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The Masters: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in our five of the best at Augusta National

The Masters: An old Golden Bear and a young Tiger plus Faldo, Mickelson and Crenshaw – five of the best at Augusta

PUBLISHED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

The Masters almost always produces dramatic golf worthy of the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National.

Here, Sportsmail picks out five of the most memorable tournaments starting with the legend that is Jack Nicklaus way back in 1986.

1) 1986 – Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus was 46, had not won a tournament in two years or a major in six, and was being written off as a spent force. But the Golden Bear produced one more back-nine charge in the 50th Masters, coming home in 30 for a final round of 65 to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by a single shot.

Nicklaus went eagle-birdie-birdie on the 15th, 16th and 17th as Seve Ballesteros squandered the lead by hitting his approach to the 15th into the water short of the green.

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

2) 1997 – Tiger Woods

Kite was again the runner-up 11 years later, but this time by an incredible 12 shots as Woods tore up the record books to claim his first major title. That had looked distinctly unlikely as the 21-year-old played the front nine of his opening round in 40, but he came back in 30 to lie just three shots off the lead.

A second-round 66 took Woods three clear of Colin Montgomerie, a lead he extended to nine shots after round three and a record 12 after a closing 69 made him the youngest ever winner at Augusta.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Passing the torch: Tiger Woods tore up the record books to win his first title at just 21-years-old

3) 2004 – Phil Mickelson

'I don't think any Masters will ever compare to the '86 Masters but, for me, this one does.'

That was the verdict of an emotional Mickelson after he had broken his major duck at the 47th time of asking. Mickelson had shared the lead with Chris Di Marco heading into the final round, but struggled to a front-nine 38 before a brilliant back nine of 31, culminating in a decisive birdie on the 18th, was enough to beat Ernie Els by a shot after the South African's excellent 67.

Crowd Pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Crowd pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

4) 1995 – Ben Crenshaw

At 43, Crenshaw was not quite as old as Nicklaus in 1986, but his second Masters title in 1995 was equally remarkable and emotional.

Harvey Penick, who was Crenshaw's golf coach since he was seven years old, had died the week before and Crenshaw spent the Tuesday of Masters week at Penick's funeral in Austin, Texas.

The image of Crenshaw doubled over in grief and happiness after his final putt dropped – he did not have a single three-putt in 72 holes – has become an iconic Augusta image.

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw

Emotional: Ben Crenshaw is hugged by his caddy Carl Jackson after winning for the second time at AQugusta National. Harvey Penick, who had coached Crenshaw since he was seven, died a week before the tournament

5) 1996 – Nick Faldo

Greg Norman had finished third behind Crenshaw in 1995, but it was the manner of his second-place finish to Nick Faldo the following year which was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Norman led from the outset after an opening 63, the joint lowest score ever in a major championship and only the second 63 ever at Augusta, and after adding rounds of 69 and 71 he was six shots clear of Faldo heading into the final round.

However, his lead was down to two shots by the turn and a back nine of 40 – despite two birdies – meant a closing 78 to Faldo's 67 and a five-shot winning margin for the Englishman.

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Picking up the pieces: Nick Faldo took advantage of an awful final round from Greg Norman to win in 1996

Nick Faldo says Tiger Woods" issues have stopped him being best ever golfer

Woods' indiscretions have stopped him being the best ever golfer, says Faldo

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 11 November 2012

Tiger Woods' extra-marital affairs have ruined his chances of becoming the best golfer in history, Nick Faldo has claimed.

The American was widely tipped to beat Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships after making a stunning start to his career, but is still to win a major title after revelations about his private life emerged almost three years ago.

Woods took a four-month break from golf after admitting cheating on his wife, and he has struggled to impress since returning to action.

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

He has not added to the 14 majors he won before the sex scandal erupted and Faldo, himself a six-time major winner, thinks Woods stands next to no chance of eclipsing Nicklaus' record, which has stood since 1986.

When asked about Woods' chances of winning 18 majors or more, Faldo told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think it's slim. I would lean towards no.

'It has been four years since he last won at the US Open.'

Faldo thinks the psychological strife caused by the news of his affairs continue to haunt Woods three years on and he believes they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

'(The revelations) have done more damage than people would give them credit for,' Faldo said.

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

'People thought he would deal with it and then get back on the golf course.

'It's wrecked that wonderful tranquility you get of going to a golf course, tipping out a bag of balls and hitting them from 9-5 and just thinking of golf.

