Following the conclusion of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, where the US Team won by a record-breaking margin on 19-9, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were named the inaugural recipients of the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon.
Both players were recognised as those who best embodied the spirit of the famous 1969 concession, when Jack Nicklaus conceded a 2-foot putt to Tony Jacklin for a halved match that resulted in the first tie in Ryder Cup history.
This new award commemorates sportsmanship, teamwork and performance in the context of better decision-making. These three attributes that were brought to the forefront by Johnson and Garcia also reflect Aon’s values and commitment to helping clients shape business decisions for the better.
Johnson, 37, arrived at the Ryder Cup as the oldest player on the US team and through remarkable teamwork in his partnerships with two rookies in Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, he performed brilliantly to become the first American to win a maximum five points since Larry Nelson in 1979. Johnson, playing in his fifth Ryder Cup, is the fifth player to win all five matches in a single Ryder Cup, joining Arnold Palmer (1967), Gardner Dickinson (1967), Larry Nelson (1979) and Francesco Molinari (2018).
“It’s a dream to go 5-0-0 in a Ryder Cup,” said Johnson. “For the first four matches, I had great partners in Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele. We played great together and gelled really well. I am so proud of my teammates and my captains and loved the help from the fans. This award is something to be very proud of. All 12 of us showed great teamwork and came together as a team.”
Making his 10th appearance for the European Team, Garcia showcased teamwork and performance through the Thursday and Friday matches alongside fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm. Garcia and Rahm were the first European tandem since 1987 to trail 3-down through three holes and eventually win their match. Garcia and Rahm’s teamwork resulted in victories in all three of their matches.
Garcia exemplified the love of his team with his comments and encouragement of teammate Rory McIlroy on Saturday, “I told him the absolute truth. I told him that not only me but the whole team is proud of him no matter if he goes 5-0 or 0-5; that we love him and that we are always proud of the effort that he makes and the heart that he puts into his golf and into the team. It’s as simple as that.”
During Friday’s Foursomes match, Garcia made the decision to go for the green from 244 yards on the par-5 16th hole for what would be a memorable shot enroute to winning a point. With Garcia’s 3-1-0 record for the week, he became the all-time Ryder Cup leader in overall wins (24), overall points (27.5) and foursomes wins (12).
“I love the Ryder Cup,” Garcia said. “We all know about the beautiful moment that happened more than 50 years ago between Nicklaus and Jacklin. I’m proud to be the first to win this award and thankful to Aon. I try to play the game to the best of my ability, but always with respect and I enjoy it. I enjoyed this week and I thought we played with good energy, which is important to show the young players that you can play with respect and have fun, even in defeat. I love my team. I’m so proud of all of them. I have so many amazing experiences and relationships with my team. I love the guys in that room.”
The selections were made by a committee consisting of the award’s namesakes Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin; former Ryder Cup Captains Paul Azinger and Paul McGinley; Jim Richerson, President, PGA of America; Alan White, Chairman, PGA of Great Britain and Ireland; and Carlo Clavarino, Executive Chairman, International, Aon.
“We are honoured to partner with the Ryder Cup to present the inaugural award that embodies so much of who we are and what we stand for at Aon,” said Clavarino. “Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson both reflected the spirit of this tournament, showcased better decision making on behalf of the greater good for their team and demonstrated excellence and sportsmanship.”