MADRID (AP) — Seve Ballesteros is dreaming of opening up a golf course near his home in northern Spain as he fights his way back to normality following a lengthy battle with a cancerous brain tumor.
“My first hope is to get back to normal,” Ballesteros said in the second part of an interview with Spanish sport daily Marca published Wednesday. “After that, a course in Santander. That has been my dream for a long time.”
The interview is the first Ballesteros has given since he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on the right side of his brain nearly six months ago. In the first part published Tuesday, Ballesteros called his battle against cancer “the most important shot of my life” and said he was “fighting to win my sixth major.”
In the second part, Ballesteros reflected on his life as a golfer and talked about his interest in other sports and athletes.
“I have always considered myself to be more of an artist than a player,” said Ballesteros, who looked frail and thin in photos accompanying the two articles. “I think I can say that I have done some very special things on the course, things that even today, I don’t think any player has done.”
Aside from golf, Ballesteros said he is an avid cycling fan and a big admirer of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner and fellow cancer survivor.
“He’s my cycling idol,” Ballesteros said. “Naturally, I’ve always liked Miguel Indurain, and Carlos Sastre…. I’m a fan of all the Spaniards, but Lance has a very special story.”
He also expressed a love for football club Barcelona and its young Argentine star Lionel Messi.
“Messi! He’s my idol and I also like Bojan (Krkic),” he said. “If I were to tell the truth, in Barca, I would highlight them all. Player after player, they’re so good.”
Rafael Nadal also received special praise – even though the top-ranked tennis player apparently owes Ballesteros a dinner over a lost golf bet.
“He owes me a dinner and he still hasn’t paid me,” Ballesteros said, laughing. “He lost against me playing golf some months ago, just before he became the world No. 1.”
Ballesteros said the two used to play golf frequently, and called Nadal Spain’s biggest role model in sports.
“He’s a phenomenon, he’s a fantastic reference point on and off the courts,” Ballesteros said. “He’s the best we have as an ambassador of sports for all kids.”
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 National in 1983 before Tiger Woods trumped his record 14 years later.
He had a 20-12-5 record in eight appearances at the Ryder Cup and was European captain for the victory in 1997, 18 years after he forced the competition to expand to include continental Europe.
Now on a diet consisting of only fish and vegetables, Ballesteros told Marca he has lost 33 pounds since being admitted to the hospital. He now weighs 165 pounds – the same as when he won his first Masters at age 23.