'When you're a golfer that is great. But now… He has shattered that peace. He won't get that back. Once you lose that concentration and that ability to become completely engrossed in your golf… then slowly things have changed for him.

'His swing… physically, technically, mentally, karma… it's a harder climb right now. Sure, he could come back and do things, but he won't be dominant like he was.'

And with Woods turning 37 next month, Faldo thinks age is also catching up with the American.

'As you get older in this game, the little demons start to sit on your shoulders because you have seen one too many bad shots at the wrong time and it starts to eat away at you and I think he has a little bit of that going on,' Faldo added.

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

One man who has stepped in to the limelight as Woods has faded is Rory McIlroy.

Despite being 23, McIlroy has already won two majors and Faldo thinks the Northern Irishman is set for even bigger things, providing he resists the temptation to play in every lucrative tournament on the tour.

'I have been very impressed with Rory. He is a special kid,' Faldo said.

'There has only been Jack (Nicklaus), Seve (Ballesteros) and Tiger who have won two majors before they were 25, and now there's Rory.

'It puts him in a very special category. There always will be pitfalls for him. He is already feeling it. He is in demand. You can't please everyone.

'You have to be your own boss. He has to pace himself and do all the right things himself. He has 20-odd years left in the game.'

Ryder Cup 2012: Europe must prove they can overcome USA home crowd

The time for trash talk is over… Europe's finest must prove they can be pitch perfect

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UPDATED:

21:37 GMT, 27 September 2012

At the end of this sporting summer, where one moment of a lifetime has followed another, is it too much to ask for a glorious encore that stands comparison

Fortunately, we might just have one with the 39th Ryder Cup, a contest that promises three days of mesmerising drama and unspeakable tension.

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

It's tee time!

At 7.20am in Medinah (1.20pm UK time),
a very nervous European will tee off to kick-start the 39th Ryder Cup.
So how does it feel to stand on that first tee with the eyes of the world on you It’s a jelly-legs moment, as these players recount.

Colin Montgomerie
(Oak Hill, 1995)

‘The pressure facing the first shot
is as intense as it gets. It became an achievement just to stand up. I
was just gulping air like mad. The electricity was fantastic. Nick
Faldo, my playing partner, said it was a three-wood, so I teed the ball
down, took a practice swing and, thankfully, managed to make contact,
which is all you can really ask for in those situations.’

Corey Pavin
(The Belfry, 1993)

‘I can’t even describe how nervous I
was. I put the tee in the ground and I went to put the ball on and
realised my hand was shaking so much. I decided to just drop the ball,
hoping it would stay on the tee. Thank goodness it did. I was able to
compose myself and hit a drive down the middle.’

Nick Faldo
(Lytham St Annes, 1977)

‘Peter Oosterhuis told me I’d be
first. I was a bag of nerves and decided to go off and calm down by
hitting 20 extra five and six irons. Of course, when I stepped on the
tee I saw instantly it was a four-iron shot. I missed the green.
Thereafter, it was the first time I’d ever experienced my stomach
churning for a whole round.’

The game and its supporters stand ready
to make their own, unique contribution. Nowhere else would you find
50,000 people prepared to gather at a shade after 7am to make an unholy
racket. Nowhere else are sportsmen asked to strain every sinew for the
best part of 12 hours and then come back the next day and do it all over
again, with no monetary reward but the chance of something far more
precious: points for their team.

Here we have a course set up to demonstrate just how good the best players from the United States and Europe have become. With no rough, the bombers on either team are going to have no qualms in firing off howitzers. Around the greens, the great short-game merchants are going to relish the tight lies that offer the chance to show off and chip in. The putting surfaces are so pure, the wizards with the short stick cannot wait to weave their spell.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about setting up a course to favour one side over the other but what America’s captain Davis Love has done is create the conditions for an extravaganza of attacking play in the knowledge that this offers him his best chance of fully involving the crowd, the so-called ‘13th man’.

Boy, is it likely to be loud. At the gala dinner on Wednesday, brilliant compere Justin Timberlake (best line: ‘I’m so into golf that the first time I heard them talk about a pop superstar obsessed with wearing a white glove, I assumed they meant me.’) was extolling the virtues of Europe’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal. Suddenly, a lone voice yelled: ‘Goin’ down, baby!’ It prompted an extended chorus of ‘USA! USA!’ that almost took the roof off.

That will be sweet music to the likes of Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, of course. The noisier the better as far as they are concerned. They are accustomed to playing in front of large, excitable crowds, and never happier than when someone lays down a challenge.

