Thursday, 29 January 2015
Kel Nagle (PGA of Australia)  (EuropeanTour)
Kel Nagle (PGA of Australia) (EuropeanTour)

Kel Nagle, the 1960 Open Champion and one of only five Australians to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, passed away peacefully in the early hours of Thursday morning in Sydney.

Known best for his Major triumph over Arnold Palmer at St Andrews on the centenary of the tournament in 1960, Nagle went on to claim 81 titles around the world during a career that saw him win at least one title a year between 1949 and 1975.

His 61 wins on his native Australasian PGA Tour remains a record, while he also claimed another 18 triumphs around the world, as well as two on the PGA Tour.

Amongst those were two Canada Cup – the forerunner to the World Cup of Golf – victories alongside compatriot and fellow Open Champion Peter Thomson, as well as wins at the French Open, the Hong Kong Open and the Swiss Open.

His triumphs on home soil will perhaps be those remembered most fondly though, aside from his sole Major title, with seven New Zealand Open wins and an Australian Open success amongst Nagle’s victory canon.

John Jacobs, Tournament Director General of The European Tour between 1971 and 1975, spoke in glowing terms of his close friendship with Nagle throughout their respective careers, as he led The Tour’s tributes to the man known fondly as ‘golf’s great gentleman’,

He said: "I remember playing with Kel and we always got on so well. I first met him when he came over to Europe, and we played a lot together. He didn't play very well at all at that point, and hit it all over the countryside, but then he came back several years later with completely different technique.

“His back swing must have been around two and a half feet shorter, and all of a sudden he hit it very straight, and then he went on and won the Open shortly after.

"Kel was a wonderful gentleman, and I'm very sad to hear of his passing. He was one of my best friends and a lovely, lovely man.  I was very, very fond of him."

Gary Player, the man who defeated Nagle in a play-off at the 1965 US Open, took to Twitter to pay his repects. He said: “The great ‘Gentleman of Golf’, Australian Kel Nagle passed away today. My deepest condolences to his family & friends. RIP my friend.”

Other accolades attributed to Nagle throughout his life also included the award of the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1980, as a result of his service to the sport. He was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986, as well as the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.

A former PGA Professional at the Pymble Golf Club in Sydney, his legacy will also live on through the Kel Nagle Plate, awarded to the best performing rookie at the Australian PGA Championship.

 

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