When the Great Jack Nicklaus Shocked the Golf World With His Iconic ‘Concession’

Published 09/20/2022, 9:32 AM EDT

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No one has more Major titles than Jack Nicklaus. With 18 Majors to his name, Nicklaus became a household name in the world of golf. Although the golfer has many iconic winning moments on the golf course, several fans and golfers regard his 1969 Ryder Cup concession as one of the most remarkable moments in the sport. Let’s take a look at the background and what led to Jack Nicklaus giving way a match play win in the Ryder Cup.

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Team USA had won 12 of the 13 contests leading to the 1969 Ryder Cup. During that period, the British golfers were undergoing a Major drought. Max Faulkner’s victory at the Open Championship in 1951 was the last until 1969 when Tony Jacklin finally won the 1969 Open Championship.

Though Jacklin came to the Ryder Cup with a fresh Major win, the American Team was also stacked with some of the greats such as Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, and the team led by Sam Snead. Nonetheless, Jacklin and Nicklaus faced each other in the final anchor match of the tournament to determine the winner. So who came out on top?

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Jack Nicklaus’ greatest sportsmanship

Before the final hole of the event between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, both teams were tied at 15.5 points each. Nicklaus was ahead of his British competitor until the 17th hole when Jacklin scored an eagle to determine the winner in the final hole.

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With a par 4, both men hit the green in regulation. Jacklin left his putt two feet short, with Nicklaus sending his four and a half feet by. The 18-time Major winner holed his second hole. Nicklaus then picked up the ball from the hole and also Tony Jacklin’s market and walked off the 18th with hands wrapped around the British golfer. It was the first tie ever in Ryder Cup history.

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Nonetheless, Team USA retained the Ryder Cup since they were the defending champions. Speaking later, Jack Nicklaus said, “I don’t know why but I very quickly thought about Tony Jacklin and what he had meant to British golf. Here he was, the Open champion, the new hero, and all of a sudden it felt like if he missed this putt he would be criticised forever”.

After showing so much respect to his competitor, Nicklaus added what went through his mind. He said, “’I’m not going to give Tony Jacklin the opportunity to miss it. I think we walk off of here, shake hands and have a better relationship between the two golfing organisations is the right way to do it’.

Though many considered it an excellent sportsmanship act, Team USA’s captain Sam Snead was disappointed with Nicklaus’ actions. With such a great show of respect, it was quite apparent that the Golden Bear’s great deed would not be ignored.

The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award

52 years after the iconic golf moment, the Ryder Cup decided to honor the legends with a sportsmanship award. Ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup, the Nicklaus-Jacklin award was created to give to the man with the best sportsmanship.

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The committee team consists of Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, past European and US Ryder Cup Captains, Aon’s Carlo Clavarino, and representatives from Sky Sports and NBC Sports. They decide on the players who have shown sportsmanship, teamwork, and performance.

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It’s not every day we get to witness such a legendary moment in the world of sports. Moreover, a moment related to positive sportsmanship is a rare sight in today’s generation. Nonetheless, considering the greatness of Nicklaus, this just adds more sparks to his evergreen legacy and greatness.

What do you think of Golden Bear’s great gesture? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Watch This Story: How Many Kids and Grandkids Does Jack Nicklaus Have?

 

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Written by:

Abdul Bari Khan

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Abdul Bari is a Golf writer at EssentiallySports. Having completed his Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Abdul is currently pursuing his Master’s in the same. With great affection for the world of sports, this avid golf lover turned to the course at a young age.
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Edited by:

Manaal Siddiqui

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