Tributes paid to former Open Champion Kel Nagle.
Tributes are being paid to the great Kel Nagle who passed away in Australia earlier today. He was 94.
The 1960 Open Champion is renowned as one of golf’s greatest players, who won at least one championship each year for 26 consecutive years from 1949, and as a true gentleman.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kel Nagle. Kel was a wonderful golfer and an outstanding ambassador for the sport around the world.”
Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A said, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kel Nagle. Kel was a wonderful golfer and an outstanding ambassador for the sport around the world. His victory over Arnold Palmer in the 1960 Open was one of the most dramatic and memorable in the Championship’s history. He was a tremendously engaging person and very modest about his remarkable career. The world of golf has undoubtedly lost one of its leading lights today and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
Current Open Champion Rory McIlroy, playing in the Dubai Desert Classic, paid tribute to Nagle. “I heard the news this morning before heading out here to the golf course and it's always very sad when one of the legends of the game passes away," he said. "When I won the Australian Open in Sydney two years ago I was made aware he wasn't in the best of health as I was hoping to visit him where he was staying.
"I do know of his Open win at St Andrews in 1960 when he beat Arnold Palmer so it will be sad occasion this year but then I'm sure there will be a few glasses raised in Mr Nagle's memory at the Former Champions Dinner."
Nagle amassed 80 championship wins in a lengthy career which was crowned by his triumph in The Open at St Andrews when he edged out Arnold Palmer by a shot to lift the Claret Jug. Palmer’s participation in that Open was a catalyst for the resurgence of the Championship with other players, particularly from America, following his example in subsequent years.
“I heard the news this morning before heading out here to the golf course and it's always very sad when one of the legends of the game passes away.”
Despite the presence of Palmer, South Africa’s Gary Player and the Argentinian Roberto de Vicenzo, Nagle compiled rounds of 69, 67 and 71 on the Old Course to take a two shot lead going into the final round which was delayed by a day due to a torrential downpour of rain. Nagle and Palmer both went out in 34 leaving the American four shots behind with nine holes to play but he pulled shots back at the 13th and the 15th and then closed with a birdie to reduce the deficit to one. As the roar went up from the 18th green, Nagle nervelessly holed a par putt on the 17th to retain his lead and calmly parred the last to secure a memorable victory.
Nagle went on to record six top ten finishes in The Open from 1961 to 1969 and lost an 18-hole play-off to Player for the US Open in 1965 at Bellerive Country Club in Missouri.
Born in New South Wales in 1920, Nagle became a professional in 1946 and earned a reputation as one of the most consistent performers of his era. His first victory as a professional came in 1949 at the Australian PGA Championship and he retains the record for his six wins in the event.
Nagle won 61 times on the PGA Tour of Australasia and also won the Canadian Open on the PGA TOUR. In partnership with five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson he won the World Cup in 1954 and 1959.
In 2007, Nagle was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding achievements in golf.