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Ryder Cup bingo!

Seven items to mark off on your card on day one…

6.01am
With the gates open, the first sighting of someone dressed head to toe in Stars and Stripes.

6.45am
The first chant of the ever-imaginative ‘USA, USA!’ Europe fans respond with football-style ditties.

7.20am
Players
arrive on the first tee, with the colour drained from their faces as
they are about to play golf’s most nerve-racking opening shot.

7.31am
The first annoying shout of ‘Get in the Hole!’ is heard on the first green.

8.30am
Initial sighting of Ian Poulter’s eyes bulging out on their stalks as he starts to get his putter going.

11.20am

Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal submit their afternoon pairings. Tactical geniuses or Captain Calamities

2.00pm

With the fourballs having gone off, the first reports come in of
European players being abused by the odd home supporter fresh from a
bibulous lunch.

But what about the unsung men on the
team, the honest souls who largely ply their trade in quiet corners of
the European Tour, where the galleries restrict themselves to a
smattering of applause and the odd moment of vocal encouragement

Look
back through the annals and the difference between winning and losing
often comes down to how these players rise to the challenge on Sunday.
They are usually ‘hidden’ somewhere in the middle of the order but there
is no hiding place when the fate of the Ryder Cup comes down to your
match.

Think back to how Eamonn Darcy met the challenge in 1987, Christy O’Connor Jnr in 1989, Philip Walton in 1995 and Paul McGinley in 2002. Europe’s destiny this weekend might well lie in how the unheralded continental members of this team handle the atmosphere.

Thank goodness the action is about to start, because frankly some of the players have not covered themselves in glory in the build-up. Yes, we know where Poulter and Brandt Snedeker are coming from. But do we really need to hear inflammatory rhetoric like ‘killing the opposition’ from Poulter, or ‘beating their brains in’ from Snedeker No prizes for phraseology, chaps.

Let us hope the partisanship does not
overstep the mark. Offering encouragement is the fact that Chicago is
undoubtedly one of the friendliest big cities in America. At the gala
dinner, Luke Donald got a wonderful hometown reception while the roar
that greeted McIlroy’s entrance was only a shade behind that afforded US
superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

The basics

The winner of each match
earns a point. There is half a point each if a match is halved. There
are 28 points on offer, so 14 points wins the cup. At 14-14, the
defending team (Europe) retain the cup.

Schedule

Friday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Saturday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Sunday — 12 singles matches.

Format

Fourballs
Two players on either side, four balls in play. The player with the lowest score wins the hole for his team.

Foursomes
Two
players on either side but only one ball is used by each pair as
players hit alternate shots. The team with the lowest score wins the
hole.

Singles
Captains list their players from 1 to 12. They then play against their opposite numbers.

But you can guarantee the likes of
Mickelson and Bubba Watson will be doing plenty of arm-waving, intent on
whipping up the atmosphere. They will want it every bit as
uncomfortable for the Europeans as it was for the Americans at Celtic
Manor.

Shadowing the proceedings, of course, will be the spectral presence of Seve Ballesteros in this, the first Ryder Cup since his death. It is a great sadness to those of us lucky enough to have witnessed Seve and Ollie’s great moments on the course that the pair are not walking in tandem off it here. But on this, the 25th anniversary of the first time they played together in the Ryder Cup, you can be sure the memory of Seve will be instilled in Olazabal’s every thought and deed.

‘What did I learn from Seve You
always try your hardest and you never, ever give in.’ You could see
Olazabal repeating that message in his final words to his team, couldn’t
you

And so the sporting
year that none of us really want to end has reached its final, great
occasion — and it is that time of a preview when a correspondent is
required to make a prediction. This one really is so close to call.
Europe have most of the best partnerships and America have the
formidable advantage of home soil.

Only
once in the last seven Ryder Cups has the home team not won, so that is
the scale of the task facing the away side. But, in the spirit of
Seve, let’s go with the heart.

Let’s go with Europe.

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

Rory McIlroy ready for FedEx Cup finale

In-from McIlroy won't rest on his laurels ahead of FedEx Cup finale

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UPDATED:

14:28 GMT, 10 September 2012

After three wins in his last four starts in America Rory McIlroy is entitled to his little chill out time in New York this week.

But then it will be back to business next week in Atlanta, where the 23-year-old Northern Irishman has a golden opportunity to land a jackpot worth over 7.15million.

Golf's undisputed world No 1 has already banked more than 2.7m in the past month – it works out at over 2,500 for each shot he has hit – but in money terms the big prize still lies ahead.

