LYTHAM, England – Lee Westwood has a golden opportunity in the British Open at Royal Lytham this week to smash the jinx that has prevented him from winning a major title, according to English legend Tony Jacklin.
Back at the course where he won his first major in 1969, ending an 18-year drought for British players, Jacklin said the English World No.3 was a perfect fit for the Lancashire links course where accuracy off the tee is capital.
Asked to assess the chances of Westwood and England's other top hope, World No, 1 Luke Donald, Jacklin had no doubts.
“Lee, I think of the two, would be the one I would point towards,” he said.
“He's a good driver of the ball. His ball striking is fantastic. Luke is not the straightest driver on the Tour.
“Lee, this should suit him down to the ground, the conditions of the golf course and the way it's playing.
“But you never know. It's a nerve-wracking thing. And it's a daunting task, but he has got all the experience in the world now and he's surely up for it, but at 39, the clock is ticking.
“I keep my fingers crossed for him, because I think he really deserves it amd it would look terrific on his resume Ä Open Champion.”
Jacklin's win at Lytham in the summer of 1969 bookended a superb year for him as 11 months later he went on to win the US Open at Hazeltine Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, leading from wire to wire.
He never won another major title, although he went on to earn huge respect and success as the captain of four European Ryder Cup teams from 1983 to 1989.
Looking back on his glory years as a player, Jacklin recalled how very different the situation was then for European golfers to what it is now.
“Back in 1969, as far as I'm aware, Peter Townsend and myself were the only players playing in America for a start, and Peter didn't manage to win anything over there,” he said.
“Now you look at the World Rankings, I mean, it speaks for itself. Luke Donald, capable of anything. He's got to get in the mix in a major. That's Luke's big thing now.
“We see him play steady golf from week to week, but the experience the likes of Luke, Lee, we've got the fancy dresser lad, what's his name? (Ian Poulter). To say nothing of the lads from Northern Ireland, (Graeme) McDowell and (Rory) McIlroy.”
Jacklin, the last Englishman to win an Open Championship on English soil, had words of advice for all of the English contingent.
On hearing that Poulter had commented on his Twitter site that he would need a snorkel this week and other grumblings that the rough was too punishing due to the record rainfall in the northwest of England over the last few weeks, Jacklin said that it was the same for everyone.
“Somebody is going to win, I'll tell you that,” he said.
“No matter how unplayable it is, somebody will win. You really don't get the guys who are in with a shout complaining about conditions of golf courses.
“Golf courses are to be played... and you cannot get out of the fact that it's controlling the golf ball that wins you major championships and that's the examination.” – Sapa-AFP