Tony Jacklin: A Ryder Cup Great
On July 6, 1944, in the industrial town of Scunthorpe, a future Ryder Cup hero was born – Tony Jacklin MBE.
What people didn’t know then is that the son of a truck driver would become the most successful British golfer of his generation and the most decorated European Ryder Cup captain to date.
It was 1969 when Jacklin picked up the first of his two Major victories, when he became the first Brit to win The Open in 18 years, at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Just a year later he would be picking up his second, and final, Major championship, with a seven stroke victory in the U.S. Open at Hazeltine.
Overall, the Englishman has 30 professional wins to his name, eight of which came on the European Tour, although a lot of these wins came prior to the European Tour era.
His record as a Ryder Cup captain is arguably even more impressive than his playing record.
Captaining Europe in four consecutive Ryder Cups between 1983 and 1989, Jacklin boasts an impressive 2 ½ - 1 ½ record.
When you add to that the fact he masterminded Europe’s first victory over the United States in 28 years (in 1985) and Europe’s first ever victory in the United States (in 1987), you truly realise why he is a European Ryder Cup legend.
His only loss as a captain came during his first stint as captain in 1983, however it did prove that Europe can compete with the Team USA as the score finished 14 ½ - 13 ½.
1989 would be Jacklin’s final appearance as captain, this time on home soil at The Belfry. He may be disappointed he wasn’t able to finish his prolonged captaincy with a win, as the Americans won the final four singles matches to salvage a draw.
Nonethless, Jacklin’s record as captain of Europe is yet to be matched and was arguably the turning point in Europe’s fortunes at The Ryder Cup.
His record as a player at The Ryder Cup is also impressive, when you consider it comes at a time of US dominance. You could say, with a record of 13 wins, 14 losses and eight halves, Jacklin had already left his mark in Ryder Cup history before becoming a captain.
The fact Jacklin said in 1975: "If we don't score more than nine points that's the Ryder Cup equivalent of a butt-kicking. If we win, then we ought to be knighted," shows just how dominate the US had been and what an achievement it was for him to turn Europe’s fortunes around.
Throughout his career Jacklin was breaking records, even such ones as making the first televised hole in one in Britain, on the 16th hole at Royal St. George’s, and at the close of his career, the British and European game was certainly in a better place.