Tributes flood in for Severiano Ballesteros

Severiano Ballesteros

Ballesteros will be sorely missed

Tributes have poured in from the world of golf - and beyond - following the death of one of the sport's true legends, Severiano Ballesteros.

The Spaniard, who was 54, passed away in the early hours on Saturday 7 May after a protracted battle with cancer.

He won five majors and 87 titles overall in a glittering career, which also included successes in the Ryder Cup as both player and captain.

Seve Ballesteros: Your memories

Jack Nicklaus, 18-time major winner

"Golf has lost a great champion and a great friend. We also lost a great entertainer and ambassador for our sport.

"I have always had wonderful respect for Seve's ability, how he played the game, and the flair he brought to the sport.

"It was his creativity, his imagination and his desire to compete that made him so popular not only in Europe but throughout American galleries too.

"Seve's enthusiasm was just unmatched by anybody I think that ever played the game."

Jose Maria Olazabal

"What impressed me most in Seve was his strength, his fighting spirit and the passion he put into everything he did.

"I saw him for the last time the Saturday after the Masters. He was not well but his head was clear. We talked about many things, so many common memories, and particularly about the Ryder Cup.

"The best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing forhim, although no tribute will ever do justice to everything he did for golf and to everything he gave us."

Ernie Els

"Seve was an absolute hero of mine and I modelled so much of my game on him.

"I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with him many times, and the most memorable was our battle in the World Match Play of 1994. It was an unforgettable day and I feel honoured that I was able to share centre stage with him.

"Seve was a very proud man in golf and in life in general. He never backed down from a challenge.

"He opened up so many doors for Europe's players by winning all over the world and particularly in America. The European Tour would not be what it is today without him."

Nick Faldo

"Seve made an impact on me and on my life in this sport.

"He was a leader; bringing the spotlight to the European Tour, paving the way to European success at the Masters and bringing his relentless passion to the Ryder Cup.

"For golf, he was the greatest show on earth. I was a fan and so fortunate I had front row seat."

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady

"It is a very sad day that we have lost him.

"He was an inspiration to the European Tour, to everybody who follows the game, youngsters who play, people who have no interest in golf would watch him on television - he would do the impossible.

"He would change the atmosphere of a room when he came in; he approached everything with a fierce determination and can-do-anything attitude. The room lit up and there was a special air."

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss

"He was wonderful to watch, he brought delight and joy to many people. He was a fighter, feisty, skilful, loveable, cheeky - he was everything.

"I will always remember his smile - when Seve was in a good mood, the world was happy.

"The joyous scenes when Seve won the Open at St Andrews in 1984 are hard to beat in any sport. The look on his face when he holed the final putt - it was absolute bliss."

Colin Montgomerie, eight-time winner of the European Tour Order of Merit

"Very few people are called legends in this world and Seve was one of them.

"Never before in our lifetime have we seen such a talent swing a golf club.

"We've lost one of the great icons of the sport, but may we also celebrate Seve's life. I think it's only right at this time - what a character and what a passionate man he was.

"It was an honour to play under him as our captain in the Ryder Cup and an honour to play with him."

Former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher

"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. He felt it was his duty as the best player in the world to inspire the European team.

"When I became captain in 1991 he was still one of the best players in the world and he formed a formidable partnership with Olazabal, virtually unbeatable."

World number one golfer Lee Westwood

"It's a sad day. Lost an inspiration, genius, role model, hero and friend. Seve made European golf what it is today. RIP Seve."

Tiger Woods, winner of 14 majors

"I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Seve Ballesteros. I always enjoyed spending time with him at the Champions Dinner each year at the Masters.

"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."

Sergio Garcia

"I am devastated to hear of Seve's passing.

"He has inspired me so much throughout my career and I admired him above all for his fighting spirit - never more so than in the manner in which he has battled this terrible illness.

"It is the most enormous loss to the world of sport to lose this great man, although he will be remembered and loved forever.

"He was a champion on the golf course, but also a champion for the game in Spain and Europe. I send my sincerest condolences to Seve's family."

Phil Mickelson

"To me the greatest thing about Seve was his flair and his charisma. Because of the way he played the game of golf, you were drawn to him. You wanted to go watch him play."

Luke Donald

"My earliest memories of golf: throwing 10 balls around the green in the most difficult lies and trying to get them up and down, pretending to be Seve. I just wanted to be him. You will not be forgotten."

Padraig Harrington

"Seve was the most charismatic and artistic golfer I have ever seen play the game.

"He helped the tremendous growth of the European Tour during the 70s and 80s and inspired all those players who came after him. He will be sadly missed."

Miguel Angel Jiminez

"He was outstanding for his determination and his passion in everything he did.

"He never gave up, he always found a way out, and this was reflected in his personality."

Davis Love III, 2012 US Ryder Cup captain

"He was an icon in the game and somebody that I looked up to. I copied his swing.

"Everybody wanted to be as exciting and fun and flashy as Seve. Maybe hit a few more fairways, but everybody wanted that style. They wanted to be aggressive and able to play like that."

Nick Price

"He did for European golf what Tiger Woods did for worldwide golf. The European Tour would not be where it is today if not for Seve Ballesteros.

"His allegiance to the European Tour was admirable. The guy, he was an icon, just an incredible golfer."

Mark Calcavecchia

"He had the best imagination. The best short game. You never really knew where he was going to hit it.

"I think I played him twice in the Ryder Cup. I'm pretty sure I never beat him in a match. He was certainly awesome, and really very charismatic."

Ballesteros' former caddie Billy Foster

"He was an absolute gentleman, the ultimate warrior. There's not many players I've worked for in my time that have that aura about them.

"The passion and desire he showed will never be matched by any other sportsman, never mind any other golfer. I live in a nice house because of him and, because of everything else I've got, I hold him dear to my heart.

"He was the ultimate shotmaker. You can go on about the 87 titles and the five major championships he won but he'll always be remembered as the man who played shots no one else dared dream of."

Tennis world number one Rafael Nadal

"What he did in sport is unbelievable. He is irreplaceable... as a person and an athlete and was an example for all of us.

"He was an example for the whole of society, for all the athletes, all the kids.

"He was one of the best golfers of all time and one of the best athletes this country has produced. He was a pioneer."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

"Severiano was one of the finest golfers of all time and a legend in world sport.

"He was the mirror which Spanish athletes who have reached the pinnacle of world sport looked into.

"Severiano was loved and respected for his great charisma and strength, which he showed until the very end of his life."

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge

"Seve Ballesteros was a man of incredible skill, charisma and courage as a sportsman, and the dignified way that he fought [his illness] was characteristic of the man and was an inspiration to us all.

"He was a 'once in a generation athlete' in his sport, and his influence on the game will live long after him."

Chairman of the association of golf writers Bill Elliott

" His charisma, his appearance, the way he played golf, the sexiness he brought to the game - he transformed the game from something rather fuddy-duddy to something exciting that people wanted to watch."

Spanish golf federation president Gonzaga Escauriaza

"He was an icon - a unique, unrepeatable person. We have to recognize we are where we are now, that golf is a popular sport ... in large part to Severiano Ballesteros. We all owe him a lot."