An artists impression of the moment Tony Jacklin won the Open championship
Lytham 1969-18th tee. Standing on the last tee with two shots in hand on his playing partner Bob Charles, Tony Jacklin was just a short, agonizing step from becoming Open Champion. He had to gather his thoughts together, relax and channel them into a pure swing.
His main focus for the last two years had been on finding a repeatable tempo. It is probably no coincidence that he had been influenced by his two friends and fellow USPGA Tour competitors Bert Yancy and Tom Weiskopf. These were two of the great exponents of smooth and effortless swings that oozed flow and rhythm.
Yancy won seven times on the PGA Tour and later joined the Senior PGA Tour. His swing was known for its rhythm and balance ( see blogs). At his best Yancy was a very impressive ball striker.
A chronic illness reduced both the quality and length of his career.
Although he had 28 Tour wins, including one major, Weiskopf still did not fulfill the promise of his huge talent.
His swing was much admired on the Tour. He hit the ball high, generated enormous power, and had very good control as well, a rare combination. Weiskopf's displays of temper on the golf course earned him the nickname of "The Towering Inferno".
The following film is the swing Tony Jacklin made in 1968 while in America. Only one year away from his Open win. At this time his movement was becoming finely tuned for something big.
Tony was focused on his lower body, the big muscles. Essentially he was distancing himself from the small ball mechanics that dominated British golf at this time, an inferior method based on manipulating hand and wrist action.
After reaching the tee in an intensively focused mindset (He later said he could hardly remember any of this short walk), Tony prepared mentally for the final hurdle.
A good tee shot would mean it would be almost impossible for his nearest opponent Bob Charles to catch him.
Bob Charles played off, making a rare tee shot mistake by hooking the ball (left hand) into the right-side rough and leaving it surrounded by bushes.
It gave Tony a slight moment of extra thought. Perhaps better to play safe with a shorter club now his opponent was in trouble. The moment was short as he continued to prepare for the shot with his driver. He had been driving excellently the entire week, it would be the same this time as well.
He stood up to the ball without fear, looked down the fairway, and took his stance. His mind was fixed on the ball flight. In his mind, he could see both the direction and the trajectory as he found his posture and grip pressure. All on autopilot.
There was no holding back now, he thought of a smooth start back, he recalled his best drives: and then he started the process of swing.
The best drive of Tony Jacklin`s career
An artists impression
In later interviews, he revealed what helped him most on that day:
"Stay in the moment until it`s all done.
"Learn not to go where the head takes you."
"Do not succumb to the weakness of wanting something"
"You must have the mental discipline to succeed."
Jacklin`s tee-shot had carried 260 yards and rolled another ten.
He was now a three quarter eight iron swing away from the center of the green.