The 1969 Ryder Cup at England’s Royal Birkdale Golf Club featured legends like Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Peter Alliss and U.S. Captain Sam Snead. While the U.S. Team retained the Cup, history remembers that week not just for the final score, but for one admirable act of sportsmanship that illustrated the power of better decisions that are made with clarity and confidence in the most critical moments.
Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Jacklin on the final hole of the deciding match, assuring that the two teams finished in a 16-16 tie. Now remembered as ‘The Concession,’ Nicklaus’ gesture ensured the first tie in Ryder Cup history.
Nicklaus did not want Jacklin, a national hero after winning that year’s Open Championship, to face the possibility of a costly miscue in that crucial situation.
Jack Nicklaus, statements
“I don't believe you would have missed that, but I’d never give you the opportunity in these circumstances,” Nicklaus said.
The United States retained the Cup but Nicklaus faced criticism from those who felt he should have made Jacklin hit the putt. Nicklaus’ act marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two champions, and is remembered as one of the greatest gestures of sportsmanship in the game’s history.
In celebration of this great act, the PGA of America, Ryder Cup Europe and Aon are rolling out a first-of-its-kind award this week at Whistling Straits. The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon will go to the player from each team who sees the bigger picture and who makes better decisions critical to sportsmanship, teamwork and performance.
At the conclusion of the Ryder Cup, a committee headed by Mr. Nicklaus and Mr. Jacklin will name the first recipients of the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award. The selection committee will also include past Ryder Cup Captains Paul Azinger and Paul McGinley; Executive Chaiman International Business at Aon, Carlo Clavarino; as well as representatives from the PGA of America and PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, Jim Richerson and Alan White, respectively.
Ryder Cup history is filled with instances of teamwork, sportsmanship, and of course, elite performance that are worthy of recognition. The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon brings all of those key traits of the Ryder Cup together, highlighting the players who most embody the spirit of this great event.
So, what are some historical performances that demonstrate the clarity, confidence and proper decision-making that the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon hopes to highlight? Let’s revisit some below. Te fed off each other. It was wonderful”.