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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Europe's greatest Ryder Cup star?
From left to right: Tony Jacklin, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie

Who is your greatest European Ryder Cup player?

SIX OF THE BEST

Colin Montgomerie has been crowned the BBC Sport website users' ultimate European Ryder Cup legend.

Throughout the 35th Ryder Cup we asked you to vote for your best player from one of six worthy contenders but the seven-time Cup veteran received 49% of the vote to beat Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros by a mile.

This year you have also crowned Jack Nicklaus as your king of the Masters and voted Tom Watson as your greatest Open champion.


Seve Ballesteros
By Rob Hodgetts

SEVE'S STORY
Seve Ballesteros
Born: 9/4/57, Spain
Ryder Cup appearances: 9 1979, 1983, 1985 (winners), 1987 (w), 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995 (w), 1997 (capt/w)
Ryder Cup record: Played 37, won 20, halved 5
Points scoring ratio: 54%

Seve Ballesteros was the focus of the European Ryder Cup team for two decades and one of the driving forces behind their rejuvenation.

The passionate Spaniard won three Opens and two Masters titles but his competitive fires burned brightest when facing a team of 12 Americans.

Ballesteros was a formidable matchplay exponent who never knew when he was beaten despite numerous divertions from the straight and narrow.

He won 20 matches and halved five out of a total of 37 but it was his 11 wins and two halves from 15 matches with countryman Jose Maria Olazabal that he will be best remembered for.

Ballesteros made his Ryder Cup debut at The Greenbrier in West Virginia in 1979, the first year the team was changed to Europe from Great Britain and Ireland.

It was an inauspicious start as he won just one match from five in the 17-11 thrashing Europe received.

By 1981, Seve Ballesteros was firmly established on the world stage but despite adding the 1980 Masters to his 1979 Open victory he was left out of the European team by captain John Jacobs.

TOP EUROPEAN POINTS SCORERS
25 Nick Faldo
24 Bernhard Langer
22.5 Seve Ballesteros
18.5 Colin Montgomerie
17.5 Jose Maria Olazabal
17 Tony Jacklin
16.5 Ian Woosnam

Ballesteros had been in dispute with the European Tour over appearance money and as a result played mostly in America.

The small number of European events he took part in had not yielded enough Ryder Cup points and his fate was left at the hands of a three-man committee of Neil Coles, Bernhard Langer and Jacobs to choose the final two players.

Seve was under consideration with Mark James, 11th on the list, Tony Jacklin (12th) and Peter Oosterhuis, who also played mainly in the US.

Much rumour accompanied the decision but it was Oosterhuis and James who were given the nod, prompting Ballesteros to announce that he would never play in the competition again.

But after much soul-searching and pleading he was carefully talked back into the fold for the 1983 event in Florida by the new captain, Jacklin.

Ballesteros went on to dominate the next five Ryder Cups, playing in all 25 matches, winning 16 and halving four.

Seve Ballesteros
Ballesteros won his beloved Ryder Cup as captain in 1997

In 1985 under Jacklin's guidance, the Americans were defeated for the first time since Great Britain and Ireland won at Lindrick in 1957, with Seve winning three-and-a-half points out of five.

Ballesteros last played in the event in 1995 before taking on the captaincy at Valderrama in 1997.

Seve was desperate to win on home turf and was a man possessed over the three days, zipping about in his golf buggy and popping up to offer his players advice on how best to play a certain shot.

His captaincy style was unique and not without its criticism but he certainly managed to convey his enthusiasm and belief in the task and Europe retained the Cup they had won back at Oak Hill in 1995.

Ballesteros was so enamoured with the Ryder Cup concept he instigated the Seve Trophy between Continental Europe and Great Britain and Ireland in 2000 and the event has gone from strength to strength.

And his legacy was all too obvious when European captain Sam Torrance took a call on his mobile amid frantic celebrations on the 18th green after the 2002 victory, announcing to the crowd, "It's Seve".




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