Tony Jacklin fears Worksop’s Lee Westwood is running out of time to win his first major as his fellow Englishman continues to strive for the one thing missing from an enviable career.
In the last five-and-a-half-years the former world number one has consistently knocked on the door with seven finishes no worse than joint-third and three other top-10s.
Westwood has won a total of 39 tournaments worldwide and is a veteran of eight Ryder Cups but has yet to join golf’s elite.
He turned 40 in April and 1969 Open champion Jacklin fears the clock is ticking for the golfer, who relocated to America last year in a bid to improve his chances.
“Well I don’t think it gets easier as you get older, let’s put it that way,” the 69-year-old former Ryder Cup captain told Press Association Sport ahead of The Open at Muirfield which starts today.
“I got it done when I was 25 and I’m grateful for that.
“The older you are the more stuff happens and scars you a little bit, maybe.
“Lee’s had a few opportunities and wasn’t able to quite bring it home.
“He’s such a great player, a well-rounded player, and if he putts well at Muirfield then I think he’ll go very, very close indeed.
“He’s certainly got a great chance. But time is not on his side any more.”
Jacklin’s feat of being the only English winner of the US Open in 43 years was eventually matched by Justin Rose last month and the veteran believes that landmark win can inspire a generation of Englishmen who have so far underachieved in majors.
“There’s no doubt that there is a trickle-down effect from all of that,” he said.
“Guys get inspired. We’ve just seen Paul Casey, who has been in the doldrums for the past two years and has had personal problems, show great form at the Irish Open the other week and he got it done there.
“I think that was due, at least in part, to Justin Rose’s win at the US Open.
“It can absolutely have an effect on the other English lads. Ian Poulter has got it all to do - none of these guys have got majors yet and they’ll realise as they get older that majors are what it’s all about.
“There’s a lot of money in golf today and it’s easy to get derailed from your ideals and what you set out to do.
“Majors will always be the important part of being a professional golfer.
“Looking back at a career that’s got no majors is...well I’m just glad I don’t have to do that.
“I’m just grateful for the two I have and they are still the two most important tournaments in the game.”
Jacklin, a patron of the English Deaf Golf Association, hit the ceremonial first tee shot at the EDGA’s Open last week and gave a coaching clinic to members, revealing he has struggled with hearing problems for many years.
“I’ve been hard of hearing for almost 30 years now,” he said. “It affects the way you play golf; you don’t hear the swish of the club or the strike of the ball as well. When you putt, you don’t hear the putter hitting the ball.
“All these things affect how you approach the game.”