Tony Jacklin saved the Ryder Cup, and not just for Team Europe

BRADENTON, Fla. -- His life in golf has seen him hailed as a hero in Great Britain for winning two major championships, a grieving widower in the midst of a game-changing run as Ryder Cup captain, the subject of tabloid fodder, a competitor again as a senior golfer and now an elder statesman who has settled into a quiet community on the west coast of Florida.

Tony Jacklin, 72, lives off the 14th fairway at Bradenton Golf Club, where his golf is sporadic these days although the charging electric golf cart in his garage says he's never too far away from the game that made him famous.

Near the golf clubs is a makeshift studio where Jacklin has taken to a hobby he very much enjoys, one that sees him painstakingly trace images of subjects he draws, most from the world of golf. Included in his collection, for example, is a picture of Davis Love III and Darren Clarke, the captains of the respective Ryder Cup teams this week at Hazeltine National in Minnesota -- where, incidentally, Jacklin won the 1970 U.S. Open.

Such artwork takes planning and precision, not to mention tinkering and time. Not that such qualities suddenly came to Jacklin later in life. They served him well all those years ago when he helped change the Ryder Cup from a sleepy affair dominated by the United States, barely a blip on golf's radar, to one of the biggest events in sports.

Since Jacklin's first captaincy in 1983, Europe has gone 10-5-1, turning what had been an annual American romp into a fierce competition that often comes down to the final day, the final match, the final hole. Jacklin led Europe on four occasions, going 2-1-1, winning for the first time in 28 years, winning for the first time on American soil, and forging a tie in his last attempt -- which meant Europe kept the Cup and Jacklin again walked away triumphant.

It has been an amazing run that continues now as Europe seeks a fourth straight victory in the competition, something that would not have been fathomable in Jacklin's time as a player.

"There's a coming together when it comes to the Ryder Cup,'' Jacklin said recently at his Florida home. "It's extraordinary the team unity that gets created. I suppose the irony is they all strive to play in America and get on the American (PGA) Tour where everything is so great, where you have this standard of excellence across the board.

"It's everyone's target to play where the best are, and America it is. It's that excellence in some ways that spurred me and someone like Seve [Ballesteros]. We had been poor, and the singular thing that runs through you is just because they've got everything, it doesn't mean to say they are the best.

"Given the proper and level playing field, it doesn't matter where you're from. America doesn't have a stranglehold on ambition."

With all that in mind, it is not a stretch to say that Tony Jacklin saved the Ryder Cup.

Great Britain's golf hero

Jacklin was born in the English town of Scunthorpe and one of the lasting memories of his youth was attending the 1957 Ryder Cup at Lindrick Golf Club, where the Great Britain & Ireland team defeated the United States, 7½ to 4½, the first U.S. defeat since 1933.

Getting to see the great golfers of the day in an era of no televised golf was a big deal to Jacklin, who five years later at age 18 turned professional and set about his own golf journey.

For a time, that meant working in the pro shop, and one of Jacklin's first jobs was at Potters Bar Golf Club near London. It is where he met a man named Marshall Bellow who would become a lifetime friend and happened to be Jacklin's host when he was first offered the Ryder Cup captaincy nearly two decades later.

"I went into the pro shop when I first became a member and I had a conversation with this lad,'' Bellow, now 81, recalled. "It was Tony Jacklin; that is how I first met him. He was a kid in the shop, a lot of personality, full of himself. There was something special about him. You couldn't help but like him. No one ever taught him how to make a speech or to be a leader. He just had it in him. He did it all by himself.''

Jacklin would become the rare foreign golfer to play events on what is now known as the PGA Tour. Not since the 1940s had British golfers come to America with the purpose of making it here, but Jacklin wanted to play against the best. It is how he became friendly with the likes of Jack Nicklaus and other American stars. He felt welcomed by them.

