When Englishman Tony Jacklin won the 1970 U.S. Open by seven shots at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, nobody had done so by such a margin in 49 years.
And no one would do so again for the next 30, until Tiger Woods' 15-shot victory at Pebble Beach in 2000.
Jacklin shot an opening-round 71 — the only below-par score that Thursday — in a gale that raged across young, controversial Hazeltine National. It blew away much of a field that included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in a single round.
He led by two shots at day's end and increased his lead every day until he finished Sunday afternoon's closing holes like a man out for a stroll. Not religious by nature, he remembers saying a prayer that final morning seeking strength to survive the day.
"You'd be forgiven for thinking it was easy," Jacklin said. "It was anything but easy."
The British Open winner by two shots the summer before, Jacklin's U.S. Open victory at age 26 was his second and last major championship during a life in golf that included 29 victories worldwide. He played for Europe in seven Ryder Cups, captained its team four more times in the 1980s and was arguably the most successful British player of his generation.
With this year's U.S. Open starting in September on Thursday at Winged Foot, where does 50 years go?
"I don't know," Jacklin said. "It's mind-boggling how fast time flies. Obviously, it was a great week in my life. I remember it literally like it was yesterday."
He spoke by FaceTime last Saturday from Sioux Falls, S.D., where he traveled from his Bradenton, Fla., home on Nicklaus' private jet to play in a legends exhibition within the PGA Tour Champions event there.
His 7-under-par finish in 1970 easily beat runner-up Dave Hill, the American who made Hazeltine infamous for a time by saying all the 8-year-old sapling of a course lacked was "80 acres of corn and a few cows."
Hazeltine National has matured into a major men's championship venue that hosted among its many championships another U.S. Open, two PGA Championships, a U.S. Amateur and a Ryder Cup that will return in 2029 after it was such a success in 2016.
Jacklin was never a critic. Hazeltine National's blind, dogleg holes and gusting prairie winds that annoyed others reminded him of courses on which he was "weaned" in England and Scotland.
"I was very much at home in that environment," he said. "That first round, I got my nose ahead and I never looked back."
Jacklin earned $30,000 for winning in 1970, and his trophy and most of his others are displayed at the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews.
He credits a putting tip that week from practice partner Bert Yancey's older brother for developing a feel for distance on Hazeltine National's greens.
"It was the best week I ever had on the golf course, especially on the greens," he said. "I putted beautifully all week, and that's what got it done."
Hazeltine National has changed through the years, as has Jacklin. He retired from competitive golf some 20 years ago and did course design, corporate speaking and media commentary work. His current project is new digital periodical Keeler1930 — a multimedia tribute to legendary players Jacklin, Hale Irwin, Juli Inkster and others, in their own voice — that launches later this year.
The USGA again invited him to its Open this week, but he seldom travels anymore. His South Dakota trip last weekend was his first from home in 13 months.
"At 76 years of age now, I'm pretty much done with golf," he said.
Jacklin returned to Hazeltine National for the club's 50th anniversary celebration in 2012, participated in a 2015 charity event there and made corporate appearances at the Ryder Cup a year later. His golf bag from that week remains displayed in Hazeltine National's clubhouse museum.
"They've made me an honorary member, which I'm very proud to be," Jacklin said. "It's all good. All the memories I have from Hazeltine and Minnesota are wonderful."