Seve Ballesteros transcended golf.
He burst onto the scene with flair and did things nobody had quite seen before.
Seve embodied a once-in-a-generation player.
Sounds similar to the way Tiger Woods influenced the game upon his arrival in the late 1990s.
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Well, Seve’s impact was just as monumental.
Think about it.
Without Seve, would Spain and continental Europe have spawned so many stars?
Without Seve, would the European Tour flourish in a way that has witnessed a revival overseas against America’s stranglehold on the sport?
Without Seve, would the Ryder Cup be what it is today? And without Seve, would players have tried to emulate his creative genius around the course?
The answer to all is a simple no.
Seve Ballesteros died at the age of 54 from cancerous brain tumors.
His impact, however, will last much longer.
Seve won countless golf tournaments and captured five major championships.
His victory at the 1980 Masters was more than just a lifetime ticket to Augusta National -- it was the first time a European donned the green jacket.
His ability to remain the European Tour’s star throughout the 1980s kept that tour thriving and shaped what it has become today -- a place where the top-ranked non-Americans craft their games.
When the Ryder Cup moved away from the traditional America vs. Great Britain and Ireland competition to include the rest of Europe, it elevated Seve’s stature even more.
He partnered with countryman Jose Maria Olazabal to form the Spanish Armada, which produced several victories in the Ryder Cup.
Bradenton resident Paul Azinger tweeted Saturday how tough he was in Ryder Cup play. “I’m saddened by the news of Seve’s passing,” Azinger tweeted. “He was the toughest, most passionate, most patriotic competitor I’ve ever faced.”
Azinger also said via Twitter that Seve was one of the first people to call him after he got sick with lymphoma, a form of cancer, in 1993.
“Seve was a giver,” Azinger said. “He was an encourager and teacher on and off the course.”
The two had a fierce rivalry that raised the Ryder Cup’s intensity to where it is today .
Basically, Seve was the Arnold Palmer of Europe. He was simply the King across the pond.
But it was Ballesteros’ imagination, stemming from several missed fairways, that captivated everyone -- including the current professional crop like Phil Mickelson, who is known for Seve magic around the greens, and Spaniard’s Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Seve’s escapability from danger and creative juices around the greens were on the same level as Beethoven’s musical prowess. During one of his three British Open triumphs, Seve famously played from a parking lot.
That was his style. And it will last forever.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017.