Pass­ing of old­est living Ma­jor cham­pion prompts flood of trib­utes from play­ers

The Herald - Sport - - GOLF - BERNIE MCGUIRE

FOR­MER Open Cham­pion Paul Lawrie has paid trib­ute to Aus­tralian-born Kel Na­gle, golf’s old­est living Ma­jor win­ner who passed away early Thurs­day morn­ing lo­cal time in Syd­ney.

Na­gle turned 94 a month ago and is best re­mem­bered for deny­ing Arnold Palmer by cap­tur­ing the 1960 Cen­te­nary Open on the Old Course at St. An­drews, where the 144th Open will be staged later this year.

Na­gle also en­joyed an in­cred­i­ble record of win­ning at least one event a year from 1949 to 1975.

“It is al­ways very sad when one of the greats of the game pass away and more so when it is a for­mer Open Cham­pion,” said Lawrie af­ter his three-un­der-par 69 on the first day of the Dubai Desert Clas­sic.

“We had a num­ber of Graeme Bax­ter prints that I was get­ting all the old Open Cham­pi­ons to sign, and Kel was one who kindly signed the prints.

“His great friend Peter Thom­son or­gan­ised to get them signed, and while I never had the plea­sure of meet­ing Kel, he was a great player and what I’ve learned from Peter he was also one of the great­est guys you could ever meet.

“But while he’s passed on what Kel man­aged to achieve in that 1960 Open is some­thing that will live on for­ever in the his­tory of the Open Cham­pi­onship.”

Also pay­ing trib­ute was the cur­rent Open Cham­pion and World No. 1 Rory McIl­roy.

“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 Dubai.

“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.

“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.”

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

“I’m sorry to hear 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 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.”

FRIENDLY FOES: Kel Na­gle, left, watches Arnold Palmer tee off in 1975

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