Playing full time in America, Jacklin won twice at PGA Tour stops in Jacksonville, Florida, and the 1970 U.S. Open at Hazeltine National -- the only victory by a European player at the tournament between 1929 and 2009. He also won the 1969 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's -- where he became the first British player to win the tournament in 18 years. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1970. (And the C.B.E., Commander of the British Empire, in 1990.)

Jacklin won 27 times as a professional, including eight times on the European Tour, which wasn't formed until 1972. Along the way, he played in 48 major championships, posting 17 top-25 finishes. And he played the Ryder Cup seven times, never on a winning team but still posting a very respectable individual record of 13-14-8 from 1967 through 1979.

His major titles made him a revered figure at home and he enjoyed the spoils of success, building a mansion in the Cotswolds and driving a Rolls-Royce. Super agent Mark McCormack of International Management Group provided plenty of opportunities off the course, and Great Britain latched onto its latest sports icon.

"He was a hero in those days,'' Bellow said. "He was a very fine young man, just special. There was just something about him. He was a celebrity who went from being ordinary to being The Open champion in a country craving and desperate for an Open champion. All of a sudden his life changed and at times it was hard to cope with.

"He was an enthusiastic golfer who had a great week and now his face is all over the world. He's playing in America. He's buying houses. It's a classic story of a local bloke who comes from nowhere.''

At his second Ryder Cup as a player, Jacklin went 4-0-2 in 1969, when the match ended in a 16-16 tie. Two of those four victories were against Nicklaus, including the first Sunday singles encounter that preceded the famous "Concession.'' It was the first time Jacklin's side had not lost since 1957.

Facing a 2-footer for par on the 18th green -- after Nicklaus had made a par putt from 4½ feet -- to tie both their match and the Ryder Cup, Jacklin saw Nicklaus reach over, pick up the coin that was marking the British golfer's ball, and concede the putt. The gesture meant the Nicklaus-Jacklin match was tied, as was the overall Ryder Cup match, meaning the United States retained the Cup.

"God only knows what he must have been thinking,'' Jacklin said. "All of a sudden, he's got a 4½-footer to make (after running a birdie putt past the hole), and if he misses, his team loses the match. And then, in a split second he holes the putt and he's picking his ball out of the hole, and he picks my marker up at the same time. So he's run it all through his mind. He must have. But it was a spontaneous gesture.''

Nicklaus knew what a revered figure Jacklin was in his homeland (the event was played at Royal Birkdale in England) and said he expected Jacklin would make the putt -- but didn't want to take the chance that he might miss it.

"I didn't think it was in the spirit of the game to make him have a chance to miss a 2-footer to lose the matches in front of his fans,'' Nicklaus said.

The act of sportsmanship is still cited as one of the game's great moments -- not that everyone agreed with it. U.S. captain Sam Snead was said to be furious, and other members of the U.S. team grumbled that they were there to win and not be good sports.

But it would be the only time in most of those U.S. players' careers where the U.S. Ryder Cup effort was ever remotely in doubt. Jacklin would play in the Ryder Cup five more times, never sniffing a team victory.

For a successful competitor such as Jacklin, it was frustrating. And he continued to get the sense that there was no plan, no will to try and change the outcome. And when he was left off the team in 1981 by captain John Jacobs, Jacklin vowed to put the Ryder Cup out of his memory. He was so angry, he wanted no part of the Ryder Cup or the people running it.

"They just must have thought all they had to do was keep turning up,'' Jacklin said. "That's the most important thing, 'Let's turn up.' I had been on the receiving end of a few thrashings. There's no pride for me in just turning up. At that point, I was pretty much done with the Ryder Cup. I was upset with the way I had been treated.''

The Concorde and cashmere

In May 1983, Jacklin, who was about to turn 38, saw his career winding down. He had putting problems, and he wasn't performing up to his standards. He has often said he never quite got over Lee Trevino chipping in on the 71st hole at Muirfield in 1972, where Jacklin felt he had an excellent chance at a second Claret Jug and a third major title in four years.

