MADRID (AP) — Golf great Seve Ballesteros announced the launch of a cancer foundation Thursday as he went before the press for the first time since undergoing brain tumor surgery nine months ago.
“I want to do my bit to battle this disease,” Ballesteros said at a reception in a Madrid hotel.
Elegantly dressed in suit and tie and giving the thumbs-up salute to photographers, a smiling Ballesteros thanked doctors at Madrid’s La Paz hospital and all those who supported him during his ordeal.
“Just nine months ago my life was hanging by a thread,” the 52-year-old Spaniard said.
“I am a lucky man, I have a second opportunity and my desire is to help others,” he said while presenting the Seve Ballesteros Foundation to help fight cancer.
Looking a little thinner but nonetheless in remarkably good shape and spirits, he was accompanied at the reception by two of the doctors that operated on him.
“I contributed my part through my strength as a sportsman, which is what they (the doctors) said, but if they had not been around I would not be with all of you today. So, many thanks,” he said to resounding applause.
Ballesteros won three British Opens and two Masters titles, and had 50 victories on the European Tour. He captained Europe’s Ryder Cup team to victory over the United States in 1997.
He underwent four operations on a malignant brain tumor between Oct. 6 and late December, when he was released from La Paz hospital. He subsequently underwent chemotherapy treatment.
He said his thoughts were with people going through traumas like his.
“My message is that there is no secret in life at all. All you must do is fight, fight, fight and be consistent and in the end you will be a winner,” he said. “In the end, you have to have luck and luck comes to those who fight.”
He said he is back to playing a little bit of golf and that recently one his sons, Javier, beat him.
“But I will beat him. I just need a bit of training,” he quipped.
Regarding his future, Ballesteros said he was going to dedicate his time to his children, the foundation and giving lectures but would also continue designing golf courses.
The Seve Ballesteros Foundation said it aimed to contribute to cancer research, particularly the treatment of brain tumors. It will also help young golfers with financial problems so that they can practice the sport that gave Ballesteros so much success.