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Consistency is the key at 'unusual' Royal Lytham

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Rob Hodgetts | 09:10 UK time, Monday, 16 July 2012

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.

Tony Jacklin celebrates his 1969 win

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.

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"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."


  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent Blog. Tony is a proper Legend of the game. and a lovely guy. A few of today's Pro's should take a leaf out of his book.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good that Tony remembered our conversation :)

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know what real insights Jacklin hs given us here other than the fact that Lytham is an unusual course.
    For example it's rare to see a Major start with a Par 3.
    Given that this is the type of course that is very different to what the American players are used it's interesting to note that they (Americans) have won here more than anyone else - 3 USA winners.
    I do agree with Jacklin about Westwood. I just hope he can sink a few more putts!!

  • Comment number 4.

    "You wouldn't call it a beautiful place"
    I love the way all commentators have struggled not to say outright that Royal Lytham's urban links must be the ugliest course in Christendom - particularly with the shabby state of the buildings at the furthest end of the course.

  • Comment number 5.

    Rob nice to see the blogs start early.jacklin probably does not get the recognition he deserves after all he won two majors and as said is seen as the man who finally made the European Ryder cup team what it is today. At times a bit like Faldo he gets a bit of bad press, though as someone who has been there and done it, it's strange ha does not get more media work.

  • Comment number 6.

    good blog, rob...interesting to read tj rates westwood's chances higher than donald's...not sure i agree...personally, i don't believe either of them has the mental fortitude required to bag a major on such a tough's no coincidence that seve [rip] won on this track for tiger, i wish he stop crying about how tough the rough is...there's a simple answer...don't go there!

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't think Westwood has the mental strength to win a major - you have to put well when the pressure is on and there are too many bad vibes - I would place Garcia in the same boat. If Donald gets into contention, he could figure, McIlroy will probably miss the cut because his mind appears all over the place. Although I have little time for him, Poulter may be a good bet and perhaps Oostuizon. Too much thick rough for Tiger

  • Comment number 8.

    alan...agree re westwood, garcia & rory...also agree re poulter [although the rough will make a mess of his pink trousers!] - as for oosthuizen, he's one of my 4 each-way bets along with mickelson, els and anders hansen - re tiger, i think he needs to win it on thursday/friday...if he's not in the mix by saturday morning, i don't fancy him...can't wait!

  • Comment number 9.

    2ik if you back everyone in the field you may get a return as it seems you have not left many out.

  • Comment number 10.

    2IK - Have you actually read the article Re: Woods and the rough at Lytham. He doesnt moan at all, for once i will defend Woods. Direct quote from the article "I like the layout. It's fair"

    I still dont like him though, and i dont doubt he'll do something obnixious in the fullness of time to raise my ire without criticisming him for saying something perfectly reasonable.

  • Comment number 11.

    The winner will be someone who keeps the ball in the fairway avoids the rough and the bunkers. Westwood should suit the course but last time out in France he was a bit wayward. If it comes to a last man standing type event then gmac has the heart to tough it out. After all he has been there and done it in the tough us open and came close again this year.

  • Comment number 12.

    davey...i've backed 4 runners each-way, that's all!...who are your picks?

    jimmy...wasn't referring to the article...was referring to him on sky news saying the rough was [in parts] unplayable

  • Comment number 13.

    Jimmy tiger tells it as he sees it jimmy he was asked a question gave an answer. Then as usual someone looks at it from a different angle and he is moaning. When whoever wins this week the course will have been a fair test its the typical media savy answer.

  • Comment number 14.

    2ik I have some players in mind but will commit after having a nose at the practice day tomorrow. One name I have already mentioned.

  • Comment number 15.

    He said its unplayable? I dont read that as a criticism as much as an assessment. If he then says that it shouldnt be that tough, or that it is wrong that its that tough then at that point it becomes a criticism. Of course I will concede that tone of voice, mannerisms etc can also indicate that he's having a moan and i havent seen that. However simply saying that its unplayable is not reason enough to criticise him for having a moan in my view

  • Comment number 16.

    jimmy...fair point...can't argue with that

    davey...please report back...i can still pick 2 more players...e/w pays out on the first 6!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Ok 2ik might be late as hang on I can do a daveyboy on the course with my phone as there allowed will put some pics on fb if you dare look!
    Early start as rors out early as is Sergio and luuuuke. The full first 2 day groups are out now and some great groups to follow the excitement builds.

  • Comment number 18.

    ok davey...thanks...will check out fb if i can remember how!...enjoy!

  • Comment number 19.

    With all due respect to the Golden Bear (good to see he's read this article ) there seem to be so many more good players these days, than back in the '60s when, realistically, only a handful had a real chance of winning. Looking through the pairings, the best from around the world are here and the compliment of amateurs and qualifiers makes for splendid competition. That Tony only won 4700 is quite astonishing and confirms just how far the game has come!

  • Comment number 20.

    I may be wrong but I don't think TJ won another tournament after his US Open triumph. 2 Majors is a good achievement but I think he'll be remembered more for his Ryder Cup exploits as Captain.

    I am hoping for an English / British / 1st time winner in that order. It looks like it may be a course for "accurate" golf which may preclude some of the "wunder kids".

  • Comment number 21.