Tied on the par-5 17th, Trevino appeared on his way to a bogey or worse, having hit his fourth shot over the green. Trevino seemed to have given up, taking little time to assess his fifth shot, all but slapping at the ball -- and it somehow went in for a par. Stunned, Jacklin 3-putted for bogey and never seriously contended in a major again.

A year later, he retreated from America, the rigors of travel taking their toll. He and his first wife, Vivien, had three kids, and traveling back and forth became disillusioning.

It was while preparing for a European Tour event in the spring of 1983 at Sand Moor Golf Club near Leeds that he was approached on the driving range by Colin Snape, the secretary of the British PGA, and Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour.

Knowing full well where Jacklin stood on the matter of the Ryder Cup, they nonetheless after considerable debate asked him to be the captain later that year against the United States in, of all places, Nicklaus' backyard; the Golden Bear would captain the U.S. team for the first time in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida -- just a few miles from his home.

"You could have knocked me down with a feather,'' Jacklin said.

He was still seething about the way he was treated in 1981. Jacklin had been 13th in the European Tour's Order of Merit and in need of a pick for the 12-man team. Jacobs instead selected Englishman Mark James (who would captain the 1999 European squad at Brookline) over Jacklin.

Jacklin thought it outrageous that James be included over him; James and teammate Ken Brown had acted so poorly during the 1979 Ryder Cup that both were later fined, with Brown suspended a year from the tour.

"James behaved abominably at the '79 matches, which was the first European match,'' Jacklin said. "He was disruptive. He let the whole side down. Even the Americans knew something was going down and it was a major factor. Doing childish things, being bloody-minded about the whole thing. It tore down any team spirit.

"Having had my experiences in America and having won my major championships, I realized we weren't approaching it in a very professional manner. I knew the American way by then ... the professionalism that America brought to the table when it came to the matches. All that said, the James-Brown thing, the unprofessional way we were approaching it, there was no way we were ever going to win it.''

Not only was Jacklin left off the team, but so, too, was Spain's Seve Ballesteros, Europe's emerging star who had won The Open in 1979 and the Masters in 1980. In his first Ryder Cup in 1979, Ballesteros won only one match, but it was clear his talents would be necessary to have any chance going forward.

The European Tour and British PGA had banned Ballesteros from the Ryder Cup because of his demands for appearance fees at various tournaments. (The irony is the European Tour has for years looked the other way at a practice that continues today.)

"I was also angry at the way Seve had been treated because he was a very proud guy,'' Jacklin said. "Arguably the best player in the world. And they banned him from playing because his manager was asking for appearance fees. ... But they never sat Seve down and said, 'How can we accommodate each other? What can we do?' That never happened. They just sat there and were dictating.''

Also notable was the late date. Ryder Cup captains today are typically named at least 18 months in advance, sometimes longer. It was nearly June and the Ryder Cup was only four months away. Europe didn't have a captain and didn't have its best player.

"There had been delays in coming to a decision following the heavy defeat at Walton Heath in 1981,'' Schofield said. "Some of the committee had wanted to stick with the practice of a 'ceremonial type' captain as a form of thank you for past service. Whereas the young committee members -- led by Bernhard Langer -- wanted the best possible captain who would still be in touch with the players.

"Jacklin helped change the Ryder Cup from a sleepy affair dominated by the United States, barely a blip on golf's radar, to one of the biggest events in sports."

"So after a number of adjourned meetings, the younger guys won the day, and Tony was the nomination. I approached him knowing he may have to be won over.''

That is a nice way of saying it. Jacklin was so shocked he couldn't give an answer. He retreated to Bellow's home to ponder a decision he never dreamed he would face.

"It was the furthest thing that I ever should be approached about it,'' he said. "I had fallen out with them. And I decided to go on my own way. Having done that and had a few hours, I thought it might be an opportunity to put things the way I think they ought to be. When it came to the meeting, I basically didn't care whether I did it or not. And if they had said no to any of it, I would have walked. I would have turned around and left.''