Winning feeling: Rory McIlroy has triumphed in his last two events in America

Winning feeling: Rory McIlroy has triumphed in his last two events in America

Having captured the second and third legs of the FedEx Cup play-offs McIlroy will head into the 30-man Tour Championship as firm favourite for the 6.25m bonus that goes to the winner of the four-tournament series.

And adding the event itself would earn him an additional 900,000 on the eve of the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

McIlroy now has six victories in the United States to his name – the same number that Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros managed in their entire careers.

Four have come this season, the latest a two-stroke triumph over cup team-mate Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson at the BMW Championship in Indiana on Sunday night.

This week will mostly be about recharging his batteries, but he also has planned a training session with the New York Knicks basketball team.

'I'm making the right decisions out there and everything is really just going to plan at the minute,' McIlroy said.

No 1: McIlroy extended his lead at the top of the world rankings

No 1: McIlroy extended his lead at the top of the world rankings

Those decisions included simply playing at Crooked Stick.

'Some suggested that I could have taken a week off and still could have been in the top five in the FedEx Cup standings going into Atlanta.

'But I felt like I was playing really well and didn't want to stop. I sort of picked up where I left off in Boston.

'It's a nice run to be on and I want to try and keep it going for as long as possible.

'I'm confident in my ability and confident with the shots that I'm hitting and confident on the greens.'

Tiger Woods, third and fourth the past fortnight and up to second in the world as a result, commented: 'He's doing the things he needs to do.

'Right now he's just really playing well and he's making a ton of putts. That's a great combo.

Ultimate: McIlroy celebrates with his caddie after winning the BMW Championship

Ultimate: McIlroy celebrates with his caddie after winning the BMW Championship

'He's a great player, he's playing great and he's going to be tough at East Lake. But we'll see – we've got 11 days or so to prepare.'

The FedEx Cup system means that the top five in the points standings – McIlroy, Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker – still go into the final play-off event knowing that a victory will make them the overall champion.

That seems slightly unfair on McIlroy, who actually built a lead of 3,232 points this weekend, but has it slashed to 250 points to make the series climax more exciting.

All 30 qualifiers still have a chance and last year saw Bill Haas come from 25th to take both the tournament and the FedEx Cup.

McIlroy is one of six Europeans left in. The others are Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Carl Pettersson.

Failing to make it into the 30, however, means two weeks off for Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter before the Ryder Cup, whereas American captain Davis Love will see all 12 of his side in action in Atlanta.

The Open 2011: Luke Donald taps into Nick Faldo wisdom

Donald taps into wisdom of Faldo as world No 1 goes in search of first major

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 16 July 2012

It always did seem extraordinary that no Englishman had called upon Sir Nick Faldo for advice on how to win a major championship.

Now it can be revealed that Luke Donald has corrected the anomaly by seeking the counsel of the six-time major winner in a bid to break his duck at The Open at Royal Lytham this week.

‘I’ve no ego on these matters, I just want to win one,’ said Donald.

Far-sighted: Donald has also consulted Jack Nicklaus

Far-sighted: Donald has also consulted Jack Nicklaus

In an interview with Sportsmail in April, Faldo expressed his surprise that not one of the English aspirants had contacted him.

‘I know I have a reputation of looking through people at times but – are you kidding – I’d love to help out,’ said Faldo at the time. ‘I want to see them join the club as much as anybody.’

During the hour they spent together at Jack Nicklaus’s tournament in Ohio, Faldo spoke words which struck such a chord with world No 1 Donald that he intends to put them into practice on Thursday.

‘We spoke for a long time about preparation and being meticulous, but for me it is now all about getting into a relaxed attitude and letting it happen,’ said Donald. ‘Nick explained that the way he went about it was by playing only shots he was comfortable with and, in a way, I went against that rule at the US Open.

Six of the best: Faldo has experience of winning majors

Six of the best: Faldo has experience of winning majors

‘I don’t feel comfortable hitting cut shots but I thought I needed to hit some that week.

‘All I ended up doing was getting my swing into a bad position leading up to the event and playing poorly during it.

‘I suppose I was aware of Nick’s approach, but it was nice to hear it coming from one of the guys who has done it and I’ll certainly be doing that at Lytham.’

Donald’s efforts to get over the line have now led him to seek out the best players of all time on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is a member of Nicklaus’s Bear’s Club in Florida and has spoken to him a number of times.

‘Jack has always been very gracious to me with his time,’ said the 34-year-old.

