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Nicklaus on Ballesteros

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Jack Nicklaus released the below statement Saturday on the death of Seve Ballesteros:

'Today, golf 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 flare he brought to the sport while achieving the success he did. 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.

He was a great entertainer. No matter the golf that particular day, you always knew you were going to be entertained. Seve’s enthusiasm was just unmatched by anybody I think that ever played the game.

Seve was able to create shots, invent shots, and play shots from anywhere. When he won at Royal Lytham in 1979, he played the 16th hole from a parking lot. I have watched him play 1-irons out of greenside bunkers, when just fooling around. He could get up-and-down out of a “garbage can.” He could do anything with a golf club and a golf ball. Seve learned how to take the shots and mentality he developed in a caddie yard as a young boy to a sophisticated golf course. He never changed himself; he only learned how to adapt his game to the golf course.

Seve was, without argument, a terrific player – his record speaks for itself – but more important was his influence on the game, especially throughout Europe. Through the years, his involvement with the Ryder Cup, as both a player and captain, served to further elevate the stature of the matches. He was probably the most passionate Ryder Cup player that we’ve ever had. I think his teammates always rallied around him and that passion of his. He was Europe’s emotional and spiritual leader, the heart and soul of their team. The Ryder Cup was something that was very, very special to Seve. And Seve was very special to us.

We can only imagine how difficult this battle has been for him and his family the last few years, but I know Seve faced it with the same grit, fight and spirit he approached his golf career. We had the opportunity to honor Seve at the Memorial Tournament last year, but it was truly all of us who were honored. Although he was unable to travel to Ohio, he sent a video that was simply terrific. It had humor; it had emotion; it had Seve’s touch. We can not honor and celebrate Seve enough, because he has meant so much to the game of golf and to all of us who love this sport. As I said, Seve was the heart of the Ryder Cup for decades. And speaking on behalf of my wife Barbara, today Seve and his family are very much in our hearts, on our minds, and in our prayers.'