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THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP


July 16, 2012


Tony Jacklin


LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND

MIKE WOODCOCK:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Tony Jacklin has very kindly joined us this afternoon and is going to answer a few questions.  Tony, I think you're still the last Englishman to win an Open Championship here in England.  That's a pretty remarkable achievement.
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Yeah, I was surprised when I heard that.¬† There you are; records are made to be broken, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if that didn't end.¬† We've got as good a chance of that ending this year as we've had in any other year since I won, I think.¬† We've got a lot of first‑class players and high hopes for them.
MIKE WOODCOCK:  And there must be some great memories for you coming back to Lytham.
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Well, it's like a second home, really.¬† I mean, every time I come here, I feel very much at home.¬† I've been‑‑ it was my first Open Championship was played here in 1963.¬† I played nicely.¬† I won a tournament in the '60s, The Pringle tournament here, that didn't last long, but I remember winning it.¬† And then of course '69 goes without saying.¬† Great memories of this place.

Q.  What's your abiding memory coming down the stretch in '69?
TONY JACKLIN:  Being nervous.  I was never that nervous I don't think before, and I remember saying to Jack Nicklaus at the presentation, I didn't think I could be that nervous and play.  And he said, "I know, isn't it great."
That would be the overriding thing‑‑ now, even until the last shot was hit into 18, I hadn't won it.¬† I hadn't won it until Bob missed his putt and I rolled mine up to about an inch from the hole, and then I figured I could make that without any problem.
But I was‑‑ that was the whole thing, that I'd never been so nervous.¬† I mean, it was just the greatest achievement to that point in my life, and in front of a home crowd, there was a lot of responsibility.¬† Although the galleries throughout the week were very helpful.¬† I was on top of my game, and I think they were all glad to see me playing back here.¬† I felt, anyway, there was a lot of support.
But at the same time, there's a responsibility that goes with it.
But the overriding thing would be I'd never been that nervous before.

Q.  I wonder if you could share some thoughts on Americans playing in the British Open, and in particular why they seem to have done as well as they have given that presumably most of them don't have much experience on links courses.
TONY JACKLIN:  Well, some of them haven't.  There's a lot of American players who play in Texas and in the wind, and they know how to handle wind.  Florida even, you learn to handle wind.  There's tremendous strength and depth in America.  For those who have come before and played, the Tom Lehmans and the winners past here, David Duval, Tom, they're experienced links players.  You have terrific strength and depth, as I say.
Week in, week out‑‑ luck of the breaks with regard to the first two days and the weather certainly can be a factor, but they win because they're good. ¬†That's the bottom line.

Q.  What advice could you give to those trying to win it for a first time this week?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Well, I mean, I think on this golf course, this is a great driver's golf course.¬† If you don't drive the ball straight here, you've got no chance.¬† You've got to keep the ball in play off the tee.¬† And I think one of the keys beyond that would be you can't win it the first day but you can lose it.¬† I've always felt that getting off to a good start and being in the top ten or so after round 1 just gets you mentally engaged.¬† For the players that are capable of winning it, I think that's why they need to be.¬† You're hardly going to shoot a high first‑round score and get back in an event like this.
But this golf course off the tee, the bunkering is strategically placed and the bunkers are all essentially a red line around them.¬† I mean, they're a one‑shot penalty.¬† Getting the ball off the tee in play is paramount.¬† It used to be that the front nine was a key factor.¬† You know, you had to shoot 32 to 34 going out and hold on coming back.¬† From what I've read, I've only been in the country for five or six hours, I've read a few reports this morning, and apparently the front nine has been toughened up somewhat, so it's going to‑‑ well, I don't think it's going to change much other than it's going to put the scores up if that's been the case.¬† And of course the rough is clearly up.
But again, controlling your golf ball is going to be key.  I don't think distance is going to be a huge factor.

Q.  You said you had that feeling of responsibility to the crowds that wanted a British winner.  Obviously Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are probably our two best players who haven't won a major yet.  That would be an extra factor for them, as well, that feeling of trying to do it for the crowd as well as themselves?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Yeah, absolutely, and I think in their case especially it's important to get off to a good start, a steady start.¬† Lee I think of the two would be the one I would point towards.¬† He's a good driver of the ball.¬† His ball‑striking is fantastic.¬† Luke is a bit‑‑ if you look at his stats, his driver is not the straightest club.¬† He's not the straightest driver on the Tour.¬† Lee, this should suit him down to the ground, the conditions of the golf course and the way it's playing.
But you never know.¬† It's a nerve wracking thing, and I'm sure he would like to get off to‑‑ like I say, not spectacular but steady start, just be in there.¬† And it's a daunting task, but he's got all the experience in the world now, and he's surely up for it, but at 39 or whatever he is, the clock is ticking.¬† I keep my fingers crossed for him, because I think he really deserves‑‑ it would look terrific on his resum√©, Open Champion.

