Severiano Ballesteros (1957- )
Born Pedrena, Spain, Ballesteros has been one of the world's top golfers for over 20 years. His arrival revitalised European golf during the 1980s. While his talent has not translated into a profusion of victories in the Majors, he will be remembered as the master of the recovery shot. His place in golf's hall of fame is assured.
Ballesteros like many other golfers grew up with golf. His uncle was the professional at his local club and he himself caddied there. From the age of 8, he would sneak onto the course and play a few holes. In 1973 aged 16, he turned professional and brought a freshness and intensity to the game not seen since Palmer's era. When he tied Nicklaus for second in the Open in 1976 the world took note. His first Major victory was the Open in 1979 - the youngest player to ever win. He repeated that statistic in the US Masters a year later. In 1980, he was a member of the Ryder Cup team which broke America's domination of the event.
Although he is still active and still winning tournaments, he has not had an impact on the Majors over the last few years. He has been criticised in the golfing press for his poor form during 1997. However in a BBC interview he acknowledged his poor form an attributed it to severe and constant back pain.
However 1997 was also the year on which Ballesteros captained the victorious European team in the Ryder Cup on home Spanish soil. His mediterranean passion and tireless leadership was evident throughout.
Despite treatment, Ballesteros has never regained his previous form. In 1999, he declared that he is devoting less and less time to championship golf and at the time of writing (1999) is all but retired. He will be remembered as a simply outstanding player and a hero of European golf.