Tony Jacklin – Golfing Icon of His Time

Tony Jacklin is recognized as one of the most successful English golfers of all time. He has won two major championships and twenty-five tournaments since he began playing professionally in 1962.

Jacklin won his first major Open Championship title in 1969 making him the first British player to win the championship since 1951. Eighteen years later, Nick Faldo became the second English player to win the Open Championship.

In addition to winning his first major Open Championship, Jacklin won his second major title at the 1970 U.S. Open held at the Hazeltine National Golf Club. He was the first English player to win the U.S. Open in 50 years. 

Personal Life

Tony Jacklin was born in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England on July 7th 1944. His father, Arthur David Jacklin was a truck driver and his mother, Doris Lillian Jacklin was a factory worker.  

Jacklin went to Henderson Avenue Primary School. He developed an interest in golf when he was just nine years old and became a professional golfer in 1962 at the age of 17.  

In 1966, Jacklin tied the knot with Vivien Jacklin. They had 3 children. Sadly, Vivien died of a brain haemorrhage in 1988.

During an interview in 2002, Tony said:   

You can’t understand the anguish of losing a spouse until it happens to you. After my first wife, Vivien, died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in 1988, I lost my will to live. I contemplated doing something very terrible to myself. Eventually I recovered, but a couple of years ago, I saw Arnold Palmer at Pebble Beach soon after he lost Winnie. His first words to me were, “I never knew what you went through.” I said, “How the hell could you?”

Jacklin married a second wife, Astrid Waagen in 1988. They have a son called Sean who plays on the European Challenge Tour.

Jacklin’s Golfing Career

Since turning pro in 1962, Jacklin enjoyed a long successful golfing career winning two major championships, 8 European tour tournaments, 2 PGA tour tournaments, 2 senior PGA tour tournaments and 15 other tournaments.

Tony Jacklin was one of the few English players that challenged Americans in the late 1970s. Before the founding of the European Tour, Jacklin had a total of 22 European tournament wins. He also won tournaments in Australasia, South Africa, South America and the United States.

Jacklin won the 1968 PGA tour at the Jacksonville Open Invitational becoming the first English player to win on the U.S. tour in over 40 years.

In 1969, he won his first major title at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes by 2 strokes. The following year, Jacklin won the U.S. open by 7 strokes becoming the first English player to win the U.S. Open.

In 1972, Jacklin played a major role in the founding of the European tour. He is also recognized for his participation in the Ryder Cup. The most memorable being the 1969 Open Championship when Jacklin secured a tie for the “Great Britain and Ireland” team after Jack Nicklaus conceded Jacklin’s 2-foot putt on the final hole, halving the match and the tournament ended in a tie. This became one of the most memorable Ryder Cup moments in golf history.

In 1972, after narrowly missing the Open Championship, Jacklin never competed in another major championship. However, he continued to play competitively in Europe.  

Jacklin has been a Ryder Cup captain four times and became a noteworthy captain. In 1985, he led his team to its first victory in 1985 at the Belfry Golf Club by a score of 16.5 -11.5. It was the first defeat the Americans had ever suffered in 28 years.

Jacklin’s great accomplishments earned him a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. He retired in 2004 at the age of 60. 

Other Career Highlights

1967: hits the first televised hole in one Britain.

1973: wins the Dunlop masters by 7 strokes.

1974: win the Scandinavian Enterprise Open by 11 strokes.

1979: wins Braun German Open by 2 strokes.

1995: wins the Senior PGA tour’s Franklin Quest Championship by 1 stroke.

2006: Opens the Concession Golf Club in Florida immortalising a great moment in golf history.

Memorable Quotes by Tony Jacklin

“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” – The Americans won 21 to 11.

One thing is certain, these matches are going to be as close as this from now on. There will be no more American walkovers” – Jacklin made the statement after the draw match at Palm Beach Gardens in 1983.

Winning the 1969 British Open and the 1970 U.S. Open was an asset to me as Ryder Cup captain. The players couldn’t look at me and say, “What the hell did this guy ever do?”

The state of Seve’s game cuts me deep. He proves my theory that if you didn’t take lessons as a child, you should avoid them as an adult.”

There’s no way I would have missed the two-footer Jack Nicklaus gave me for a tie in the 1969 Ryder Cup. But you’d better believe I sent him a thank-you note when it was over.”

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