It has been quite a month for the WCGC’s Global Ambassador Tony Jacklin. The most successful Ryder Cup Captain in history and multi-major winner was honoured at the 12th Annual IAGTO Awards and then a few days later received the Lifetime Achievement award from the PGAs of Europe at its Annual Congress Gala Awards Dinner.
In a long and illustrious career, Jacklin has exemplified what European Professional golf is all about, known by some as the Arnold Palmer of Europe for his contributions to making the game what it is today. His class, style and elegance out on the golf course lead him to become something of a record-breaker throughout his career:
He was the first Briton to win on the PGA Tour;
The first British player in 18 years to win the Open Championship;
A year later he became the first Brit since Ted Ray in 1920 to win the US Open (The only U.S. Open victory by a European player in an 84-year span (1926–2009) until Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell ended that streak in 2010)
He was the first player since Ben Hogan to hold both the Open Championship and US Open trophies at the same time
Having accumulated a great number of tour victories and Ryder Cup victories as a player himself, he moved on to captaining Team Europe, narrowly losing in 1983, but capturing the first European victory in 28 years in 1985, followed by the first Team Europe win on American soil in 87, culminating with the first European retention of the trophy in 1989. He injected leadership that has resulted in the stunning European performances that have been seen in recent years.
Jacklin was instrumental in ensuring not only the Ryder Cup, in which his ‘demands’ for his teams created a new precedent within the matches and ensured Europe were on a level playing field with the United States from then on, but also that the perception of European golf in general was positive and boosted to what it has become today.
The 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award was given posthumously to Severiano Ballesteros, which was collected by his Seve’s brother, Vicente Ballesteros, at an incredibly emotional Congress dinner, and Jacklin took time to speak about his great friend during his acceptance speech:
“I first heard about Seve when travelling to the La Manga Club with Gary Player…we somehow came across Manuel Ballesteros, and he started to tell us about this brother he had who was incredible, and of course it was a couple of years on from there when he made that audacious chip on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale…and went on three years later from the car park to win his first Open Championship in ’79.”
“I remember saying to him [Seve] at that point ‘It’s a lot easier from the fairway Seve’. He said I didn’t understand, but I said I did ‘but it’s still easier to get it done’…they were great times and of course we were all saddened by his passing.”
On receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jacklin said: “I’m very pleased to accept this award from the PGAs of Europe, and I wish you continued success. I suppose the Ryder Cups in part were responsible for bringing you all together and I’m very grateful for that too.”