Consistency is the key at 'unusual' Royal Lytham
English major winners are rarer than a glorious British summer these days: winners of the Open Championship are even more scarce.
It is now 20 years since Nick Faldo finished his burst of three Open titles. Before the first, in 1987, you have to go back another 18 years, to Tony Jacklin in 1969.
To some, Jacklin will be remembered as the man who helped change the face of the Ryder Cup, captaining four European sides. To others, such as Faldo's generation, he was their early inspiration in the game.
The first of Jacklin's two major titles - he also won the US Open in 1970 - came at Royal Lytham and St Annes, the venue for this week's Open Championship.
Before his win on the Fylde coast, no Englishman - or European for that matter - had won the Open since Max Faulkner triumphed at Royal Portrush in 1951.
Jacklin went on to win the US Open a year after his Royal Lytham triumph. Photo: Getty
And the big topic among the home crowd this week will be whether any other Englishmen, and specifically world number one Luke Donald or third-ranked Lee Westwood, can finally break their major duck. Not much has changed, then.
Back in '69, Jacklin, the son of a Scunthorpe lorry driver, was based full-time in the US and had clinched his breakthrough victory on the PGA Tour at Jacksonville in Florida the previous year.
"I got tremendous support from the British fans," Jacklin said. "In the US I was just another tour player. It was Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus who got all the attention.
"I was at a point in life where I was 25, I'd been playing full-time tournament golf since I was 19, I'd been around the world a few times, I was strong, full of vim and confidence and thought I was immortal like a lot do when they're in their early 20s - it was a good time for me.
"I was strong in mind and body. I just knew the key was maintaining my emotional balance and not rushing."
Jacklin had qualified for the Open at Lytham in 1963 - a year after turning pro - and finished 30th and won the Pringle Tournament there in 1967.
"I really liked it," he said. "Lytham is a very unusual golf course.
"First of all, although it's a links, you don't see the sea. You wouldn't call it a beautiful place - it is surrounded by these red brick houses and a railway trundles through it. You have to make your score on the front nine because the back nine gives you nothing. It is a supreme test and one of my favourite spots, certainly."
Amid a typically blustery Open week, and on colour TV for the first time, Jacklin carded rounds of 68, 70 and 70 to lead by two shots over New Zealander Bob Charles and Ireland's Christy O'Connor Sr going into the final day.
"I got off to a reasonable start and had terrific support from the local galleries as the week went on," he said. "I got more nervous but that's what it's all about, being able to control your emotions. There was a lot of pressure on me in the last round and I was acutely aware of it.
"I vividly remember my mind wanting to wander ahead to what will be happening half an hour from now and giving myself a mental smack in the cheek saying 'that's not your business and get on with the next shot'."
On the 18th tee, Jacklin, in light blue drainpipes and matching sweater, held a two-shot lead over left-hander Charles, who had won the Open at Lytham in 1963.
"It's a very, very demanding drive, the 18th at Lytham," said Jacklin. "There is no way to play safe. There are bunkers crossing the fairway - I couldn't get over if I'd played an iron, you just have to hit a damn good drive.
"I went through that whole mental thing - just thinking 'wide and smooth' as I teed the ball up. Then as I looked up, the ball was flying straight as an arrow down the centre of the fairway. Once that drive was taken care of, I was very close to home."
Jacklin nearly lost his shoe in the stampede to follow the players up the last, but he recovered it, and his composure, to make his par for a final-round 72 to beat Charles by two and earn a cheque for £4,250.
"I remember saying to Nicklaus afterwards 'I never thought I could be that nervous and still play and he said 'I know, isn't it great?'," said Jacklin.
"The British fans were ready. A lot of people make the pilgrimage to see the Open and, of course, Max won over in Northern Ireland, so it was a big deal and a lot of people were very happy, including myself."
The 68-year-old Jacklin, who says modern golf balls travel 20% too far, to the detriment of the game, also remains the last Englishman to clinch the US Open.
He is surprised there haven't been more English major winners over the years, but believes the consistent Westwood can triumph at Lytham if he doesn't try to force it and his putter is on song. Donald, he says, might not be particularly suited to the variable bounces and shot-making required on a testing links.
"Is it determination? Good fortune? I don't know," said Jacklin, who revealed no-one has tapped him up for advice (not that he minds).
"It's all about emotion. It's all mental. They can all play, they're more than capable. It's getting your mind engaged, getting off to a fast start and how you control yourself coming down the stretch.
"I'm a great believer you have to put it in your head you can do it early in your life. Nicklaus said to me many times that 95% don't believe in their hearts they can do it. He always thought majors were the easiest to win.
"Lee Westwood is more than capable of getting it done, but the fact is if you're there often enough you should be figuring it out.
"But it's one thing to go in there with your golf game under control and a perfect mental approach. It still doesn't mean you're going to win. You've got players coming from all over the planet trying to stop you.
"The way Darren Clarke won last year was fantastic. He played through that weather and maintained his composure. It just showed the kind of emotions and the battering you take to win."