Seeking out these two pillars is a wise course of action, given that it is clearly a mental problem holding Donald back rather than a technical one.

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

No 1: Donald enjoys a practice round with Lee Westwood

Who better to consult to unlock the secret than two men with 24 major championships between them

The first thing Donald needs help with is getting off to a good start. As you might expect, given his studiousness, it came as no surprise to Donald to learn that he has not broken 70 in the first round of a major since the 2006 US PGA at Medinah.

‘I’ve thought about it a lot,’ he confessed. ‘In the first round of majors it’s all about having the right focus and not being too anxious. While that is hard to control, you should be able to figure it out with experience.

‘This time I’m trying to treat The Open like it is just another event.

‘I need to have the same mentality on Thursday at Lytham that I had on the first tee in the opening round at the Scottish Open last week.

‘I’m just trying to simplify it and concentrate on nothing more than getting off to a better start than in recent majors.’

Eyes on the prize: Donald says he is concentrating on 'simplifying' things

Eyes on the prize: Donald says he is concentrating on 'simplifying' things

The first two Grand Slam events this year saw Donald play for place money at Augusta and miss the halfway cut by some distance at the US Open.

‘After a couple of days I did stew on that last one for a little while,’ he admitted.

‘But the bottom line is it doesn’t matter if you finish down the field or miss some cuts if you win one. Get your name on the trophy and you put everything right.’

It is hard not to admire the way Donald stands patiently before each major and answers a barrage of questions built mainly around a well-worn and negative theme: why hasn’t he won one and when is he going to put it right

Seeking out Faldo can surely only help and don’t be surprised if they talk again before Thursday. ‘I know Nick is coming to Lytham and I am sure we will bump into one another,’ said Donald.

Lion of Lytham: Tony Jacklin remembers the glory days

Lion of Lytham: Best was in his pomp when Tony Jacklin became the last Englishman to lift the Claret Jug on home soil

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 15 July 2012

The lilac-clad leviathan of Lytham in 1969 is now a 68-year-old grandfather of 11, living peacefully in Florida and driving a bottle green Bentley with a number plate that is a permanent reminder of the cherished place he holds in the annals of British golf: Opens 2.

Time's inexorable passing means Tony Jacklin has to do a bit of selling these days, jogging people's memories of the days when Georgie Best was running down the wing and he was sending Henry Longhurst into raptures with his 'corking' drive down the 18th.

Putt for glory: Jacklin basks in the acclaim of the crowd after his Open win in 1969

Putt for glory: Jacklin basks in the acclaim of the crowd after his Open win in 1969

Twelve months after that, he won the US Open as well by the length of a par five and, for a short and glorious time, undoubtedly barged the Big Three to one side to become the best player in the world.

'You can't expect people to remember that far back if you don't help them along, can you' says Jacklin, cheerfully.

'There has to be a little reinvention.'

No-one of a certain vintage on this side of the Atlantic can forget, of course.

How could they, when you think The Open is returning to the Fylde coast this week with the host nation still awaiting another English winner in the land of St George

Place in the sun: Jacklin now lives in Florida

Place in the sun: Jacklin now lives in Florida

Jacko will be in attendance, doing some corporate work for the scotch whisky firm Glenmorangie and hoping his presence will prove a lucky omen.

He ended an 18-year wait for an English winner himself with his victory and now the gap since Sir Nick Faldo's last triumph at Muirfield in 1992 is even longer.

If truth be told, Jacklin can take or leave the first 54 holes of tournaments these days.

But Sunday afternoons remain times to spend in front of the television, relishing the human drama that is always played out over the final holes.

It is a reminder of the instincts that made him Europe's finest Ryder Cup captain and why he was so good at pairing up members of his team.

'I try to watch the end of every tournament because ultimately it's the human stuff that gets it done, not technique, and I enjoy all of that,' he said.

'I use to love it at the Ryder Cup. The pairings were the best part for me. I love watching the body language over the closing holes, because it tells you so much.

'Take Lee Westwood. I know he's not No 1 in the rankings but to me he is probably the best player in the world right now. But watch him closely towards the end of an event. For me, he doesn't let it all go, he gets in his own way a little bit.

'If he's going to make that extra step in the majors, he's going to have to find a way to relax and we know it is easier said than done.

'If it was that easy, he'd have won three or four already. But let's hope he makes it.'

As he goes through the UK runners and riders, it is clear who is the apple of his eye.

