Jack­lin: I won’t see Ry­der Cup at Bel­fry again in my life­time For­mer Europe cap­tain re­grets event has grown too big for his­toric Mid­land course

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Paul Suart Sport Writer

THEY are names syn­ony­mous with the Ry­der Cup. Yet ‘Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic’ Tony Jack­lin does not think he will ever see the fa­mous tour­na­ment re­turn to the Bel­fry.

This year’s bi­en­nial golf­ing show­down be­tween Europe and the USA kicks off at Le Golf Na­tional, just out­side Paris, on Fri­day.

Marco Si­mone Golf and Coun­try Club, on the out­skirts of the Ital­ian cap­i­tal Rome, will then play host when the event re­turns to Europe in four years’ time.

No club has staged more Ry­der Cups than the Bel­fry, near Sut­ton Cold­field.

Its world fa­mous Brabazon course has been Europe’s des­ig­nated venue four times, with the home side lift­ing the tro­phy on three oc­ca­sions.

But Jack­lin, who was cap­tain when Europe clinched their first ti­tle at the Bel­fry in 1985, reck­ons it might be some time be­fore golf ’s big­gest team event is back in the Mid­lands.

“It won’t hap­pen in my life­time,” Jack­lin, Europe’s most suc­cess­ful cap­tain, told the Post.

“Lo­gis­ti­cally, these days it has to have Gov­ern­ment back­ing.

“In France and Italy they have been able to prove they can take it and have the space to ac­com­mo­date it.

“There’s the se­cu­rity as­pect and a whole list of cri­te­ria now.

“I was told the one in Paris will be three times as big as the one at Gle­nea­gles (in 2014).

“I find that hard to get my head around be­cause I was at Gle­nea­gles a week af­ter the matches.

“They were still dis­man­tling the spec­ta­tor’s vil­lage and hadn’t even made an im­pres­sion. It’s be­come mas­sive, re­ally mas­sive.

“The de­bate as to where it will go in fu­ture is open to lots of dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria. We are Europe and I’m sure there will be cour­ses and venues built specif­i­cally in fu­ture to have the Ry­der Cup.

“There’s so many venues emerg­ing across the con­ti­nent.”

It’s 16 years since the Ry­der Cup was last held at the Bel­fry.

Europe, cap­tained by Sam Tor­rance, beat the States 15 & a 1/2 to 12 and & 1/2 in a post­poned in­stal­ment of the com­pe­ti­tion fol­low­ing the 911 ter­ror at­tack in 2001.

And while the Bel­fry has been left be­hind, in some re­spects, by big­ger and bet­ter new re­sorts, Jack­lin feels the club will for­ever be in­grained in the fab­ric of the fa­mous old tour­na­ment.

“The Bel­fry will al­ways have its place in the his­tory of the matches,” added Jack­lin, who this week hosted a char­ity golf day at the Bel­fry in aid of Rain­bows Hospice.

“It was where Europe got it’s start. It’s where the whole thing started.

“It’s ab­so­lutely still a very spe­cial name when it comes to the Ry­der Cup.”

The Ry­der Cup dates back to 1927 and was orig­i­nally con­tested by Amer­ica and Great Bri­tain.

The British team took in play­ers from the Repub­lic of Ire­land from 1973 and ex­panded once more, in 1979, to in­clude the rest of Europe.

Those changes were de­signed to even things up af­ter the Amer­i­cans won 19 of the first 22 tour­na­ments.

Jack­lin was a 13-year-old boy in the crowd at Lin­drick Golf Club, York­shire, when a Dai Rees in­spired Great Bri­tain up­set their transat­lantic op­po­nents in 1957.

“That was the first time I’d seen world-class golfers,” Jack­lin said.

“That was a great in­spi­ra­tion to me.”

Hav­ing landed 30 pro­fes­sional wins as a player, in­clud­ing two Ma­jors, it was Jack­lin who mas­ter­minded the next de­feat of Amer­ica in 1985.

“The vic­tory here (at the Bel­fry) was ex­tremely spe­cial be­cause 28 years is a hell of a long time,” said Jack­lin, now 74.

“I re­mem­ber Bern­hard Langer say­ing ‘I’m 28 years-old’. So it had been a long time.

“But the most spe­cial win was the Muir­field Vil­lage one (in 1987).

“It was the first time we’d won on Amer­i­can soil. It was in Jack Nick­laus’ back­yard and he was cap­tain.

“He was prob­a­bly the only one in Amer­i­can golf who was big enough to take it on the chin and to not let it hurt his fu­ture.

“He was such a great sportsman any­way. There’s one first and that was it.”

The Bel­fry win in 1985 was lit­tered with un­for­get­table mo­ments, none more iconic than Seve Balles­teros’ mon­strous tee shot onto the green at the par four tenth. Balles­teros was the mer­cu­rial tal­is­man only out-scored that year by Span­ish com­pa­triot Manuel Pinero.

“Seve was in­tim­i­dat­ing – even to some of his own team-mates!” Jack­lin ad­mit­ted. “He was a com­plete mav­er­ick. “Pinero was a great match player and so was Seve – that goes with­out say­ing.

“There’s an in­tim­i­dat­ing fac­tor about some play­ers that oth­ers just don’t have. Seve most cer­tainly had that.

“Match play is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal to stroke play.

“Stroke play by its na­ture is cau­tious. You don’t want big num­bers on your card.

“But you can throw the wind in match play.

“You can make a ten and you just lose the hole.

“The Ry­der Cup is about at­tack­ing golf. Some warm to it more than oth­ers.

“That’s why in 1985 I wanted three cap­tain’s picks be­cause cer­tain guys are match play­ers and oth­ers aren’t.

“There is no en­vi­ron­ment like it in golf, when you get out there as a team.

“There’s no hid­ing place. You are com­pletely and ut­terly naked.

“You’re ex­posed and your game is ex­posed to the world.

“Mil­lions watch­ing on the TV and thou­sands watch­ing live - it’s one hell of an ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You have to be up for geous and have your shape.” cau­tion to

The Bel­fry will al­ways have its place in the his­tory of the matches. It’s still a very spe­cial name when it comes to the Ry­der Cup

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>Golf leg­end Tony Jack­lin, who was cap­tain when Europe clinched their first ti­tle at the Bel­fry in 1985 and again in 1989, pic­tured left >Jack­lin play­ing for Team Great Bri­tain and Ire­land in 1973

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