Tony Jacklin became a British folk hero in 1969 at Royal Lytham when he became the first Indigenous player to win the British Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.
By the time he won the 1970 US Open, he was as big as The Beatles. The son of a truck driver, Jacklin concluded his Hall of Fame career by reviving the Ryder Cup as four-time captain of the European team (1983-1989).
Jacklin later moved to Florida, and while he rarely picks up a club these days, he still follows the game closely.
When recently asked by the New York Times if he would have considered moving to LIV Golf if the startup circuit was an option in his day, Jacklin had an interesting answer.
“I probably would have listened, but I had everything I wanted in 1971. I was happily married. I had started a family. I had a Rolls Royce. I had nice houses. I’ve never made money as the main criterion,” Jacklin said. “I just wanted to be the best player in the world. I was smart enough to know that money would follow if I achieved that.
Jacklin has always been one to keep perspective. In a 2020 interview with Golfweek’s Adam Schupak, Jacklin was asked which Ryder Cup experience was most memorable: a 1985 victory at The Belfry’s Brabazon Course in England or a follow-up 1987 victory on American soil.
Former Ryder Cup captains Tony Jacklin of Europe and Jack Nicklaus of the United States speak during the 2016 Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony at Hazeltine National Golf Club on September 29, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
“It’s probably 1983 when we lost,” Jacklin said. “Allow me to explain. When I took over the helm, so to speak, I changed a number of things. They chose me for the job only six months earlier. I had no choices from the captain and we only lost by one point. We had a team room, which we’ve never had before, and leveled the playing field in terms of travel and provided the correct uniforms and it all boosted the self-esteem of the players. We were very disappointed that we couldn’t pull it off, but it was Seve who said, ‘Don’t be so sad. This is a victory for us.’ He was right.
“That was a springboard to winning on home soil in 1985. That was great, but the win in ’87 at Muirfield Village in Jack’s backyard (Nicklaus was U.S. captain) will always be the ultimate. That cracked the dominance and confirmed the changes I had made.
“You have to understand that in the 1960s and 1970s we showed up and wanted to win, but we didn’t have the confidence. We had the bravura but we didn’t really believe it. I went back after ’83 and thought about how we could improve and I decided we had done a good job, and basically Europe has dominated ever since.
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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek