Five-time Major winning golfer, Seve Ballesteros has died of cancer at the age of 54. The legendary Spaniard had been fighting a long and painful battle with cancer after being diagnosed with two malignant brain tumours in 2008.

Ballesteros was admitted to hospital in his hometown of Pedrena on Wednesday as his condition deteriorated. With his family by his side, he passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A statement on Seve’s website says: “The Ballesteros family is very grateful for all the support and gestures of love that have been received since Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 5th October 2008 at Madrid Hospital la Paz. At this time the family asks for respect and privacy at such a painful time. Thank you very much.”

News of Ballesteros’s condition had reached the European Tour, which is currently staging the Spanish Open. Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez, both close friends of Seve, were struggling to contain their emotions. After completing his round on Friday, Olazabal told the media: “I can’t talk. I can only wait and cry.”

Ballesteros became the first European to win the Masters when he picked up the first of two Green Jackets in 1980. With three Open Championship titles to his name, Seve’s achievements on the course make him one of the most successful players of the modern era.

However, it was the style with which he played that carried him into the hearts of golf fans around the world. With a unique imagination and unfettered passion, Seve sparked life into the game at the highest level, inspiring a generation of young sportsmen to choose golf.

Seve pictures: Iconic Seve images