Jacklin demanded three captain's picks (he would eventually get this, but due to the late time of his choosing in 1983, the European Tour took 12 players straight off the money list.) He wanted a team room, something never before used at a Ryder Cup. He was adamant that the team have first-class travel to America via the Concorde and top-notch accommodations. And he insisted on the finest clothing -- shoes, golf bags, pants, shirts, rain suits, everything.

It had particularly galled Jacklin that in Ryder Cups in which he'd played, the team never had proper footwear. "I remember him distinctly talking about plastic shoes,'' his friend Bellow said.

"I said I want carte blanche to address these things,'' Jacklin said of the meeting he had with Schofield, Snape and others on a committee charged with pursuing a captain. "They kept saying OK. Went through the list. 'Whatever you want.' And I said on that basis, I'll do it.''

Waiting outside the room to hear the outcome was Lord Derby, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and also the president of the British PGA. He was relieved Jacklin had agreed to take the job.

"I went to him and said, 'What about Seve?' " Jacklin said.

"Now that you've accepted the captaincy,'' Derby said, "He's your problem.''

Getting Ballesteros on board

In 1983, the Ryder Cup was nowhere near the spectacle it has become today. It had little impact beyond the players, especially in the United States. The Americans considered it an honor to make the team, and expected a routine victory. In 1977 for example, despite being eligible, Tom Weiskopf skipped the Ryder Cup to go on an Alaskan bear hunting trip.

Even after continental Europe teamed up with Great Britain & Ireland in 1979 -- an idea hatched by Nicklaus to make the Ryder Cup more competitive -- the results didn't change. And over the years, the event struggled to survive financially, typically scrambling to find sponsorship money.

Television rights fees, just one of many huge revenue streams today, were virtually nonexistent, with limited exposure in Britain. For the first time in 1983, the Ryder Cup was televised in the U.S. -- for two hours on tape delay by ABC on Sunday. The Ryder Cup was still far from solid financial footing.

It was against that backdrop that Jacklin asked for and received the best of everything. "I had no bloody idea how they were going to pay for it,'' he said.

Scotland's Bernard Gallacher was among those on the committee who helped push for Jacklin. He played on Jacklin's first team in 1983 and then served as a vice captain for three Ryder Cups before succeeding Jacklin for his own run as captain.

"We needed a special person to go up against the mighty Jack Nicklaus, especially in America,'' Gallacher said. "Because of his exceptional playing record, past Open and U.S. Open champion, Tony was the most respected figure in UK sport, far less golf.

"The decisive factor was persuading Seve to get behind Tony's strategy, behind the project. Tony developed a close, personal relationship with Seve that endured to the end.''

Convincing Ballesteros had not been an easy task. For all his greatness, Ballesteros was stubborn. His pride often overshadowed good sense. Not only had he feuded with the European Tour, but then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman as well. Ballesteros felt he should be able to pick and choose his tournaments; Beman stuck to tour regulations, which required him to play a minimum number of events.

But the fact he had been kept off the Ryder Cup team wounded Ballesteros. Like Jacklin, he had built up a good bit of distaste for the entire event, and had all but written it off in the future. And that was Jacklin's challenge. He immediately sought a meeting, and Jacklin said it occurred the following week at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport, England -- in the town where The Open would be played that summer at Royal Birkdale and where the '69 Ryder Cup had been played.

"He spent the first half hour venting,'' Jacklin said. "Saying this that and the other. I said, 'You're preaching to the converted.' He was a very proud guy and he was angry. Felt he had been slighted. I said, 'We're not going to be in the back of the bus anymore. They've promised me the best of everything.'

"I told him I can't do it without you. You're the best player in the world as far as I'm concerned. You're passionate about what you do. I'm passionate about the fact that I think we can beat the Americans. I can't possibly do it without you. We can make a concerted effort to meet up on equal terms with the Americans.

"Once we finished the whole thing, Seve said, 'OK, I help you.' That was the start.''

