Forty-six years after he delivered the week of his golfing life, Englishman Tony Jacklin returns this week to Hazeltine National Golf Club and the Ryder Cup as well.
Jacklin and Hazeltine both have changed a bit since he won the 1970 U.S. Open by seven whopping strokes.
“I’ve got such great memories of this place,” said Jacklin, who followed a British Open victory the summer before by winning in Chaska for his second and final major. “They were kind enough to make me an honorary member out there, and it brings me kind of full circle in a way. So I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Now 72, Jacklin returned in 2012 for Hazeltine National’s 50th anniversary celebration, went back last year for a charity event and has donated the bag he used in 1970 to the club’s memorabilia collection. He’s coming back for the Ryder Cup to work the tents at a corporate outing.
“It’s obviously a different course than it was,” said Jacklin, who is playing with Colin Montgomerie in Thursday afternoon’s past captains match against the U.S. team., “but the ambience is still there.”
Jacklin played in seven Ryder Cups and was captain four consecutive times in the 1980s. He was front and center for one of its most famous moments when Jack Nicklaus controversially conceded him a 2-foot putt in 1969. That gesture ended the competition in a tie, but kept the Ryder Cup in the Americans’ possession.
But it was the U.S. Open victory that punctuated his career, on a sapling of a course that U.S. Open runner-up Dave Hill said only lacked “80 acres of corn and a few cows.”
“I never thought it was that,” Jacklin said. “I was just there to win a golf tournament and it turned out, looking back over my career, it was the best week of golf I ever played. It’s not very often you play a tournament, increase your lead every day and win by seven, especially in a major. I look back with the fondest of memories. I walked on water that week.”