    Tony Jacklin was a legend! 2 majors, 4 PGA, 8 European wins. An inspiration to the Faldo, Seve era. He transformed the Ryder Cup, played in 7 I think but was never on a winning team. Tied in 69 , and who will ever forget him and Jack on 18th at that year when JN conceded and they walked with arms around each other. Captained Europe 4times including first win for nearly 30 years then first ever win over the pongolfing Jacklin a true Hall of Famer

  • Comment number 22.

    2IK there's a certain Irish booky paying to 7 places

  • Comment number 23.

    Fascinating insight into the mental side of sport. As they say, whether you believe you can do something or you can't , you're right

  • Comment number 24.

    While winning 2 Majors is no mean feat, I think I’m right in saying he only had 6 top 10 finishes in Majors.
    Without doubt, Ryder Cup Captain was his finest achievement.
    In 1975 I actually hit a few golf balls with some of Jacklin's cast-off golf clubs.
    The chap who was teaching me my trade at the time knew the Jacklin family.
    He told me what a bighead Tony Jacklin was.
    I guess you can be when you have won a couple of the big ones.

  • Comment number 25.

    Tony Jacklin will always be remembered for his two major titles and his Ryder Cup captain exploits. I think he might be right that Donald may struggle and that Westwood has a good chance. Westwood will be right near the top if he can get on a roll with his putter. I think this could be another really open major championship and almost anyone could win. I think Padraig Harrington could have a good run and has been looking ominous recently.

  • Comment number 26.

    Would love to see a Brit, hopefully English, win this week. LW, JD, Rors Justin anyone would do. But ave to say that THE TIGER will not take a driver all week and win by 5.

  • Comment number 27.

    @17. Are we there yet dad.

  • Comment number 28.

    Its very wet out there and its not running. Greens a bit slower as well and as there not massive undulating greens will bring a few more into it. Re TW, part of the reason the rough so dense is the weather, if had been cut back it wouldn't have grown sufficient enough for an open, plus is it so wrong for a pro to be penalised if they drive off line that they have to chop out, plot yourself around man. It meant to be there as a deterrent and a place to avoid. reading pros tweets and they seem to like the layout and think the rough is penal but fair, so heres to a great week. I think this week it really is so open

  • Comment number 29.

    DCH71 our very own Ken on the course. Are some of the bunkers still flooded as seen on the beebs helicopter fly by.

  • Comment number 30.

    Somebody give Tiger some cheese with that whine. TW has never won a tournament that begins with a full moon. It seems even the solar system is against him winning a major again.

    Slightly off topic, but did anyone see one of the greatest ever bunker shots yesterday?? Zach's shot to 2ft needs seeing to be believed.

    Very surprised the new British Seniors US Open Champion, fails to get a mention on the BBC golf page. Take a bow Roger Chapman..

    Finally, for those subscribers to the Golf Channel.. The Feherty Show has an interview upcoming with the legendary P. Aliss. Should be good.

  • Comment number 31.

    @herrflickk....You now realise that you're becoming at best "tedious", you need to up your game and talk golf as opposed to "slagging" a "certain" player off!!!!!!!!!
    I wont hold my breath because you'll obviously claim that that shot was better than TW's at the Memorial (16th hole I think!!!!).

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Please point out which comment is not related to golf? Comments above mine refer to TW whining...But you choose to ignore those. How strange?

    Is it because i mentioned you were naive in believing the top players do not get paid appearance money?

    You are entitled to be a TW fanboy...I am not....No big deal Matt.

  • Comment number 34. sound like you got our own comments removed you silly person. Let's just pretend we don't see each others posts, because your stuff that you post is very boring..And I (for the record) did not see "YOUR" post that was removed...mash potato!!!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    50 shades....I think herrflickk needs to flick the beans!!??

  • Comment number 36.

    Great agreement fanboy....

  • Comment number 37.

    Do one critic....Go and tell us all who your favourite golfer is you pleb!!!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    A complaint - why is there no mention on either the BBC sport site or particularly the golf page of what Roger Chapman did in the US yesterday? Only the 4th person behind Nicklaus, Player and Irwin to win two Seniors majors in the same season. Fantastic effort but totally ignored at the expense of Tiger belly aching about the rough (so don't hit it there) and more endorsements for Westwood to win a major.
    Any comments?

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh well...Hair flick..At least we can settle on the fact that he's the "2nd" ( unreal that isn't it!!!!??) most successful golfer alive, good night & enjoy the beans!!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    @238....I agree, the best British golfer is not in the field this week!!??

  • Comment number 41.

    Got you on ignore faannboy....Can only see your name. I can see the various screen names popping up soon.......

    I just happened to suddenly come across this blog....blah blah etc.........And i must say TW need to be made a saint.....blah blah..........he's the greatest...........blah blah........No-one dare have an opinion on TW.........BLAH BLAH..........FIGJAM FIGJAM.........BLAH BLAH...................Here's another story about Phil though...blah blah figjam figjam......etc etc

    So predictable and boring fanboy....

  • Comment number 42.

    Some of the Lee Westwood bashing on here is a disgrace. He has probably been the best golfer in the world now for about 4 years. His time will come. Hopefully this week.

  • Comment number 43. seem to like mattefc? are you oldmanGriff?!

  • Comment number 44.

    Yeah mate..I love people that are really pedantic, and believe in freedom of speech.
    He must need a extension ladder to get down from his high horse each night, after his Oxford Union debating meetings.

    I've noticed his appetite for aggression is never satisfied. Chill out dude..!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Seems I logged off too early last night and missed all the lurve that was here. Do people really say " chill out dude"


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