Jacklin Puts British Golf Back on the Map
Britain had been without a home winner of the Open for 18 years when the world’s finest players arrived at Lytham for the 1969 championship. Max Faulkner, flamboyant dresser who often used a putter made from a piece of driftwood, had been the last British player to win the title, at Portrush in 1951.
Tony Jacklin was the bright new face of the British game. He had honed his skills on the ultra-competitive American circuit, gaining his first victory in the USA at Jacksonville a year earlier. After two rounds at Lytham he trailed left-handed New Zealander Bob Charles by three shots, but maintained his place among the leaders before taking the lead with a steady 70 in the third round.
Before setting out on the final afternoon Jacklin found a note pinned to his locker door. It had been left by American tour pro Bert Yancey, with whom Jacklin had struck up a close friendship. It said simply: “Tempo.” With that thought in mind his controlled final round of 72 was enough to hold Charles at bay, with Peter Thomson and Roberto de Vicenzo sharing third place ahead of Christy O’ Connor and Jack Nicklaus.
At the final hole, with diagonal lines of bunkers threatening the tee shot, Jacklin found the middle of the fairway and, with tempo written all over his swing, caressed a smooth seven-iron to the green.
His victory sparked a revival of interest in golf among youngsters throughout the country, launching a new generation of future champions in the game.