That week has to go down as the best of my golfing life but, for two separate reasons, it could all have turned out so differently.
First, it is hard to believe that there was a move to replace stars like Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo in my European team. Second, a group unknown club professionals joined me.
After we won the 1985 Belfry Cup for the first-time in 28 years, everything seemed to have changed. It was a case of ‘ka-ching, ka-ching’ because the British PGA now wanted more of the proceeds generated.
It got to the point where they threatened to send a team of British club pros to defend the trophy at Muirfield Village — it was that ridiculous.
The PGA demanded a 50-50 split of the proceeds. I argued for a 60-40 split in favour of the European Tour, and that was when PGA president Lord Derby turned around and said, “You’ve upset me.”
I said that I was sorry, but there’s no way the PGA should get 50 per ncent. Deep down, I believed they were entitled to 40.
Although the European Tour players were not involved in the debates, the Ryder Cup is always a part of my mind.
My team was out at The Belfry 1985 giving their all and putting up their lives. In the end we settled on an acceptable 60-40 split but I’m not sure Lord Derby ever forgave me.
The PGA knew it was about money at that point, seeing how the Ryder Cup had taken off.
It was so many European players who had made it to the top. It wouldn’t have been fair to the likes of Seve, Langer and later, Henrik Stenson, not to benefit from the competition.
The Tour allowed me to do as I pleased. They gave me power. I insisted on a 60-40 split. The Tour supported me.
I played in seven Ryder Cups as a player and money never entered my head. When I was captain, it was the same. I can’t recall talking about money to any of my team during my time in charge.
I think we got about £2,000 in expenses back then and for the players, it was all about the matches.
Nowadays, the Ryder Cup is probably worth £100 million in total revenue. It’s a massive event. It’s grown to be so unbelievably successful, and everyone is so passionate about it.
A second reason that the week could have gone sour for me is that I would not have taken part in the event if European Tour had refused to comply with the demands of PGA of America.
I wasn’t surprised in the least to hear three or four months after our victory at The Belfry that the Americans requested a change of format.
They always want to win, win, win — coming second doesn’t mean a jot to them.
After many years of being battered we found a schedule that allowed us to compete. Now they want to shuffle the cards.
Money was driving the Americans on, too. They wanted to extend the Ryder Cup from three days to four, knowing that this would bring in more revenue.
When they informed me of their intention to change the format, my response was clear and unambiguous. I told the European Tour, “I’m gone if you agree to that, I’ll resign as captain.”
The Tour, to their credit, backed me 100 per cent. We stood firm despite the fact that the PGA of America was holding dollar signs in their faces. We gave them an outright ‘no’ and the issue was never raised in my company again.
- Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey’, published by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, is available online from Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and other leading outlets. Price £9.99.