Does he see any similarities with himself in Rory McIlroy, another smooth swinger who punches well above his weight

'I can see a similar mentality in that he clearly wants to be the best player, as I did, but he's far stronger than I was, because it is easy to take diversions and waste a year or two of your life,' said Jacklin.

'I admire the fact he laid down the law to Chubby Chandler (his manager at the time) and told him he wanted to play in America, which was absolutely the right thing for him to do.

Winning smile: Jacklin receives an escort with the Claret Jug

Winning smile: Jacklin receives an escort with the Claret Jug

'It is what I should have done, instead of staying in Europe, which was all about my management company and suited their purposes rather than mine.

'It must be mind-blowing for these players competing for a million dollars every week and yet every time you listen to Rory he's only really interested in the majors, and I like that.

'He's got the game, too, we all know that. You never know how long you're going to have it for in this game, it takes enormous mental fortitude.

'But I like that he got to America and sought out Jack (Nicklaus) for his thoughts. I think Rory has that chance to be the dominant force for 10 years, like Tiger was and Tom Watson and Nicklaus.'

Ask Jacklin for a typical day in the life and it involves grandkids and grand designs, with plans for building courses worldwide.

Eldest son Bradley sells chemicals to high-end golf courses in south Florida. Second son Warren works in Germany as a pro while his daughter Tina lives in Singapore.

And then there's 20-year-old Sean, who plays the Tony Jacklin West Florida Golf Tour and might just possess a little of his dad's old magic.

Champ: Jacklin with the US Open trophy in 1970 along with wife Vivien and baby son Bradley

Champ: Jacklin with the US Open trophy in 1970 along with wife Vivien and baby son Bradley

Next week, while his old man tees it up at the British Senior Open at Turnberry, Sean will make his debut on the European Challenge Tour.

'It seems like only yesterday he was asking me when he would get his “man strength” and now here he is, hitting the ball off the planet like the rest of them,' says Jacklin.

'He's a really good player, too. He turned pro last summer after leaving college and he's won a couple of mini-tour events, but it is so difficult to get on the main tours these days.

'I can help him with the human side of the game because that never changes, the determination, discipline and desire, that window of time you have to prove yourself, so don't screw it up. But you need luck as well, so we will see how he gets on.'

What does he remember of his own window of time and particularly that wondrous summer of '69

'The main thing was that I was ready to win,' he said.

'I had become the first Brit to win on the US Tour in Jacksonville the year before and I couldn't have taken on the pressure without that. I remember turning up and the reaction of the galleries was exciting. People talk about the burden of expectation, but I found it uplifting.

'This will make people laugh. I remember the whipping (binding) came off the head of (his playing partner) Bob Charles's driver at the 13th and he was wondering about getting it repaired. So I said, “Give it to me”, I got a knife and I repaired it in about 90 seconds flat!

'The hardest thing, of course, was not letting my mind wander ahead – whether in an hour's time the secretary of the Royal and Ancient was going to declare me the champion golfer of the year.

'I was continually telling myself, “Stop it!” It really is a place you simply cannot afford to go.

'When we got to the 18th, Bob drove first and I remember him saying his tee shot was going to finish in a bunker, but I knew bloody well that it wasn't! Was it a ploy to make me think I'd won It was certainly a reminder you've always got to keep your wits about you.

'Anyway, I kept the same thoughts I'd had a thousand times before – to swing it wide and smooth – and of course I hit the drive of my life.'

What price some UK player hitting the drive of his life this week

Jacko will be watching and waiting and hoping.

London 2012 Olympics: Stuart Pearce was right to leave out David Beckham: Martin Samuel

Psycho Pearce He's not as mad as he seems (Still as brave, though)

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UPDATED:

01:23 GMT, 29 June 2012

They call him Psycho, but on Thursday Stuart Pearce was revealed as the sanest man in the country.

Given the opportunity to turn Great Britain’s Olympic football team into one man’s farewell tour, he resisted. He knows the pressure it will place him under. He knows the celebrity-obsessed will never forgive him.

He took all this on board, and he still didn’t care. He did what was right. He decided to give this competition his best shot. And Pearce’s best shot this summer does not include David Beckham.

Games over: Beckham will not be competing for Team GB

Games over: Beckham will not be competing for Team GB

Already there is a predictable chorus of protest. After all he has done! How dare they treat him like this Treat him like what, exactly Treat him like a footballer Isn’t that what Beckham wanted all along

‘I don’t want to be picked to sell shirts or as a stadium filler,’ Beckham said. ‘I want to be in because of what I can bring to the team.’ And that was precisely how Pearce (below) called it. He refused to take the easy way out and, in doing so, showed Beckham considerably more respect than if he had chosen him for old time’s sake.

