Australian golf loses the great Kel Nagle

Kel Nagle 595

KEL NAGLE, one of the greats of Australian golf, passed away peacefully overnight in Sydney aged 94.

Nagle was the oldest living major champion and was one of only nine Australians to win a major championship – the 1960 British Open.

Born in 1920 in New South Wales, Nagle was one of the PGA of Australia’s most revered members for 75 years.

“It’s a sad day for golf, we’ve lost a Champion of our game,” said Brian Thorburn, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA.

“On behalf of the PGA and the Membership, our thoughts and sympathies are with the Nagle family at this difficult time,” he said

Known as Mr Modesty, Nagle won a tournament every year for 26 years and was a true gentleman of the game.

Turning Professional in 1946, Nagle was a consistent victor around the globe from 1949 to 1975; securing 61 wins on the PGA Tour of Australasia and two on the US PGA TOUR.

Nagle’s first big victory came in 1949 at the Australian PGA Championship – an event he went on to win a further five times between 1950 and 1968 and still holds an unbroken record of six wins. He also had significant success in New Zealand, winning the New Zealand PGA Championship and the New Zealand Open seven times respectively.

In Britain and America, Nagle won the 1960 Open Championship (in its centenary year) at St Andrews and finished second in a playoff with Gary Player in the 1965 US Open.

At the time, Player was quoted as saying that Nagle was “one of the best short game players he had ever seen.”

Nagle’s other achievements included wins at the 1954 World Cup (Montreal), and 1959 World Cup (Melbourne), both in partnership with five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson, and the 1964 Canada Open.

He continued to play in Australia before joining the PGA Senior Tour (now Champions Tour) in America in the 1970s where he played 102 events from 1981-1989.

In 1980, Nagle was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the sport of golf and following this, in 1986, was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. In 2007 he received golf’s highest honour – induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

For more insights into the career of this Australian golfing legend see Mike Clayton’s piece on the Golf Australia website here

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Brian is a former Sydney journalist who didn’t have a skerrick of interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded Australian Senior Golfer in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association.

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