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Ballesteros speaks of battle with tumor

SEVE Ballesteros has spoken publicly for the first time about his fight against a cancerous brain tumor.

The 51-year-old Ballesteros looked frail and thin in pictures published by Spanish sports daily Marca yesterday along with the golf great's first interview since he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in the right side of his brain nearly six months ago.

"This is the most important shot of my life. I'm fighting to win my sixth major," Marca quoted the five-time major winner as saying. "Life has given me a second chance."

Ballesteros was frequently overcome by emotion as he talked about his fight toward recovery. He began his fourth round of chemotherapy on Saturday after undergoing four separate surgeries.

"I'm not called Seve Ballesteros, I'm called Seve Mulligan because I've had the luck to be given a mulligan, which in golf is a second chance," he said. "I've been given the mulligan of my life. The proof is that I'm alive, that I can do things, that I speak, I'm perfectly able to reason.

"I've had a lot of luck, which is the truth."

Ballesteros fainted on an escalator at Madrid's International airport on October 5 and rebuffed airport staff wishes for him to seek medical attention before meeting his nephew Ivan, who took him to Madrid's La Paz hospital after he collapsed again.

Doctors confirmed

Ballesteros said he would never forget the moment doctors confirmed what the scans had discovered.

"They were clear with me, they told me: 'It's a tumor, the luck is that it's on the right side so we'll do a biopsy to see what it is,'" he said. "In that moment it hit me, the shock of it. You're well and suddenly they tell you this, can you imagine? I was going to eat (lunch) with my son."

Ballesteros said he remained upbeat most days, cracking jokes with staff and other patients and trying to keep his spirits up amid the surgeries, which all occurred within 15 days.

"The operation was perfect. The worst was the post-operations, which were difficult, very difficult! There were many inconveniences, and it's not that I had any pain. The pain ... was interior," Ballesteros said.

Ballesteros said he was deeply touched by the get-well cards and wishes he received from all over the world, which he numbered at 300,000.

"During all of these years I was always very centered on my work. I knew they admired me, what I didn't know is that the people loved me so much," Ballesteros said. "It's like you're living in a bad dream. But I know it's only a question of time."

Ballesteros won a record 50 times on the European tour. He also has three British Open trophies and two Masters titles, becoming the youngest winner at Augusta before Tiger Woods trumped his record.

"What I'm most proud about, if you ask me what my greatest victory was, is to have made golf a popular sport, as it is today, but in those moments it was badly looked upon and rejected by a large part of society."


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