Pedrena, world, prepare to bid Ballesteros goodbye

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PEDRENA, SPAIN (AP) - Seve Ballesteros’ funeral will be held in his hometown on Wednesday, bringing Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and other golf luminaries to the small Spanish fishing village to honor the five-time major winner.

Top-ranked Lee Westwood, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal also are expected to attend the service remembering Ballesteros, who died Saturday from complications of a cancerous brain tumor. He was 54.

Wednesday’s funeral will be held at the 400-capacity church of San Pedro de Pedrena. Ballesteros’ ashes will be placed underneath a magnolia tree in the family garden.

The golfing great first will be honored by several young boys and girls in a procession wearing a replica of the navy blue outfit that Ballesteros wore for his first British Open win in 1979. Fittingly, they will each 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.”

Three big screens have been set up outside the ceremony, while Spanish state TV will broadcast the event live from the village of 1,500.

Ballesteros was perhaps Spain’s first major sports star, helping to transform European golf by winning three British Open and two Masters titles plus a record 50 European Tour victories. He was also player-captain of the successful 1997 Ryder Cup team.

“He broke the mold,” former Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton said. “We were told to hit the fairway, not to make mistakes, while Seve taught us about the genius of recovery.

“He was a genius, an artist _ the first true golf artist.”

Many homes in Pedrena brandished Spanish flags with black ribbons attached. A small shrine could be seen outside the family home, where notes, candles, a pair of golf shoes and even a 3-iron were left as tributes.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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