Seve Ballesteros died in the early hours of today after a long battle with brain cancer. His family issued a communiqué yesterday evening explaining that his neurological condition had “suffered a severe deterioration”. Ballesteros was one of the world’s leading golfers from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s.

In October 2008 Ballesteros fainted at Madrid airport and was hospitalized. He confirmed that doctors had diagnosed a malignant tumor six days later. He then underwent a 12-hour operation to surgically remove the tumor. Surgeons said they managed to remove most of the tumor. He went on to have three more operations.

Later on in the same month doctors confirmed that his tumor was a cancerous oligoastrocytoma. On October 24, 2008 he had to undergo further surgery to try to resect (surgically remove) the rest of the tumor after his health had deteriorated rapidly. After a 6½-hour operation doctors confirmed the tumor had been removed.

On November 3, 2008, he initiated his rehabilitation in the ICU (intensive care unit) and was said to be breathing steadily. Two weeks later he was moved out of ICU. He left hospital on December 9, 2008.

At his home in northern Spain he underwent chemotherapy as an outpatient. According to a communiqué on his website, the chemotherapy had been effective.

In January 2009 he wrote:

“I am very motivated and working hard although I am aware that my recovery will be slow and therefore I need to be patient and have a lot of determination. For these reasons I am following strictly all the instructions that the doctors are giving me. Besides, the physiotherapists are doing a great job on me and I feel better every day.”

In February 2009 he completed another course of chemotherapy. He was encouraged by the results of the checkup, which he described as “..really positive, better even than the first ones.”

In March 2009 he completed a third round of chemotherapy, and then a fourth and final one a month later.

Ballesteros made his first public appearance in June 2009. He thanked everyone involved in caring for him and described his being alive as a “miracle”. He set up the Seve Ballesteros Foundation to help cancer research, especially brain tumors. The Foundation also helps young golfers who need financing to further their careers.

Since his death, tributes have been pouring in:

Jose Maria Olazabal (Spanish professional golfer):

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

Ernie Els said (South African professional golfer):

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

Nick Faldo (English professional golfer):

“Seve made a impact on me and on my
life in this sport.”

Tiger Woods (American professional golfer):

“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.”

Billy Foster (Ballesteros’ former caddie):

“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.”

Written by Christian Nordqvist