Bold move: Stuart Pearce decided not to take Beckham to the Olympics

Bold move: Stuart Pearce decided not to take Beckham to the Olympics

TWITTER ON BECKHAM

Pearce makes some stupid decisions, no beckham in gb Team, clueless! ROBBIE SAVAGE

Terrible shame for Beckham having given so much to to the Olympic bid and football. GARY LINEKER

Disappointed to see Stuart Peace trying to make a name for himself #poor DANNY CIPRIANI

Oh no! Pearce chose the GB team on merit, not celebrity status. How shameful! PIERS MORGAN

What no Beckham!!! Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Pauls… Becks #nationalattractions! SIR NICK FALDO

Jack Nicklaus said he would stop competing at major tournaments the day he felt he was a ceremonial golfer. Some old guy standing on the first tee to feed a pleasant mood of nostalgia. He always thought he was there to compete, to at least make the cut.

Yet what would Beckham have been this summer, if not a ceremonial presence How could he possibly be one of the three best over-age players from the British Isles, as a 37-year-old in an inferior league

To put Beckham in for helping win the Olympics, for long service, for being a good ambassador, for possessing a winning smile and a charming manner, for shaking hands with everyone from FIFA president Sepp Blatter to the gentlemen of the IOC without shuddering, that would be ill treatment.

Everybody knows that to include Beckham would not be a football decision. So Pearce showed him immense respect. He went to America on two occasions, watching three games. And then he judged what he saw against the pool of talent available.

No fairytale: Beckham will not be at the Olympics as part of Team GB

No fairytale: Beckham will not be at the Olympics as part of Team GB

He did not ignore Beckham or, worse, select him without even looking — which would have been confirmation that this was a political decision. He treated him like men 10 years younger.

Bums on seats: that is what Beckham was going to bring to the Olympic football tournament, yet true football fans are more likely to pay attention now.

The Golden 'Oldies'

With the inclusion of Micah Richards, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs as Britain’s senior players, Team GB footballers have got serious. Had Beckham been picked instead it would have felt like showbusiness.

Indeed, this Team GB squad could set a precedent. Any British Under 21 team qualifying for the Olympics — a top-three finish at the European Under 21 Championship in 2011 was the criteria this time — could be allowed to compete under the umbrella of Great Britain, and pick three over-age players accordingly.

That would not have been possible had Team GB’s fixtures turned into a glorified testimonial, a one-off. Psycho deserves our thanks; he is not as mad as he seems.

Still as brave, though.

MASTERS 2012: Rory McIlroy will live in a bubble at Augusta

McIlroy will 'live inside a bubble' at Augusta to prevent another Masters meltdown

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 30 March 2012

Rory McIlroy has revealed he will cut himself off from the outside world in his bid for Augusta redemption after taking the advice of another man who knows what it's like to suffer a Masters meltdown.

McIlroy famously looked set for glory last year when he took a four-shot lead into the final round only to shoot a nightmare 80 to help hand the green jacket to South Africa's Charl Schwartzel.

There followed a lot of soul-searching for the then 21-year-old Northern Irishman en route to his much-heralded maiden major at the US Open at Congressional two months later.

He's got game: World No 2 Rory McIlroy at work for EA Sports

He's got game: World No 2 Rory McIlroy at work for EA Sports

And he revealed a key part of his recovery was the advice offered by Norman, who suffered his own implosion at Augusta in 1996 when his final-day 78 gifted Nick Faldo his third Masters title.

'I've only met Greg a handful of times but he's always one of the first to text me or call me after a win,' said McIlroy. 'He's very generous with his time and always goes out of his way to say congratulations. He's just a genuinely nice guy.

'He reached out to me after Augusta last year which was a really nice thing to do. He gave me some advice which I thought were really valuable. I took it into practice and it has definitely worked for me.

'He told me about creating this little bubble around myself in the week of the tournament. You don't read magazines, or newspapers and you don't watch TV.

'You just try and separate yourself from everything and focus on the task in hand, which is the golf.

Embarrassed: McIlroy on the 11th green

Embarrassed: McIlroy on the 11th green

'It's something I've tried to put into practise since last year. I haven't been going on twitter or reading the papers or watching TV in the run-up to events and that has worked, so I'll be trying to adopt the same approach.'

