Kel Nagle: Fellow Open Champions Pay Tribute

World number one Rory McIlroy and reigning Open Champion has paid tribute to fellow Open winner Kel Nagle who passed away peacefully today in Sydney.

Nagle, 94 was golf’s oldest-living living Major winner having captured the 1960 Centenary Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews where golf’s oldest Major will be staged later this year.

Kel Nagle Kel Nagle holds the 1960 Open Championship trophy (Credit: PGA Australia)

McIlroy has competed in just one Open at St. Andrews setting a course record 63 on the opening day of the 2010 championship and on route to sharing third place behind South African Louis Oosthuizen.

“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,” said McIlroy after shooting a first round six under par 66 in the Dubai Desert Classic.

“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.”

Oosthuizen was the last player to win The Open at St. Andrews in 2010 and he too expressed his sadness shortly before withdrawing before teeing-up from the Dubai event with a back injury.

“It is very sad to learn of the passing of Mr. Nagle,” said Oosthuizen.

“Of course, I had never met him but his name was one of the first I noticed when I was handed the Claret Jug in 2010 at St. Andrews.

“Then when I had time to look more closely at all the names who had won the trophy at St. Andrews I noticed his name, so it’s kind of special to me, even though it is very sad, to know he and I both won on the Old Course.

“All I can say is that I extend my condolences to his family.”

And double Open Champion Ernie Els, who battled tiredness in shooting a level par 72 on the Emirates Course, also has expressed his sadness.

“I’m sorry to here he passed away as Kel was one of the legends of the game and what he achieved at St. Andrews in 1960 was remarkable given Arnold’s (Palmer) reputation at the time,” he said.

“He was a great champion and I’m sure Australian golf, and golf in general, is poorer for his passing.”

Also expressing their condolences to Nagle’s family was fellow Australians Scott Hend, Richard Green and Brett Rumford.

Rumford is himself a past Australian PGA winner having set Tour history in capturing, as a then amateur, the 1999 event and the week after Aaron Baddeley had won the Australian Open.

“Kel was a giant of Australian golf and his passing sadly removes another of the great chapters in Australian golf,” said Rumford.