LYTHAM ST ANNES, England, July 16 (Reuters) - Title contenders at this week’s British Open will not be the ones whinging about the weather or the condition of the golf course, 1969 champion Tony Jacklin said on Monday.
“Somebody is going to win, I’ll tell you that, no matter how unplayable it is,” Jacklin, who won his only Open title at Royal Lytham & St Annes 43 years ago, said in a news conference.
“You really don’t get the guys who are in with a shout complaining about conditions of golf courses.”
World number four and 14-times major winner Tiger Woods labelled parts of the Lancashire links “unplayable” on Sunday while defending champion Darren Clarke said the rough in places was “absolutely brutal”.
“The rough was as high at Muirfield in 1966 when Nicklaus won,” Jacklin said in reference to American Jack Nicklaus, the most prolific major winner of all time with 18 victories.
”They had two stewards on the left and right of every hole going ‘It’s in there somewhere.’ That’s when Nicklaus drove with a 1-iron all week. Tiger won at Hoylake with a 1-iron all week.
“Somebody is going to do it. Somebody will figure it out and get it done. It’s just about getting your head around it and getting on with it. Whinging won’t get it.”
British Opens are notorious for their unpredictable weather and Woods wrote in his pre-tournament blog the unique annual competition was his “favourite major.”
Woods and Masters champion Bubba Watson have both already stated their intent to play safely off the tee, which Jacklin feels is the only way to win a major, let alone the British Open.
“You cannot get out of the fact that it’s controlling the golf ball that wins you major championships. That’s the examination.”
World number one Luke Donald and third-ranked Lee Westwood will be out to land their maiden major wins and become the first English winners on English soil since Jacklin in 1969.
Copy Nicklaus’s approach to majors and they might just do so, said Jacklin.
“Nicklaus said to me years ago he always thought majors were the easiest ones to win, because 95 per cent of the guys didn’t think they could do it,” he said.
Jacklin said he favoured Westwood over Donald to do well at Lytham.
”It’s a daunting task but he (Westwood) has got all the experience in the world now and he’s surely up for it. I keep my fingers crossed for him because I think he really deserves it.
”Lee I think of the two would be the one I would point towards.
“Look at the world rankings, it speaks for itself. The likes of Luke, Lee. Luke Donald is capable of anything. He’s got to get into the mix in a major, that’s his big thing now.”
Westwood has two top-three finishes in his last three Opens while Donald’s best finish is tied-fifth in 2009. (Editing by Matt Barker)