LONDON (Reuters) - Former European Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin believes Argentine Angel Cabrera’s win at the U.S. Open last Sunday was a victory for golf over psychobabble.
“I was thrilled he won,” Jacklin told Reuters while competing at the London Seniors Masters in Kent.
“All this fantastic technology that’s around, all these psychologists and swing gurus, and here is a guy coming out on top who smokes cigarettes and smashes the ball a mile.”
Jacklin offered up the Oakmont triumph of the portly Cabrera as proof that simplicity is the key to success.
“I hope some of these young golfers, although I’m not talking about the smoking now, can take something from this and realise the whole business (of golf) is being fed by all this rubbish,” said the 62-year-old.
“There is so much information out there these days, so many people on the periphery of the game trying to get heard, trying to make a living.
“There is nothing wrong with trying to make a living from the game but golf is a simple game. The core of it is not complicated.”
Jacklin, who won the 1969 British Open and the U.S. Open a year later, said there was a danger of the modern player being blinded by science.
“I was fortunate to play with Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and they all learned by watching other golfers,” said the Englishman.
“They questioned some things, for sure, but now they are given so much information, there are many opportunities for young people to go in the wrong direction.
“They (on the periphery) are all salesmen, all trying to sell you their story, their method, their thing. It’s the most important thing happening today but you’ve still got to get the ball in the hole, hit it down the fairway. It’s simple stuff.”
Jacklin, who also plans to compete in next month’s British Open and British Seniors Open, said the most important facet of Cabrera’s first major victory was his self belief.
“It’s pure and simple, coming into the last nine holes of a major championship you must believe you can do it,” he said.
“Not who your coach is, or whether you swing the club this way, or that. It’s about getting the job done.”
Jacklin, who captained Europe’s Ryder Cup team four times, said South African Gary Player was the perfect example of a player who achieved greatness largely because of his mental strength.
“I was with (former U.S. Ryder Cup player) Doug Sanders the other day. He told me that in the 1950s when Player had just arrived in America, he had told him he was going to win all the majors, and of course he did.
“Player was probably the single best example of mind over matter, of going out and getting the job done. He didn’t have the ability to hit the ball that far, he was a small man, but he worked on his physique and became a champion.”
Jacklin was also critical of the amount of tournament golf played these days.
“A lot of these kids are burned out by 18,” he said. “They have heard so much rubbish, they get bored with it.
“Jack (Nicklaus) said to me a year ago, ‘if I was out here now, I’d get bored with it’. Jack used to play for two weeks, go off and do different things and then come back refreshed and able to focus on his game with enthusiasm.
“How can you be enthusiastic when you play 30-35 tournaments a year, hitting balls all the time, unless you’re a robot?”