Spanish golf legend Ballesteros dies

5 7 2011 81160 l - Spanish golf legend Ballesteros dies
MADRID: Spanish golf legend Severiano Ballesteros, one of golf''s all-time greats who lifted five majors and turned a new generation on to the sport, died Saturday aged 54 three years after undergoing an operation to remove a brain tumour. Ballesteros was a charismatic figure who led the European challenge to the decades-long supremacy of the United States. From the mid-1970s to the 1990s, "Seve" was one of the sport''s most celebrated personalities, collecting 87 career titles before retiring in 2007 with back problems. Known for his flamboyant and imaginative style of play, he famously won one of his three British Open titles by playing a shot from a temporary parking lot. Ballesteros was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour after losing consciousness at Madrid airport on October 6, 2008. He underwent four operations to remove the tumour and reduce swelling in his skull, as well as chemotherapy. He called his battle against the tumour the "hardest challenge of my life". Ballesteros announced his presence as a teenager in 1976 when he finished second at the British Open, just two years after turning pro aged 16. Topping the European Tour Order of Merit that year -- he would go on to do so on another five occasions -- was a measure of compensation for being the runner-up after leading at the midway point. In 1979, aged 21, he became the youngest winner of the British Open. A year later, he was the first European to make the breakthrough at the Augusta Masters, opening the floodgates for the likes of Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, and his Spanish compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal. That first of two Masters titles made him, at 23, the youngest winner before a 21-year-old Tiger Woods broke his record in 1997. Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999, where he joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Golf Digest magazine in 2000 ranked him as the greatest golfer Europe has produced.