at 1pm on Wednesday at the San Pedro parish church in his home village of Pedrena near Santander.

‘Seve will be cremated at a ceremony that will be as intimate as possible and at a place that nobody will know,’ the Ballesteros family were quoted as saying. ‘That was his express wish. His ashes will remain at his estate, at his home in Pedrena.’

The golfer's brother Baldomero said in the report: ‘The funeral rites will be as simple as those for any neighbour from the village. He was born here and here he will remain.’

In Pictures: Seve Ballesteros
We take a look at some of the greatest images from the career of Spanish golf legend Seve Ballesteros.

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