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Seve Ballesteros retires from golf

Five-times major winner Seve Ballesteros announced his retirement from golf on Monday, ending one of the most glittering careers in the modern game.

The Spaniard, who won the British Open three times and the U.S. Masters twice, told a news conference at Carnoustie: "This has been the most difficult decision of my life."

An emotional Ballesteros, 50, who underwent hospital tests recently over a minor heart scare, said he had made up his mind only after a failed attempt to play on the U.S. seniors tour this year.

"For several months there was something confusing inside. It was an internal fight -- my head said I should retire. I kept saying that over and over," he said.

"My heart kept telling me it would be better to keep playing and compete. So it was difficult for quite a while.

"Finally, I decided to go to try on the Champions Tour (the seniors tour in the U.S.).

"So I went there and played one tournament and then I came back. That really made me think...I should retire."

He continued: "I don't have the desire any longer. I have worked very hard from morning to night and put all my energy and effort into the game, focused 100 percent and I felt that was enough.

"I have a number of good years left and I'd rather spend time now with my three children and my companies and friends."

Ballesteros said he chose Carnoustie to make the announcement because he made his British Open debut there 32 years ago.

He became the most successful and charismatic player in the world at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s and helped to foster Europe's current pre-eminence in the Ryder Cup after years of American dominance.

Five-times British Open winner Peter Thomson of Australia paid tribute to Ballesteros as "one of the two most naturally gifted golfers I have ever seen along with Sam Snead".

"I would say that he was the most gifted young player I have come across -- his exploits bore that out."



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