Indeed, it was the beginning of a run that few saw coming. In the four Ryder Cups that Jacklin captained for Europe, Ballesteros never lost more than one match in any of them. He played all five matches each time and went 12-4-4.

In 1987, Jacklin paired Ballesteros with a 21-year-old rookie from Spain, Jose Maria Olazabal, a partnership that proved to be the best in Ryder Cup history. They went 11-2-2 together, playing every team match through 1991 and three more in 1993.

Ballesteros would go 20-12-5 in his eight Ryder Cup appearances, with two victories and a tie under Jacklin and another win in 1995, his last Ryder Cup. Ballesteros, who died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer, also captained the European side to victory in 1997.

Changes in attitude

The Concorde was a British-French supersonic jet that traveled at twice the speed of sound with seating for more than 100 people. It was luxury in the sky, and the fact that a plane could go from London to New York in approximately three hours made it the journey of envy. (The plane and service was discontinued in 2003.)

The U.S. Ryder Cup team had used the Concorde in 1981 while their European counterparts had typically come across the Atlantic on British Airways, "in the back of bus,'' as Jacklin said. His concerns about paying for it were alleviated when the European Tour and British PGA sold seats on the plane at a premium to supporters who wanted to travel to America and watch the matches.

The new captain had gone to Florida shortly after securing Ballesteros' participation to find a suitable hotel as well as meeting space at PGA National that is now commonly referred to as the team room.

"We'd never had one,'' Jacklin said. "We'd huddle in the locker room or have these cramped meetings and then everyone would disperse that night. I wanted that to be where the players could come all the time. They could eat and drink and relax. They could talk. We could talk strategy. That would be our place to jell.''

A clothing company was secured to provide appropriate uniforms, including pants, shirts, sweaters, rain gear -- and shoes. And nice golf bags were part of the package, too.

"Back then it was the good old British PGA who were in control of it, and Tony said, 'This has got to change. You've got to treat the guys the same,' " said Nick Faldo, who would succeed Jacklin as Britain's best golfer, going on to win six major championships; Faldo played in his first Ryder Cup in 1977. "If we go there with plastic golf bags, which we did moons ago, and part of our wardrobe was a raincoat, I mean ... goodness me. We didn't feel like golfers.

"And we got walloped all the time. And finally after 1983 when we showed how close we could get ... you've got to stand up on the first tee and not afford feeling a couple down to your opponents. He upped the standards.''

Said Langer: "Tony was a very good leader. He had some great ideas. He was a player himself and played under different captains. He saw what they did and didn't do. He started paving a road that wasn't paved before.''

Faldo was joined on that '83 team by Ballesteros, Langer, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle, players that would all go on to win major championships. Another member of that team was rookie Paul Way, who was only 20 years old at the time.

Way epitomized what Jacklin was able to do as a captain, meshing his youth with the savvy and skill of Ballesteros. They played all four team matches together, going 2-1-1. Way then beat Curtis Strange in singles.

"Tony gave us belief, really,'' said Way, now 53, living in England and playing occasionally on the European Senior Tour. "And Seve was fantastic. It was incredible to be paired with him for four matches. He was like a second captain. Tony talked him into coming back after being left out and obviously was an integral part of the success of it, really. He loved it. He loved beating the Americans. Obviously winning at The Belfry in '85 was fantastic, but this set the ball rolling.''

For the first time in years, the Ryder Cup was tense. It was 8-8 after two days in 1983, with singles left to decide it. Ballesteros hit a miraculous shot from a fairway bunker on the 18th hole -- with a 5-wood -- to earn a tie with Fuzzy Zoeller. Faldo, Langer and Way won their matches, and only when American Lanny Wadkins knocked his wedge shot to within inches on the 18th hole to earn a tie with Jose Maria Canizares did the Americans secure the victory.

The 14½ to 13½ win was the closest Ryder Cup outcome since the celebrated tie in 1969.

