Dick Harmon: We can all take lesssons from Ballesteros

Published: Monday, May 9 2011 2:51 p.m. MDT

In this Sept. 28, 1997 file photo, European Ryder Cup team captain Seve Ballesteros holds the trophy in the rain after Europe beat the United States to win the Ryder Cup at Valderrama golf course in southern Spain. Ballesteros died, early Saturday May 7, 2011 according to a statement on his website. The 54-year-old Spanish golf great had been resting at his home in Pedrena, northern Spain, where he has mostly been since undergoing four operations to remove a brain tumor in late 2008.

Dave Martin, File, Associated Press

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You don't have to love golf to feel the loss of one of its greatest stars.

We lost Spaniard Seve Ballesteros Saturday to cancer. The European who pioneered the game in America for players on that side of the pond was only 54.

His death reminds us of our own vulnerability. His story helps celebrate the spontaneity for life we all should have.

Here is a collection of some of the best quotes about Ballesteros from the Golf Channel and ESPN:

"The biggest highlight of his personality was his strength, his fighting spirit and his passion for everything he did. The best homage we can pay him is to continue playing, but I don't think any of the homages we make will ever be sufficient enough after everything he's done for golf." — Jose Maria Olazabal

"Seve was Arnie with an accent. A conquistador in green pants. He was tan and handsome and raw. Emotion poured from his fingernails. He had so many urgent facial expressions, you'd have thought he was on trial." — Rick Reilly, ESPN

"The thing that really stands out about him is his determination and his passion for everything that he did. He never gave up and always looked for (the shot) or way out, and that reflected his personality." — Miguel Angel Jimenez

"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." — Jack Nicklaus

"His dynamic talent was evident from the time he first arrived on the scene, and I always invited him to play in my tournament at Bay Hill. He was probably the main man, the greatest contributor to the European golf scene and to the Ryder Cup when they brought all of Europe into the matches. He will be sorely missed throughout the world of golf." — Arnold Palmer

"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." — Bernard Gallacher

"I think his body language was the strongest of anybody, maybe save Tiger in recent years. I've always said that his body language said, 'Hey, I may have hit a really crappy shot right there, but if you miss this next one, you'll miss the greatest shot ever hit.' That's just the way he walked, the way he acted, the way he carried himself. He never seemed to ever doubt his ability." — Tom Lehman

"There were very few players who you could simply call by a name. He was one of those guys. He was a name all around the world. His skills were maybe unmatched by anybody." — Hale Irwin

"Seve wore his emotions on his sleeve. You could see how much the guy cared about winning." — Johnny Miller

"Too often analogies to other athletes and stars seem far-reaching when a sport loses one of its own, but it is impossible to overstate Seve's impact upon golf in Europe specifically, and around the globe peripherally. His animated style commanded your attention. He was a walking verb. He got into trouble spectacularly and out of it magically, with a big, wide swing that caused his left shoulder to go way down and around, and his right shoulder seemed impossibly displaced from where it had been at address. His legs bowed, turned, squatted and exploded with an athleticism that was as alien to the game as anything the sport had ever seen." — Brandel Chamblee

The loss of Ballesteros is a reminder to everyone who loves golf, or anything for that matter, that we are capable of wringing out the last drop of joy from anything we do if we have the passion and right outlook.

Seve finally got in a bunker he couldn't swing out of, but he never stopped trying.

I'd say the weekend loss of this star is a good opportunity for Tiger Woods, who had been at the top of the sport until he stumbled in his personal life, to plug back in to the vigor, fire, spirit and animation that Seve brought to the game. He should watch some Seve highlights before teeing off this weekend.

It would do Tiger good to return to that raw element of fun.

It would do us all well to apply that same lesson in anything we try: Never give up on a bad shot and turn the bad or disastrous into a better outcome than the world expects of us.

Hasta luego, Spaniard.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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