GOLFERS and sports lovers the world over will be praying for the swift recovery of Seve Ballesteros.
The Spanish golfing legend was diagnosed with a brain tumour over the weekend, and now faces his biggest-ever challenge.
But Huddersfield-based PGA captain Parnell Reilly believes if anyone can overcome the dreadful disease then it’s Ballesteros.
“Obviously everyone is rooting for Seve who has been such a wonderful inspiration to so many golfers for so long,” said Reilly (inset).
“Sometimes massive challenges can be overcome by the power of the mind, and Seve really is one of those guys who can harness that power.
“I was fortunate enough to dine with him at the PGA Lunch in London last year. He was a VIP guest at the luncheon, and I got the chance to have half-an-hour’s discussion with him in a private room beforehand.
“He was just a delight to be with. He really shows an interest in people around him and rarely talks about himself and his own achievements. But then that’s the sort of guy he is.
“He has just been a tremendous inspiration for everyone on the Tour and for the future generations to follow.”
Ballesteros won the Open Championship three times and the Masters twice, in addition to being an inspirational player and captain for the European Ryder Cup team.
“Seve always had time for the younger, up-and-coming players, and was renowned for going over to them on the range and offering bits of advice here and there,” added Reilly. “He also had a massive influence on the Ryder Cup, and after Tony Jacklin had kick-started Europe’s revival, it was Seve who really carried it on and helped make it what it is today.
“Undeniably he has that special charisma that when he walks into a room he just stands out.
“It was the same when he played golf. Whenever I went to the Open, Seve’s group was always the one I wanted to see. And similarly at the Masters or US Open, his name was always the one you wanted to see up there on the leaderboard.
“We are now all hoping and praying that he can overcome this devastating disease.”
The 51-year-old Ballesteros was due to undergo a biopsy today in La Paz hospital in Madrid, where he is expected to stay for at least another week following his collapse at Madrid airport 10 days ago.
He issued a statement saying he was going to battle now with all the “ bravery, faith, serenity, confidence and mental strength” which he employed through his playing career.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Ballesteros became one of the biggest draws in the game, announcing his arrival in the ‘big time’ by finishing second in the Open Championship as a 19 year old.