Through it all, through every three-putt, through every struggle, through every nightmare, through every Ryder Cup victory and every happy new business deal, the hazel-eyed Irish bookkeeper was there for him. Stay by me all of my life, he once wrote in a poem to Vivien. My friend, my lover, my woman, my wife.
And so when they buried her on May 1, 1988, seven months after that last Ryder Cup triumph, it was as if he were staring down into his own grave. Alone? How could he be alone?
Who could he turn to? His life unraveled. Manuel Corillo, a real estate agent who helped him find the land for his newest golf course, in San Roque, had died of cancer in March. In December, his close friend Juan Luis Bandrez, who owned a line of ferries that operated between Morocco and Spain, was shot to death by, an angry ex-employee. His 25-year friendship with Thomas ended bitterly as the result of a business dispute.
He and his mother were barely speaking, and when they did he wished they hadn't. She has not been to Spain to see Jacklin since he remarried. "My mother and I don't get along," he says. "To get along with people I have to like them. I don't share the belief that blood is thicker than water. She has tried to run my life long enough." Jacklin has helped out his parents financially for the last 15 years. He says that never once has his mother thanked him. Asked to comment, Doris Jacklin declined.
Tony saw life as a joke that doesn't quite come off. "You look around and you see guys who can't stand their wives—like my dad—couples that have lived 50 years in absolute purgatory and they just go on and on in a mindless state of not caring. And then this happens to me and Viv, and you can't take it all in, there's just not enough time.
"There was definitely a time when I didn't want life to continue," he says of the period after Vivien's death. "I contemplated doing away with myself." And when he would snap himself out of that, and maybe start feeling good again, he would get another batch of the more than 2,000 cards, letters and telegrams of condolence—from Denis Thatcher, Lord Whitelaw, Edward Heath—reminding him how terrible he felt.
How could he be alone? He couldn't. Six weeks after Vivien's death, he met a 16-year-old waitress named Donna Methven at a golf tournament in England. "I was at my lowest ebb," he said later, "and Donna was kind and sweet, a shoulder to cry on." They had a two-month affair.
Who could guess that Methven was a budding journalist? For a reported $75,000, she sold her story to The Sun, London's biggest and yellowest tabloid, in which the "Page 3 Girl" wears nothing but Page One. The front-page, war-is-declared headline in the Aug. 30 edition read JACKLIN SEDUCED VIRGIN, 16. Included were not only details about when they made love, but also where, how and who was physically compatible with whom.
According to Jacklin, the story was filled with lies. Still, he was flattened. "To try and ruin a life," he says of The Sun's story, "to purposely try to destroy a life just to put something on somebody's knee as they ride the bus to work is more pathetic than I have words to explain."
Still, flowers bloom in the damnedest places. One day he dropped by a Sotogrande neighbor's house and met a Norwegian beauty, Astrid Waagen, 37. You know the formula. "I knew right then I wanted to marry her," he says. Four months later, in December 1988, they were married.