When Tony Jacklin held his arms aloft on the 18th green at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1969, few could have imagined he would be the last English winner of The Open in England for at least half a century.

But 50 years have passed since Jacklin reigned supreme on his home turf and 20 opportunities for another Englishman to repeat his feat have since fallen by the wayside.

There has been an English winner in the years since Jacklin’s triumph, with Nick Faldo claiming the Champion Golfer crown on three occasions during his illustrious career.

He was unable to replicate his Claret Jug success in England, though, with his hat-trick of victories all coming north of the border in Scotland – leaving Jacklin as the last man to join the exclusive club.

Yet with the announcement that The Open will return to Royal St George’s in 2020, the best English golfers in the game will once again have a chance to write their name in the history books.


Jacklin’s victory at The 98th Open was not just notable for him winning as an Englishman in his own country, it also took on greater significance for British golfers.

The then 25-year-old from Scunthorpe also ended Britain’s drought at The Open as he became the first home winner of Claret Jug for 18 years on the Lancashire coast.

It was the breakthrough Britain had been waiting for since Max Faulkner came out on top in 1951 at Royal Portrush – where The Open will return for only a second time in 2019.

Jacklin had come close to winning his maiden major title two years earlier when he finished fifth at The Open in 1967, but he made no mistake at Lytham, which was hosting for a fifth time.

New Zealander Bob Charles had won the Claret Jug at the same course in 1963 and was looking in good shape to do it again as he led the way following the opening two rounds.

But Jacklin was always lurking and hit the front for the first time after a third round of 70, before a 72 in his final round proved enough for a two-shot victory over Charles.


While Jacklin was the last Englishman to win in England, he is by no means the only one to do so, with a number of players rising to the challenge before World War Two.

Reg Whitcombe was the most recent English player before Jacklin to win in his own backyard, clinching the Claret Jug after withstanding gale force winds at Royal St George’s in 1938.

His victory was at the back-end of a period of dominance for English golfers, who retained the Champion Golfer crown for six consecutive years between 1934 and 1939.

Of those wins by Englishmen, only Alf Padgham and Henry Cotton joined Whitcombe in doing so on home soil as they prevailed at Royal Liverpool and Royal St George’s, respectively.

Five-time Champion Golfer John Henry “J.H.” Taylor also achieved the feat on three occasions, winning at Royal St George’s in 1894, Royal Cinque Ports in 1909 and Royal Liverpool in 1913.

And amateur Harold Hilton, a two-time Champion Golfer, had been the second Englishman to win on an English course in 1897 when he lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake.


So just how close have Englishmen come to emulating Jacklin and the legends who went before him?

There have been a number of near misses for England’s finest at The Open in the years since the World Golf Hall of Famer became Champion Golfer in Lancashire 50 years ago.

Peter Oosterhuis came close to matching Jacklin when The Open returned to Royal Lytham in 1974, but the Claret Jug ultimately ended up in the hands of South African Gary Player.

A twice runner-up at The Open, Oosterhuis finished alone in second, four shots behind The Black Knight as Player was crowned Champion Golfer for a third and final time in his career.

Faldo was also a three-time Champion Golfer and seemed destined to win a fourth as he attempted to defend his title at Royal St George’s in 1993, but great rival Greg Norman denied him with a stunning final round of 64 at Sandwich.

Another close call came at Royal Birkdale five years later as a then unknown Justin Rose, just 17 at the time, defied the odds to finish in a tie for fourth as an amateur – holing out his final iron shot on the 18th to clinch the Silver Medal.

Ian Poulter is the most recent Englishman to come close to dethroning Jacklin, finishing runner-up to Padraig Harrington as the Irishman successfully defended his title at Royal Birkdale in 2008.


As the current world number one, Rose will be a prime contender to win on home soil when The Open is hosted by Royal St George’s for a 15th time in 2020.

Rose achieved his best finish at The Open since his amateur exploits 20 years earlier when he ended in a four-way tie for second place at Carnoustie last year.

The 37-year-old had to make a birdie at 18 on Friday just to make the cut but he delivered a sterling weekend performance – including a 64 on Saturday – to come second behind Francesco Molinari.

Tommy Fleetwood is another who has become accustomed to being touted as a favourite to lift the Claret Jug following his rapid climb up the rankings.

He enjoyed his best-ever performance in five Open appearances at Carnoustie last year, finishing in a tie for 12th, and the Southport golfer will be another English contender in Sandwich.

Elsewhere, Matthew Southgate singled himself out as one to watch in the future with a top-10 finish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, where Poulter also impressed again as he finished in a tie for 14th.

Expect both to be in the mix come 2020 along with stars such as Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Wallace, with the latter demonstrating his potential with three wins on the European Tour last year.

Then there’s the charismatic figure of Eddie Pepperell, who finished in a tie for sixth at Carnoustie in just his second Open appearance after shooting a closing 67 to shoot up the leaderboard.

Pepperrell would certainly be a popular home winner if he lifted the Claret Jug at St George’s, while Matt Fitzpatrick and former Silver Medal winner Chris Wood also deserve to be in the conversation.

Finally, veterans Paul Casey and Lee Westwood are both searching for their maiden major title – and what a story it would be if one of the two English favourites broke their duck at Royal St George’s.

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