TONY JACKLIN put Britain back on top of the sporting world last night with a sensational victory in the US Open golf championship here. He is the first British player to win it for fifty years.
Jacklin, 25, won by seven strokes from American Dave Hill to collect the first prize of pounds 12,500. Beyond this lies a million-dollar bonanza for the lad who started life as a pounds 5-a-week fitter in a steel works in Scunthorpe. After his victory, he said: "It was murder out there.
"I don't think I've ever been under so much pressure. Nervous? I was petrified. Now I just feel numb."
Jacklin's lead over Hill had slipped to a slim three strokes after two disastrous holes on the front nine. Five strokes ahead at one stage, Jacklin was a picture of misery as he hit consecutive bogies at the seventh and eighth and allowed Hill to narrow the gap.
Then Jacklin struck back. He sank a 25-foot putt at the ninth for a brilliant birdie three and picked up another birdie with an eight-foot putt on the next hole. He finished with a flourish by sinking another spectacular 25-foot putt for a birdie three at the 18th hole, giving him 70 for the round and a seven-under-par total of 281 for the tournament.
Premier Edward Heath sent Jacklin a telegram congratulating him on his "magnificent victory" for British golf. He flies back to London today to defend the Open title he won last year - and he may have a few joking words with his father, Arthur.
When Jacklin became an assistant golf professional at Potters Bar, Middlesex, at the age of 17, his Dad tried to dissuade him from a golfing career. "There's no money in it," he said.