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One of the most famous moments in Ryder Cup history is the inspiration for a new award to be handed out at the biennial competition.
In 1969 at Royal Birkdale, Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin played the final hole of their singles match with the Ryder Cup on the line. Whoever won the hole, won the cup for their team. Nicklaus made a lengthy par putt to ensure at least a halve, which also assure the Americans, who had won in ’67, of retaining the cup.
Should Jacklin have missed his shorter par putt, the U.S. won have won outright. But Nicklaus wasn’t about to let that happen. He picked up Jacklin’s coin, and the match and competition ended in a tie.
That moment of sportsmanship has been honored with the inaugural Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon. The award will be presented to one player on both the U.S. and European teams, “who best embody the spirit of the event: seeing the bigger picture and making decisions critical to sportsmanship, teamwork and performance at the Ryder Cup,” as stated in a press release.
The recipients of the award will be selected by a committee consisting of Jack Nicklaus; Tony Jacklin; other past European and U.S. Ryder Cup captains; representatives from Sky Sports and NBC Sports; and Carlo Clavarino, executive chairman, International Business, Aon.
“The excitement and energy surrounding the Ryder Cup always tests your poise, composure and decision-making, and when it matters most,” said Nicklaus, a two-time Ryder Cup captain and six-time team member. “I’m glad to see that everyone involved in the Ryder Cup is identifying the importance of the choices these players make in the heat of competition and on one of golf’s biggest stages, and that they are recognizing and celebrating individuals who approach this competition with the proper spirit and who put an emphasis on good will and camaraderie.”
Said four-time European team captain Jacklin: “There’s always a decision that defines you in the Ryder Cup and to have an award that also highlights that decision is innovative for the game of golf and the Ryder Cup.”