Q.  How do you think you would have fared on this golf course?  I think it's just over 7,000 yards.  How do you think you would have fared 40 years ago with the old equipment and the sort of game that you had then?
TONY JACKLIN:  What yardage did we play, do you know?

Q.  I can't say exactly.
TONY JACKLIN:¬† I don't think it was far off 7,000 yards, but I might be wrong.¬† It's just a whole‑‑ this whole question of how far the golf ball goes now has become‑‑ we played‑‑ during that week I had a 1‑iron in my bag, and I played every club that I had in my bag, a lot of 1‑iron and 2‑iron shots, second shots on par‑4s, a lot of 1‑irons off the tee to keep the ball in play.
The game has changed dramatically.¬† The ball is going so far, these guys don't hit many long irons, 4 and 5‑irons even.¬† They're hitting the ball so far, they're hitting more lofted clubs into greens than we did years ago.¬† The ball is going 40, 50 yards further than it did.¬† So that equates to the second shots as well as the driver.
For this course to play like it played in 1969, it would have to be 8,000 yards I would have thought.¬† But if you just think about the whole‑‑ the ball thing and where the‑‑ I was hitting a 2‑iron on No.1 every day, 3‑iron, whatever it was.¬† It was always that long with the old equipment.
The ball was the big difference, not so much the clubs and certainly not the irons, the driver.  But it's still about keeping it in play in major championships.  The way the courses get set up, whether it's USGA or R&A, they want to give the full examination, and the full examination is not about muscles, it's about controlling the golf ball, putting it in play.  And regardless of how many years between, it's always going to be the case.

Q.  Can I just get your reaction to Roger Chapman's win yesterday in the U.S. Senior Open?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† I texted him immediate‑‑ I knew before I left America last night, and I said I was delighted.¬† I played with him two weeks ago in Pittsburgh the first two rounds, and on the 17th hole‑‑ after the 16th hole of the second round, I took him to one side and I had a chat with him.
From what his wife said in a text back, that inspired him.  He is a most remarkable player right now.  I mean, quite simply, I just said to him, there's nobody over here that's any better than you are, and I meant that sincerely.  I know this game, and having watched him for two rounds, he's fantastic, playing within himself, he's a wonderful putter, steady head, terrific.
I was thrilled and delighted for him, and I texted him‑‑ well, my wife did, saying many congratulations, thrilled for him.

Q.¬† It was a remarkable achievement‑‑
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Well, two majors, it is a remarkable achievement.¬† It is extraordinary, this game, how somebody like Roger, who I suppose it wouldn't be unkind to say was somewhat of a journeyman throughout his early career, has blossomed in his senior years, he's terrific.¬† His ball‑striking and his demeanor on the golf course, I'm a great Chapman fan.

Q.  Getting back to the idea of Lee Westwood maybe winning his first major here, if he wins, I think he'd be the 16th different winner in a row of a major.  How do you feel about that in terms of what that does for golf, that kind of situation?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Well, it's hard.¬† The world turns and things change.¬† You know, back in the '60s and '70s when Jack was doing all his winning and competing and the Johnny Millers and the Palmers and Trevinos, you know, majors were so precious, we were all fighting for majors.¬† It was just something‑‑ they were so special.¬† I still believe they are special.
Maybe a lot of the other guys don't think that way.¬† You know, maybe‑‑ I don't know.¬† But it is an extraordinary‑‑ I think it happens from time to time like that, you know, just the run of things.¬† You might get somebody coming along and winning two or three in a row still again.¬† But I don't think it's relatively significant, really, in all truth.

Q.¬† You mentioned, you talked a lot about Lee, but you said at the beginning of your statements, in general you thought that the English‑‑ an English golfer maybe would have as good a chance as when you won.¬† Can you elaborate on that, why you think the chances are so good this time around?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Well, back in 1969, as far as I'm aware, I was the only‑‑ Peter Townsend and myself were the only players playing in America for a start, and Peter didn't manage to win anything over there.¬† Now we have a whole‑‑ you look at the World Rankings, I mean, it speaks for itself.¬† I mean, Luke Donald, capable of anything.¬† He's got to get in the mix in a major.¬† That's Luke's big thing now.¬† We see him play steady golf from week to week, but the experience the likes of Luke, Lee, we've got the fancy dresser lad, what's his name?

