His double major winner father Tony won at nearby Kimberly over 47 years ago, and now Sean Jacklin is playing in the 2015 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club.
Tony Jacklin won the Open Championship in 1969 by two strokes from the New Zealand left-hander Bob Charles, and the US Open the following year by a yawning seven shots from American Dave Hill. Before that, he won in Kimberly in 1966.
Son Sean, 23, is now taking some of his father’s advice as he tries his hand at gaining one of 30 Sunshine Tour cards up for grabs.
After a year on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica last year, during which he made six cuts in his 11 tournaments, finishing in the top 10 once, and three times in the top 25, he is looking for a batter way to get to that next stage in his professional career which began when he was 19.
“When my dad turned pro at 19, he came out to South Africa for about eight weeks by himself,” says Jacklin, “and he missed six of the eight cuts, went home with 50 quid, and it was a learning experience.
“He came back the next year and played well in the events and got the experience. That was like his stepping stone, and we just thought that this would be a good opportunity,” he adds.
He grabbed the chance early on, opening with a three-under-par 69 at Bloefontein Golf Club, before heading over to Schoeman Park for his next two rounds, and then back again for the fourth. At that point, there will be a cut to the top 60 players and those tying on the score, and then, on Saturday, those players will do battle for the 30 cards.
“Right now, the goal is simply to get the card and see where I stand when I do,” says Jacklin. “I’m here primarily to get into the bigger events. I want to get to those co-sanctioned events because if I played the whole of the Sunshine Tour, I’d be doing the same thing as I did on the Latinoamerica Tour last year. That would be a good experience, but not really getting to where I want to be. Getting world status, and getting my ranking to where you get invitations – I feel if I keep plugging away, eventually some doors will open.”
With four rounds ahead of him, and with experience at some other qualifying schools, he’s acutely aware that there is a lot of work still ahead of him. “My dad keeps on saying that I need to be aware that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he says.
“I actually thought Schoeman Park would be easier, so I’m really looking forward to the next couple of days.”
Tony Jacklin was something of a globetrotter: He won eight events on the European Tour between its first season in 1972 and 1982. He also won tournaments in Europe prior to the European Tour era, and in the United States, South America, South Africa and Australasia. His 1968 PGA Tour win at the Jacksonville Open Invitational was the first by a European player on the US Tour since the 1920s; Jacklin was the first British player since the 1940s and Henry Cotton to devote much of his effort to American Tour events.
If Sean gets his Sunshine Tour card in Bloemfontein, it might be the start of another chapter of Jacklin globetrotting.