Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia Crowned Winners of the Inaugural Nicklaus-Jacklin Award Presented by Aon
After Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia received the inaugural Nicklaus-Jacklin award presented by Aon at the 2021 Ryder Cup, they each deflected plenty of credit to their respective teammates and opponents.
And that sentiment embodies the spirit of the award, which is given to one player from each of the U.S and European Ryder Cup teams who exemplifies sportsmanship, demonstrates teamwork and maximizes performance. Inspiration for the award is the iconic 1969 Concession at Royal Birkdale, wherein Jack Nicklaus conceded a putt that Tony Jacklin needed to halve the match on the final hole, sacrificing individual gain for the greater good of his team.
“This award embodies values we aspire to at Aon, and also celebrates the decisions that will continue to shape the future of this iconic team event,” said Carlo Clavarino, Aon Executive Chairman, International Business. “In golf as in business, the decisions that really make an impact aren’t always obvious. Every day, we work to ensure our clients have the information, insights and advice they need to make better decisions that deliver successful outcomes.”
For the Ryder Cup, statistical data was calculated after each session to quantify the players’ performance and team contributions, ultimately helping select the winners.
Johnson—at age 37, the U.S. team's oldest member—became the fifth American player in history to finish a Ryder Cup with a 5-0-0 record. According to the data, he excelled in performance. Pre-match, Johnson was projected to make 4.06 birdies for each of his singles matches, but actually made eight on Sunday alone, sinking 87 feet worth of birdie putts. The data also suggested he'd make 2.09 par-4 birdies that day, but he wound up making five. That outstanding performance helped lead the U.S. to the largest margin of victory in the modern Ryder Cup era. But he also helped guide his younger teammates during the event, leading and inspiring them by example.
“I am so proud of my teammates and my captains and loved the help from the fans," said Johnson. "This award is something to be very proud of. All 12 of us showed great teamwork. One thing we have in common is we all hate to lose. We all bonded around it, came together and played unbelievable. We have a lot of young guys on our team who are rookies in the Ryder Cup, but it didn't feel like that. They stepped up to the plate and all wanted it. We all hate to lose and that's why we came together.”
Playing in his 10th Ryder Cup, Spain's Garcia finished with a 3-1-0 record for the week, and became the all-time Ryder Cup leader in overall wins (25), overall points (28.5) and foursome wins (12). While paired with Jon Rahm in the Saturday foursomes, Garcia was three down through three holes before the pair fought back and became the first European team to win a match from that situation since 1987. Data showed they only had a 10.2 percent win probability through five holes in that match, yet they defied the odds.
Garcia also provided encouragement to struggling teammate Rory McIlroy on behalf of the European team, exemplifying both teamwork and sportsmanship. “It's nice to get this award from Aon," said Garcia. "We all know about the beautiful moment that happened 52 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.”
Johnson and Garcia were selected by a committee consisting of Nicklaus, Jacklin, Clavarino, former Ryder Cup Captains Paul Azinger and Paul McGinley, PGA of America president Jim Richerson, and PGA of Great Britain and Ireland chairman Alan White. For more information on The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon, visit RyderCup.com/aon.