Tony Jacklin became a British folk hero in 1969 at Royal Lytham when he became the first native player to win the British Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.
When he won the 1970 US Open, he was as big as The Beatles. The son of a trucker, Jacklin capped his Hall of Fame career by breathing new life into the Ryder Cup as a four-time European team captain (1983-1989).
Jacklin then moved to Florida, and while he rarely picks a suit these days, he still follows the game closely.
When recently asked by the New York Times if he would have considered a move to LIV Golf if the home course were an option back in the day, Jacklin had an interesting response.
“I probably would have listened to it, but I had everything I wanted in 1971. I was happily married. I had raised a family. I had a Rolls-Royce. They had nice houses. I never made money as a primary criteria,” Jacklin said. “I just wanted to be the best player in the world. I was smart enough to know that the money would follow if I did that.”
Jacklin has always been one to keep perspective. In an interview with Golfweek’s Adam Schupak in 2020, Jacklin was asked which Ryder Cup experience was more memorable, a 1985 win at the Brabazon Course of The Belfry in England or a 1987 follow-up win 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 was probably 1983 when we lost,” Jacklin said. “Allow me to explain to you. When I took the helm, so to speak, I changed a number of things. I wasn’t picked for the job until 6 months before. I had no captain’s picks and we only lost by one point. We had a team room, which we’ve never had before, and we leveled the playing field on travel and got the right kits out and all of that boosted the self-esteem of the players. We were very disappointed that we didn’t, but it was Seve who said: ‘Don’t be so sad. This is a victory for us. He was correct.
“That was a springboard to winning at home in 1985. It was fantastic, but the win in ’87 at Muirfield Village in Jack’s backyard (Nicklaus was the US captain) will always be the best. That broke the domain and validated the changes he had made.
“You have to understand that in the 1960s and 1970s we would show up and we wanted to win, but we didn’t have the confidence. We had the bravado but we didn’t really buy it. I came back after ’83 and reflected on how we could improve and decided we had done well and basically Europe has dominated ever since.”
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The story originally appeared on GolfWeek