Exactly five years ago today, at 2:10 a.m. of 7 May 2011 in Pedreña, a news item came as a huge shock to the entire world: “Seve Ballesteros, the greatest Spanish golfer ever, has died”. The Cantabrian sportsman could not overcome the damage caused by the brain tumour he had been diagnosed with two years and a half earlier, coupled with the consecutive surgeries that tried to bring the genius of Pedreña back to the path to victory, a path he never left during more than three decades of professional career.
Both national and international press showed strong expressions of support. All the media, regardless of language or ideology, decided to pay a heartfelt tribute to the “European tiger”, as the French journalist Yannick Cochennec called him. “The brightest star dies” (headline by Carlos Arribas, El País), “Glorious Ballesteros dies” (The Times), “Seve has faded away, art has faded away” (Le Figaro) were some of the headlines through which many professionals wanted to remember the great Spanish golfer in that fateful day that caused Cantabria to declare three days of official mourning.
His colleagues did not want to leave him alone in his farewell. José María Olazábal, former Chief Executive of the European Tour George O’Grady, Nick Faldo, Roger Chapman, Colin Montgomerie or Sam Torrance were some of the golfers who attended the funeral of Seve, a simple ceremony for a humble person who did not shy away from its origins.
The sporting dimension of Seve was such that in October 2008 The Times included him in the first position of a ranking entitled “Athletes who changed the way we live sports”. And even Lauren St John, his biographer, outlined that “he turned golf into pure theatre, into pure art”.
Five years have passed and the news item still strikes us. Today, a lustrum after he left us, his spirit continues to inspire a sport which he loved as his own. We don’t forget you, Seve.