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Seve, a true golfing original

Odds are, the putt wasn't going to go in - too far right. But it kept turning left, closer to the hole, right near the edge - and then dropped, for birdie, on the final green of the final round of the 1984 Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, golf's ancestral home.

And a young Spaniard of 28 named Severiano Ballesteros, his greatest dream fulfilled, pumped his fist in joy. Then he did it again, to himself, to the fans, to the whole world. Maybe at no other time did golf mean more to any single person than it did to Seve in this, his finest hour.

The news that Ballesteros had lost his long and brave battle with brain cancer, way too soon at age 54, hurts to even type. Golf profoundly changed for the better because of Seve. The man from Pedrena, Spain made this game more European, more emotional, more adventurous - and much more fun to follow.

His roots mirrored those of Lee Trevino, just as self-made and just as improbable. All Seve had, for years as a child, was a hand-me-down three-iron from his older brother. So he went to the beach and practiced, conjuring up any kind of shot within the realm of fertile imagination.

Once he had the skill set, Seve had no time to waste. He turned pro at 17, nearly won the British Open at Birkdale at 19, did prevail at Lytham at 22 and at Augusta National just as he was turning 23. Dozens of more wins would follow.

Of course, it wasn't just the wins at a precocious age. It was the way he did it - slashing at the drive, finding it

wherever it may lay, slashing at the ball again - and so on until it found the hole, usually in fewer strokes than all his more conventional opponents. Fans could not help but watch - and marvel.

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