A small fishing village to bid Ballesteros goodbye

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PEDRENA, SPAIN (AP) - This small Spanish fishing village will say goodbye to Seve Ballesteros, his final resting place under the magnolia tree in his backyard.

Many of golf’s luminaries _ Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance among them _ will be on hand Wednesday for the funeral of the man who won five majors and transformed the game in Europe.

Ballesteros died in his hometown Saturday at 54 of brain cancer. His ashes will be carried a few hundred yards from his home up the sloping road to the town parish. Big screens will be set up outside the ceremony for his fans. The day’s events will be broadcast live by Spanish state TV.

Pedrena has a population of only 1,500 people, but that will surely swell on Wednesday. The church of San Pedro de Pedrena is expected to be filled to capacity in honor of the golfer whose dazzling game inspired a generation of players.

Ballesteros was perhaps Spain’s first major international sports star. He won three British Open and two Masters titles plus a record 50 European Tour victories. He was a player-captain on the winning 1997 Ryder Cup team.

Nephew Ivan Ballesteros told The Associated Press on Tuesday that in addition to Faldo, Montgomerie and Torrance _ all former Ryder Cup captains _ top-ranked Lee Westwood is expected to attend.

Several young boys and girls will wear a replica of the navy blue outfit that Ballesteros wore for his first British Open win in 1979. Each will hold a 3-iron, the first club he used as a child.

“The funeral rites will be as simple as those for any neighbor from the village,” Ballesteros‘ brother, Baldomero, said. “He was born here and here he will remain.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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