I grew up idolising Seve. Watching him win the Open in 1979 is etched on my memory; his style, skill, courage and infectious extravagance overwhelmed his opponents that week, and would again and again during the 1980s – his victory at St Andrews in 1984 (pictured) the iconic moment of his career, but his final round 65 in 1988 to win for the third time was just as magnificent.
And none of this is to mention 2 Masters, Ryder Cups, over 50 European Tour victories, world No 1 for years and innumerable other achievements. He changed the face of European Golf in leading the way in taking on and beating the might of America.
His career was over all too quickly. He was undoubtedly a driven and difficult person. He was a fierce competitor and probably overstepped the mark on a few occasions.
But he always oozed dignity and class, in his painful career decline but also in his final physical decline as well. It was shocking to see the effects of the brain tumour, operations and chemotherapy on his body, making him almost unrecognisable.
His death at 54, more starkly than most given the intensity of his gifts, is a reminder of the fleeting and precious nature of life and how death in the end humbles us all.
Each of us will come face to face with God. Before him our greatest achievements will not count for much. The question is much more have we taken hold of his ‘greatest achievement’ – new creation life in the Spirit through faith in the risen Christ?
Seve’s tumultuous life is a reminder of how beautiful and marvellous a gift it is. He lived passionately, he gave others such joy not only in winning but in how he won (and lost) – always with style and grace, mixed in with unpredictable drama and brilliance.
I think this is why so many millions of people not only admired Seve, but loved him.
And can you think of many (any) figures in modern sport of which that can be said?