TONY Jacklin returned to the scene of his momentous Open triumph in 1969 and remarked: “Royal Lytham is like my second home”.
Jacklin won the Pringle tournament at this year’s Open venue and made his Championship debut there in 1963, six years before lifting the Claret Jug to end a long British drought.
The British golf legend, now living in the United States, said his abiding memory of 1969 was being nervous embarking on the final stretch.
“I remember saying to Jack Nicklaus at the presentation that I didn’t think I could be that nervous and play. And he said, ‘I know – isn’t it great?’
“Even until the last shot into 18, I hadn’t won it. I hadn’t won it until Bob Charles missed his putt and I rolled mine up to about an inch from the hole. Then I figured I could make that without any problem.
“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.
“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 here. I felt there was a lot of support.”
Looking forward to this week’s Open, Jacklin said top-class drivers would come into their own.
“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. You can’t win it on 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 one gets you mentally engaged.
“You’re hardly going to shoot a high first‑round score and get back in an event like this. “The bunkering is strategically placed. The bunkers are a one‑shot penalty.
“It used to be that the front nine was a key factor. You had to shoot 32 to 34 going out and hold on coming back.
“From what I’ve read, the front nine has been toughened up somewhat. It’s going to put the scores up if that’s the case. And of course the rough is clearly up.”
VETERAN BBC commentator Peter Alliss was due to receive an honour today at Royal Lytham and St Annes. He has been rewarded for his services to the junior game by the Golf Foundation. Colin Montgomerie was chosen to present the Spirit Of Golf award to Alliss.
A Golf Foundation spokesman said: “The award is not only in recognition of the way Peter has made the sport entertaining for young people, but also for the support he has given to junior golf and his commitment to the Golf Foundation over many years.”