Spanish golf legend Seve Ballesteros has died after losing his two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
The 54-year-old passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Pedreña (Cantabria) in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Ballesteros was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 after losing consciousness at Madrid Airport. The five-time major winner had four operations to remove the tumour as well as undergoing chemotherapy.
In a statement, the Ballesteros family expressed gratitude for the "support and gestures of love" it had received and asked for "respect and privacy at such a painful time."
Ballesteros, who claimed 87 titles over his career, won the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and became the first European to win the Augusta Masters in 1980, repeating the feat in 1983.
He also enjoyed a successful Ryder Cup career as both player and captain. But it was his daring and flamboyant style that made Ballesteros special, transforming the image of golf and bringing a whole new audience to the sport.
Tennis star Rafael Nadal described Ballesteros as a "reference point" for Spanish athletes. "He's one of the greats of this country without a doubt," he said.
Ballesteros appeared in public for the first time following the surgery in May 2009 when he went to watch his local football team Racing Santander and was given a standing ovation. Weeks later he was present at the Armed Forces Day in Santander, where he met King Juan Carlos who praised his attitude towards his illness saying: "You are an example, Severiano".
He had called his battle against the tumour the "hardest challenge of my life."