Q.  Poulter.
TONY JACKLIN:¬† Poulter, yeah.¬† I mean, he's showed his stuff in Ryder Cups, and he's won the World Matchplay thing, and we saw what he's made of in Ryder Cups, so he's made the right‑‑ he could well do well here, to say nothing of the lads from Northern Ireland, McDowell and McIlroy.¬† I'm sure McIlroy wants to try and redeem himself a little bit.¬† When I say that I don't mean it in an unkind way.¬† We had great expectations earlier this year at Augusta and the like and the U.S. Open and it didn't come to much for him, and he is a precocious talent.
This part in some respects is more fun than when it's nearly over because speculating on the different players' abilities is‑‑ they've all got a shout.¬† But I go back to that early statement when‑‑ that you can't win it the first round but you can surely lose it.¬† I know in my own case, if I had got off to a good start in a major, I was mentally engaged, and you're different then.¬† You behave differently.¬† Your approach is different, whether to do or not to do, take chances.¬† Your whole demeanor becomes different when you're engaged like that.
When you're in the pack, you‑‑ it's just a lottery, a crap shoot from there.¬† But when you've got a good round under your belt early on, then watch out, if you've got the mind for it and the temperament to win it.
And it's still, I suppose‑‑ although the question now, Nicklaus said to me, again, years ago, and I quote him again, he said, you always thought majors were the easiest ones to win because 95 percent of the guys didn't think they could do it.¬† I mean, they all turn up, but there's a lot of them that, given the chance and if they were in the lead with seven or eight holes to go, and you don't know until you try it, until you test it, so it's fascinating.¬† That's why we watch.

Q.  Am I correct in seeing you're making a comeback next week at the Senior Open?
TONY JACKLIN:¬† A comeback, huh?¬† I'm past my sell‑by date playing.¬† But I'm over here for the British Par‑3.¬† I've hosted that for the last three years, in Warwickshire in early August, and we had this sort of spare week next week.¬† I looked at it, and I thought, Turnberry, and why not?¬† Links golf, you never know what you're going to get, and I sure as hell never know what I am going to get when I walk on a golf course these days.¬† I'm disappointed most of the time.
But I'm going to play and see what happens.

Q.  Was it Turnberry in particular that had a draw in you?
TONY JACKLIN:  Well, it was a week with nothing to do.  We were going to go over to Norway and mess about, and rather than do that, I thought why not go back to Turnberry.  It's a favourite place.  I've done a lot of things there over the years, corporate, and spent a lot of time there.  I like it.
And then I saw Gary has entered, as well, Gary Player has entered, and I thought for a while I might be the oldest in the field.¬† But I'm glad to see Gary is going to be playing.¬† You know, what the hell.¬† But it'll definitely be my last hurrah.¬† I will not be performing on golf courses with my‑‑ anyway, with my crutch as a putter and all of that.¬† We won't go there.

Q.¬† The fancy dresser lad, as you just referred to him, Ian Poulter, he wrote on his Twitter feed earlier that he needs to pack his snorkel for this week.¬† I was just wondering whether you've had the chance to see the course and whether you think or whether you go along with some of the comments that the course is unplayable in parts and that the rough is‑‑
TONY JACKLIN:¬†¬†¬† Somebody is going to win, I'll tell you that.¬† No matter how unplayable it is, somebody will win.¬† You really don't get the guys who are in with a shout complaining about conditions of golf courses.¬† I mean, I remember Hazeltine, they all said it was‑‑ Dave Hill said it was a could you pasture and all it needed was a dozen cows and a couple of tractors there or whatever.
Golf courses are to be played, and I go back again to, they've all got used to this golf ball going as far as it does, but you cannot get out of the fact that it's controlling the golf ball that wins you major championships, and that's the examination.
And as tough as this is, and the wind will make it tougher, we know how high the rough is, the rough was high at Muirfield in 1966 when Nicklaus won.¬† They had two stewards on the left and right of every hole going, it's in there somewhere if you went off the fairway, and that's when Nicklaus drove with a 1‑iron all week.¬† Tiger won at Hoylake with a 1‑iron all week.¬† Somebody is going to do it.¬† Somebody will figure it out and get it done.
It's just getting your head 'round it and getting on with it.  Winging won't get it.

Q.  What did you say to Roger Chapman?  You've left it in the air?  You took him off to one side and said?
TONY JACKLIN:    I said to him, "Roger, there is no better player out here than you."  A lot of these American guys are full of themselves and they've got all this confidence, and they play on that.  And I meant it sincerely, and I do mean it sincerely.  I said, "you have a window of opportunity to make yourself millions and millions of dollars.  Good luck to you with it."
And then we sent the message last night before he left America congratulating him and how over the moon we were, and we got a message back that apparently he was inspired by that, which was nice.
So me playing in that tournament in Pittsburgh in 95, 97 degrees, whatever it was, and having to walk around four times and shooting an average of 80 each round was very much worthwhile as far as I'm concerned if it did the trick for Roger.
MIKE WOODCOCK:  Thanks very much, Tony.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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