Tony Jacklin Reflects on His Career and on LIV Golf

The members of the DP World Tour, whose next event kicks off on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Yas Links in the United Arab Emirates, owe a great deal to the European players who helped make the tour what it is today.That includes Tony Jacklin, the winner of the 1969 British Open, the 1970 United States Open and eight tournaments on the European Tour, now the DP World Tour.Jacklin, from England, also played a huge role in the Ryder Cup. A four-time captain from 1983 to 1989, he led Team Europe to two victories, including the first over the Americans since 1957.Jacklin, 78, reflected recently on his career, on the controversy over the Saudi-financed LIV Golf tour that guarantees entrants six-figure payouts and the game that has meant so much to him.The following conversation has been edited and condensed.When you won your two majors, what did that fame feel like?A Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. The debut of the new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series has resurfaced longstanding questions about athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what to know:What is LIV Golf? The series is an upstart professional golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the highest level of pro golf for nearly a century.Why is the new series controversial? The event has created sparks within golf for upending the traditions and strictures of how the game is played. It has also become a lightning rod for human rights campaigners who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to launder its reputation.What is attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The first tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That is on top of the appearance fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.I was achieving my goals, and it was a satisfying feeling, obviously, to be respected by my peers and by the general public wherever I went. I felt like I earned that during that period.Any downside to the fame?Yeah. For example, in England, I couldn’t go into pubs. If you went anywhere where alcohol was sold, I was always aware that [people] could come up and say something negative and spoil things. I kept myself very much to myself. I wasn’t a party animal ever. I realized as I went along, that’s it’s a give and it’s a take. You couldn’t do the things when you’re famous that you could have done when you weren’t.Did one Open mean more than the other?[The British Open] was the one that I wanted the most. Having achieved that and to be able to achieve the U.S. Open, it was like I owned the world. There was no substitute for that feeling. Putting your head on the pillow on those given evenings and knowing that you beat everybody who turned up, it’s an immeasurable memory.Let’s say it’s 1970, 1971 after your two major wins. If someone had given you the kind of money that LIV offers, would you have listened?I would have probably listened, but I had everything I wanted in 1971. I was happily married. I had started a family. I had a Rolls-Royce. I had nice houses. I never made money the main criteria. I just wanted to be the best player in the world. I was smart enough to know that money would follow if I achieved that.How do you feel about the players who have joined LIV?I think everyone has got to do what they think is right for them. It’s not my job to tell somebody how much is enough. About the only thing I would ever look back on and have, if I’d had all the money in the world, is a private plane to take me where I wanted to go.Do you still hit golf balls?I haven’t touched a golf club for six months. When you lose your flexibility, it’s no fun. Golf, it’s a battle, a disappointment these days. My body won’t do what I want it to do.Do you think you’ll ever play again?I might. We do this [event during the Insperity Invitational] in Texas called the 3M Greats of Golf, and if I get the call to arms, as it were, I shall hit a few balls a couple of weeks before. If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t worry me.You’ve hit enough balls in your lifetime, haven’t you?I certainly have and it’s been great.

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