"We had lost by a single point and were devastated,'' Jacklin said. "But Seve recognized we shouldn't be so sad. He said, 'This is a victory for us.' It was the best we'd ever done in America by miles. Of course it still hurt. But he was right. We took a giant step that year. Instead of the bravado I'd experienced in the '60s and '70s, this manifested itself in confidence. That's a hell of a lot different than bravado. It was a huge disappointment, but at least it was a match.

"In hindsight, going over the list of things we'd done to change, I didn't see anything wrong with the way we'd done it. We'd just gotten beat, plain and simple. Everything was great about the week.''

Victory, finally

Despite the euphoria surrounding the close call in 1983, the fact remained that the European/GB&I team had not won since 1957, which Jacklin attended.

"It was such an inspiring thing for me, seeing these great players," he said.

And it wasn't lost on Jacklin that after 28 years he could be the one to deliver that elusive victory at The Belfry, a resort just outside of Birmingham, England that had three courses and would become the model for future Ryder Cup venues -- a place that was willing to pay dearly for the right to host the event and thereby gain exposure.

"When we arrived at The Belfry in '85, the nucleus of the team was more or less the same,'' Jacklin said. "And there was a sense of expectation in front of a home crowd because of what we'd achieved in '83 despite being beat in the end. That confidence as opposed to bravado was there. That was the thing that would change the outcome.''

The U.S. was still a prohibitive favorite, captained by Trevino -- Jacklin's nemesis at the '72 Open. A year prior, Trevino had won the PGA Championship for his sixth major title. As a player, he had competed in six Ryder Cups, never playing on a losing team, the only close call coming during that 1969 tie.

Like many of his predecessors, Trevino operated under the mantra that he could simply send his guys out to play. No sense in fretting over pairings and the like. Put players together who wanted to be together and let them go. Eleven of his 12 players were once or future major championship winners.

It was also common to save the best players for last. In 1969, for example, it was no coincidence that Jacklin faced Nicklaus twice on the final day, when there were two eight-player singles sessions. Although the captain's submit their lineups not knowing the order and pairings of the other team, it was pretty much understood that the strength would be at the end.

"I'm thinking, 'What the hell is the point of that?' " Jacklin said. "Let's start shifting things about a bit to get some momentum. The most important thing is to get ahead. From that first one in '83, I started to do that. Sometimes put the power at the front. Sometimes in the middle. Sometimes leave an anchor man.

"And I leaned so hard on the major winners. I told them I was going to do that. Anybody with the mental fortitude to be able to win a major had more going for him than just a tournament winner. I saw that was part of his role.''

Jacklin also had no problem leaving players on the bench. In '83, rookie Gordon Brand Jr. played only in singles. Lyle played only two matches. In '85, sensing that Faldo's game was off, Jacklin made the decision to play him only once before singles.

The '85 match was close heading to Sunday, when the Europeans won 7½ of 12 points in singles and cruised to a 16½ to 11½ victory -- relief and joy the overriding emotions.

"Winning was euphoric,'' he said. "It was a stepping stone from '83. We took that confidence we gained there and turned that into a home victory.''

It would be the last Ryder Cup not televised in the United States.

Winning on the road

There was no point in messing with success. Jacklin was named captain for the 1987 Ryder Cup, and he would again go up against Nicklaus on another of his home turfs -- Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Not only was the course' near Nicklaus hometown of Columbus, it was a true home game for the Americans, who were used to playing Muirfield Village during the annual Memorial Tournament that the Golden Bear had launched in 1976.

But by now, however, the European team was turning into a powerhouse. Ballesteros, Langer, Faldo, Woosnam and Lyle had emerged as Europe's Big Five. Olazabal came along to add more strength. Over their careers, they would combine to win 18 major championships.

"Tony was a very good leader. He had some great ideas. He was a player himself and played under different captains. He saw what they did and didn't do. He started paving a road that wasn't paved before." Bernhard Langer, who played under Tony Jacklin on Team Europe's Ryder Cup teams

"Tony was smart enough to ride them,'' said Strange, who played on all four U.S. teams that went up against the European teams captained by Jacklin. "He had five of the best players in the world. They came around at the right time, pretty much the same age. And he would ride his top guys.''