McIlroy sounded in buoyant mood as he approached his return to the scene of the biggest of golfing nightmares. Winning that maiden major makes all the difference, of course, but he still sounded like a young man well up for both the mental and sporting challenge lying ahead next week.

'For 63 holes last year, I led the tournament. It was just those nine holes that everyone concentrated on,' he explained.

'I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to control my emotions a little better. I learned what works for me best whenever I get into situations like that. I was able to put that right a couple of months later when I won the US Open. It is not like I have not learned from it. It would just be great to put myself in that position again and challenge myself and see if I am up to the test.'

So was there a specific point last year he knew his attempt at a first major was about to unravel And how will he feel when he walks on to the 10th tee, where it all went horribly wrong

'The whole of the Sunday felt a little different,' revealed the world No 2. 'I was almost trying to be this person that I wasn't. Sort of ultra-focused, tunnel vision, whatever you want to call it.

Off the map: Rory McIlroy hit his tee shot on the 10th miles off target

Off the map: Rory McIlroy hit his tee shot on the 10th miles off target

'I hit a great shot off the first and had a little wedge into the first green and I remember on the top of my backswing and on the way down, I said to myself “don't go left”. That was the first really tentative swing I had made the whole week. That was when I felt it was completely different from the first three days.

'At Amen Corner there are bound to be some emotions to deal with. When I step onto the 10th tee the memories will come flooding back – you wouldn't be human if that didn't happen. You can't just block them out. So it's not a bad thing to go there early and get that stuff out of the way, so you can concentrate on the tournament.

'I think the main thing about Augusta is going up there and re-familiarising yourself with the course, and making sure you have sussed it out the best you can, seeing if there have been any little changes. I feel like I've been playing pretty well and I've been hitting the ball great in practice, so I think I just need to keep doing that.'

If that's not enough to be thinking about, there is also the return of a certain prowling Tiger. But McIlroy sounded like the four-time winner's upturn in form is merely one of many challenges.

Just champion: McIlroy with US Open trophy

Just champion: McIlroy with US Open trophy

He said: 'I think having Tiger playing well is definitely a great thing for golf. He produces excitement and interest that no-one else can.

'But for me personally, it doesn't do anything. I just have to concentrate on myself.'

McIlroy was talking as part of his promotion for the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game, which is out now. For the second time in three years he appears on the box of the EA Sports title, and it's a relationship he says he wants to continue.

'It's a great feeling to walk past a shop and see yourself on the front cover of a game that you've played since you were a kid,' he said. 'It's a nice accomplishment and hopefully I can stay on the cover of the game for a lot longer!

'When you play the game, I think you have to play as yourself so the more realistic you can make it the better! I really enjoyed the motion capture session and the likeness is really good on the game. The swing is very similar to mine.

'I think the game gives the general public a great opportunity to see all of Augusta. When you watch it on TV, you only see a few of the holes but this give you an opportunity to see the whole course and, when it's as realistic as it is, it gives a real sense of what Augusta's like with the huge elevation changes.'

Rory McIlroy stars in EA SPORTS Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 which is out NOW on Kinect, Xbox 360 and PS3. Order your copy at www.amazon.co.uk or visit www.ea.com/uk/tiger-woods for more information.

Nick Dougherty loses European Tour card

Three-time winner Dougherty loses European Tour card

Three-time winner Nick Dougherty has failed to retain his European Tour card after missing the cut at the qualifying school in Spain on Tuesday.

Dougherty, a protege of Sir Nick Faldo, has struggled with his form since his last victory, the BMW International Open in Munich in 2009, and failed to beat the four-under-par mark, the lowest 72-hole cut in the history of the qualifying school.

England”s Sam Hutsby leads the way at the PGA Catalunya Resort on 16 under with 36 holes to play. Others to miss the cut included Paul Broadhurst, Simon Wakefield, Jarmo Sandelin and Phillip Archer.

Fall from grace: Dougherty has failed to retain his European Tour card

Fall from grace: Dougherty has failed to retain his European Tour card

Luke Donald named PGA Tour player of the year

More success for Donald as Briton is named PGA Tour player of the year

England”s Luke Donald was named the PGA Tour player of the year.

Golf”s world No 1, the first player to win the US and European money lists in the same season, said: “That”s a great honour to cap off what has obviously been an amazing year.”

He becomes only the second Englishman to win the award, the first being Sir Nick Faldo in 1990.

Luke at that: Donald has been named the PGA Tour player of the year

Luke at that: Donald has been named the PGA Tour player of the year