Severiano Ballesteros

(b. 1957)

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Spanish golfer, whose many international triumphs established Spain's presence in international golf.

Born in the fishing village of Pedrena, near Santander on the northern coast of Spain, ‘Sevvy’ Ballesteros was destined for fame as a professional golfer. His three brothers are all golf professionals and his uncle, Ramon Sota, was Spain's top golfer in the 1950s and 1960s, when Ballesteros was growing up. Turning professional in 1974, Ballesteros won the Spanish Young Professional title that season. He appeared on the international scene in 1976, when he tied with Jack Nicklaus for second place in the British Open and won his first title at the Dutch Open, finishing the year as number one in Europe. He maintained this position in both 1977 and 1978. In 1979 Ballesteros became the youngest competitor to win the British Open since 1872; he won the same title again in 1984 and 1988. In 1980, at twenty-three, he became the youngest ever player, and only the second European, to win the US Masters, leading from start to finish; he won the title again in 1983.

Over the course of his career Ballesteros won more than £5 million in prize money and collected over seventy international titles, including the national championships of Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Kenya, as well as in his native country. With a flair for recovery play, Ballesteros was a stalwart of the Ryder Cup, crowning his career in 1997 by serving as team captain when the competition was played in Spain for the first time. Latterly fitness affected his performance and he retired from professional golf in 2007 and was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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