In 1987, Ballesteros went 4-1, Langer 3-1-1, Faldo 3-1-1, Woosnam 3-1-1 and Lyle 3-1-1. Olazabal, a rookie, was 3-2. The Europeans forged a whopping 10½ to 5½ lead after two days, then fought off an American singles rally to win, 15-13.

"We rolled up at Muirfield on the Concorde, which was pretty darned impressive, and then we came wandering down the stairs in cashmere jackets, and it created an atmosphere,'' Faldo said. "Tony kept everybody together. He wanted the whole team to get together. Rather than saying, well, I'll disappear and eat in a restaurant and see you guys tomorrow, everybody ate together. We all stayed in the houses down the first hole at Muirfield Village and he created that [feeling] you really do feel as one.''

Afterward, Jacklin insisted the entire team show up at a local hotel where European supporters had gathered for a celebration. The idea was to go visit with them for a few minutes, express gratitude for coming, and then get back to Muirfield Village to resume their own private party.

The team walked in with the Ryder Cup and was given a standing ovation. The supposed short visit lasted hours as the players and fans reveled in the accomplishment of winning for the first time in America. Jacklin recalled Ballesteros saying he was happy to stay with all the people. "It was as good as it gets,'' he said.

Personal tragedy

Having played his major role in turning the Ryder Cup from a drama-less U.S rout into a riveting contest, Jacklin considered what to do next. He pretty much had an open invitation to captain the Europeans for as long as he wanted, but wondered if that was a good idea.

"I was reluctant to do it,'' Jacklin said. "There was nowhere else to go." He had won at home. He had won on the road. He had won for the first time in 28 years, then defeated Nicklaus' team on the course the Golden Bear designed. He had set the model for future Ryder Cups.

Why fool with fate, smudge the record?

Jacklin ultimately was convinced to do it again with a return to The Belfry in 1989. But before that would occur, he suffered through his own personal turmoil.

The Jacklins had moved to Spain in 1983 -- Tony had taken a job as director of golf at San Roque Club near Sotogrande. Jacklin's wife Vivien, who was 44, was running errands one day in late April, 1988. Earlier she had complained of a headache, but there had been no other signs of distress. While driving, Vivien suffered a brain hemorrhage that killed her instantly. Her car swerved off the road, where she was later found by Jacklin's friend, Dave Thomas.

"There was no sign of this,'' said Bellow, Jacklin's long-time friend. "It was a terrible, terrible shock. I remember the funeral; (actor) Sean Connery organized everything. And of course Tony was totally distraught.''

Vivien was buried on May 1, just seven months after that great triumph at Muirfield Village. The celebration and all that glory seemed so distant. Suddenly, Jacklin was alone. Two close friends of his had also died that year. Thomas, who had helped him get a club pro job in Spain, became estranged from him due to a business deal gone bad.

It was such a dark time that Jacklin said he contemplated suicide.

A short time after Vivien's death, Jacklin met a woman less than half his age, resulting in an affair that made its way to the British tabloids. The woman, Donna Methven, sold her story to London's Sun, and the resulting backlash was devastating. Jacklin said much of what was in the story was not true, but the damage was done.

"He had lost this fantastic girl who had been his life partner,'' Bellow said of Vivien's death. "He was in a bad period. And [the tabloids] couldn't wait to pounce.''

But not long after the tabloid woes began to wane, Jacklin was visiting a neighbor and met Astrid Waagen, a Norwegian who had two children with her former husband Alan Kendall, a guitarist with the Bee Gees.

Only a few months later they were married. Their son, Sean -- named after Connery -- now 25, plays on the European Challenge Tour.

