Tony Jacklin CBE
Born 7th July 1944 in Scunthorpe, Tony Jacklin turned professional in 1962. He won The Open in 1969, being the first British player to win the championship for 18 years. The following year he won the US Open, marking the first British win since 1925. Tony's successful career took him all over the world.
Tony will for ever be linked to the Ryder Cup. He played six times for Great Britain and Ireland and he was a member of the first European Ryder Cup team. Except for a tied match in 1969 when the USA retained the cup, Tony had only experienced being a member of the defeated team.
The tied match of 1969 at Royal Birkdale is most remembered for what is arguably the greatest sporting concession ever made. At the final hole of the final singles match Jack Nicklaus holed a putt of about four and a half feet. Tony had a putt of two feet. If he was to make the putt, the match would be tied; if he missed the putt, the USA would win the match. With the destiny of the Ryder Cup resting on this putt, it was certainly miss-able. Jack picked his ball out of the hole and immediately picked up Tony's ball marker. Jack's action denied the USA an outright win, and this was not popular with all of his team mates, however it was in the true spirit of Samuel Ryder!
For the first two European teams in 1979 and 1981, the situation stayed the same: the USA won each match.
Ken Schofield, who was the CEO of the European Tour at the time, approached Tony and asked if he would consider being the next European captain. Tony's acceptance was conditional. He required that the team would have the best clothing, fly first class, stay in the best hotels, take their wives and girlfriends and most importantly, they would have their own caddys. With the majority of the team being selected from the order of merit, the captain could choose three additional players. With these conditions accepted, a new era for Team Europe began.
As captain, Tony displayed exceptional man management skills, everything was put in place to ensure that the players had no worries. They were made to feel part of a team. However, there was one major problem: Severiano Ballesteros. Seve had not played in the 1981 match and such was the difference of opinion he had concerning appearance money, he declared that he would not play in The Ryder Cup again.
Recognising the importance of having Seve in the team, the two men met. Tony told Seve of the new structure and conditions that were in place and how the European chances would be improved with him in the team. After two weeks of reflection, Seve made himself available.
In the 1983 match at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, Europe came agonisingly close, losing by one point. All that could be done was to wait for 1985 at The Belfry, and for Europe, the wait was worth it. Europe's victory at The Belfry was followed by the first ever defeat of the USA on its home soil in 1987 at Muirfield Village Ohio. Tony would captain Europe for the last time in 1989. The match was drawn, the result of which meant Europe retained The Ryder Cup.
The part that Tony Jacklin played in turning European fortunes around can never be underestimated. It is within the period that he was captain that the foundations were laid for all the future European victories. The USA never again thought that all they had to do was turn up to win.
Tony was inducted into The World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.