Ernie Els writes: “It’s hard to put into words what Seve meant to everyone in golf and it’s impossible to measure his contribution to the game.
“Steve was such an iconic figure and really the flag bearer for European golf over many years. He opened up so many doors for Europe’s players by winning all over the world and particularly in America. It’s fair to say that the European Tour would not be what it is today without him.
Seve was my hero when I was growing up. I loved everything about him – the way he looked, the way he played the game, his passion and his fighting spirit.
“What a man!
“As the years went by I modelled so much of my game on him. So for me to then fulfill my dreams and be able to compete with Seve was a privilege.
“Our match in the 1994 World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth was perhaps my standout memory of the many times we played together.
“It was a great match, an unforgettable day and I felt honoured that I was able to share centre stage with him. He was a fierce competitor, a great winner and, on the days when his massive talent and big heart just weren’t quite good enough, a gracious loser, too.
“He was so kind and said some very nice things to me and to my dad that day at Wentworth back in 1994.
I was lucky enough to call Seve a great friend, but for anyone who loved golf and sport he was a great man, a proud man and a great champion. We will all miss Seve.
Ernie Els tribute to the great Seve Ballesteros