By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
This weekend, the golfing world was stunned and saddened to learn of the death of the man we all simply know as Seve. The Spaniard won five majors in his career and played an important role in making the European Tour the success it is now. He will also forever be associated with the Ryder Cup, after helping Europe lift the trophy in 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995 before captaining them to another victory at Valderrama two years later.
I never had the privilege of meeting the man. I don't have any anecdotes to share about him, but such was the magnitude of his persona and play on the golf course that it still had an effect on me as a teenager growing up almost a million miles away from Europe in sunny Brunei. I was just a punk kid when I first saw him play on TV in 1995. I was someone who preferred shooting hoops and kicking a ball around more than anything else. I thought golf was for losers. I was wrong.
Seve made me fall in love with the Ryder Cup. The type of shots he was able to hit, the imagination and the passion he brought was incredible. Even when his health was failing - he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 - Seve remained an inspirational figure. He was too unwell to make the trip to Celtic Manor for last year's Ryder Cup but addressed the European team during a ten-minute conference call from his home. Seve's speech remains a closely guarded secret but it inspired the Europeans to victory against the Americans as only he could.
I always felt a tinge of jealousy when I hear people talk about how great it was to watch George Best with the football at his feet in the mid-1960s. Aside from some grainy highlights footage, I never really got the chance to experience his genius. With Seve, I was able to experience some of his magic. I am grateful for that.
Seve Ballesteros passed away on Saturday morning due to respiratory failure after a long battle with brain cancer. He was just 54.
Tribute - In words
"Seve was one of the most talented and exciting golfers to ever play the game. His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed. His death came much too soon." Tiger Woods.
"It's a sad day. Lost an inspiration, genius, role model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve." Lee Westwood.
"America had Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer - Seve was our Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus rolled into one. You can't speak too highly of him, Seve was Europe's best ever player." Bernard Gallacher.
"What he did in sport is unbelievable. These are tough moments." Rafael Nadal.