"I knew nothing about him when I met him,'' said Astrid Jacklin, who now helps manage his business affairs. "I asked him what his business was and he told me he was a golfer. I said, 'I know, but what is your business?' I knew he played golf, but I didn't know you could make money playing it.''

Jacklin wasn't making much money playing then, his income derived from the club job as well as corporate opportunities surrounding his Ryder Cup captaincy. Aside from the £2,000 he and the other players were given as expense money for the Ryder Cup, he was not paid a salary for performing those duties.

Astrid was with him when he captained the team for the final time in 1989, another tense match that ended in a 14-14 tie, meaning Europe would retain the Cup.

"It was time obviously after that to go,'' Jacklin said. "I honestly thought it would have been self-indulgent to keep on doing it. As it grew in stature, things became a bit more difficult. But it was a fantastic journey.

"... If you'd have asked me back then I wouldn't have thought the outcome would be the way it's been over these years.''

The legacy

Before Jacklin became European captain, the U.S. led the series 20-3-1. Starting with the 1983 Ryder Cup, Europe has gone 10-5-1, including Jacklin's 2-1-1 record; Europe has gone 8-2 over the past 10. The U.S. has lost three straight for the second time in seven Ryder Cups. The Americans haven't won in Europe since 1993.

In the aftermath of the last defeat at Gleneagles, the U.S. instituted a controversial "Task Force'' to assess its woes and come up with a new plan of attack. All it needed to do was look at Jacklin's model, which was basically all about studying the various players, matching games and personalities, making sure everyone was comfortable, and forging continuity from one Ryder Cup to the next.

It seems obvious now, but Europe was stuck on losing before it went outside the box and chose Jacklin.

"Put quite simply, it was probably the most important decision made by the Europeans in terms of helping turn around a losing record in the matches,'' said Schofield, the former European Tour chief executive.

"Tony was the right captain at the right time. He brought Seve on board and molded a winning formula and team. His template stands today.''

Jacklin would serve under his former assistant Gallacher in 1991's "War By The Shore'' won by the United States. And then Jacklin would start to think about his own golf game again.

He moved to Florida in 1993 to start preparing for what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions for 50-and-older golfers. He played mini-tours around the Palm Beach area and represented PGA National -- where he had captained his first Ryder Cup -- to hone his game. After turning 50, he won in his fourth start. He played 109 events over four years, winning twice and posting 12 top-10s, earning some $1.1 million.

But Jacklin tired of the travel. He got into golf course design -- he and Nicklaus collaborated on "The Concession'' course and development in Bradenton, and for a time he represented the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia before settling in Bradenton 16 years ago. Today he makes corporate appearances, plays a little golf and works on those drawings.

"Tony was an icon,'' Nicklaus said. "He was a major champion, having won the British Open and the U.S Open and he played in several Ryder Cups. Tony was a hero throughout the U.K. and all the Ryder Cup players of that era looked up to him. He was their star. And he was very enthusiastic and passionate about the Ryder Cup.''

That passion still exists today. Jacklin lives full time in America "where dreams come true,'' he said. But he understandably still bleeds for Europe. He and Astrid will be at Hazeltine this week as guests of the European Tour, and if they look upon the landscape where Jacklin long ago captured the U.S. Open, they'll see vast grandstands, huge hospitality venues and thousands upon thousands of spectators.

If he were so inclined, Jacklin could claim his fair share of credit for all the opulence. Before him, the Ryder Cup struggled to be relevant. Now it rivals the Masters for the biggest event in golf.

But for Jacklin, it was really all about pride. About excelling when given an equal opportunity. About molding superstar individuals into a team. About standing up to the vast nation he loved, but one he dearly wanted to beat.

A tour of his home eventually leads to the room filled with golf memorabilia, the numerous drawings created by Jacklin as well as various photos and paintings.

One stands out: a large portrait mounted over the fireplace, Jacklin wearing the yellow sweater vest he had on that day at The Belfry in 1989 when Europe celebrated again.

And there is Jacklin hugging the Ryder Cup -- as if he owns it.