Kel Nagle is pictured at the 1976 British Open Golf Championship.
1949 - 1964. Open glory in 1960.
| Kel Nagle enjoyed his first notable success some three years after he
turned professional, when capturing the 1949 Australian PGA title, but
it was to be many years before he would challenge for the game's major
honours. His greatest moment was, without doubt, at the 1960 Open
Championship - it's centenary year - which was played at St. Andrews.
With the advice of his fellow countryman Peter Thomson to help him,
Nagle held off the challenge of golf's rising star Arnold Palmer, who
was making his debut appearance. Such was Thomson's faith in Nagle's
abilities that he took advantage of the generous starting odds of 35-1
and backed him to win the tournament. Nagle did not let him down and his
rounds of 69, 67, 71 and 71 were just sufficient to hold off the
challenge of Palmer who closed with a 68. That 68 included a birdie at
the last hole to really put the pressure on the Australian but he held
his nerve admirably to hole a ten footer at the 17th and a par at the
last handed him his first major title in his 40th year. The following
two years saw the irrepressible Palmer make up for the disappointment of
that 1960 defeat with victories at Birkdale and Troon with Nagle
turning in highly creditable performances to finish fifth and second
respectively. The Australian turned in yet another fine display at the
1963 Open to finish in fourth place, six strokes back on New Zealander
Bob Charles. In 1964 Nagle tasted success for the first time on the US
Tour with his victory in the Canadian Open.
1965 onwards. Near miss at 1965 US Open.
|Kel Nagle turned in his best performance in a major championship on American soil at the 1965 U.S. Open, only to be pipped at the post in a play-off with Gary Player. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 69 left him all square with Player at 282, meaning the two returned for an 18 hole play-off the following day. It was not to be Kel's day, however, as he could manage only a rather disappointing 74 compared to the South African's 71. That same year Kel turned in his usual fine showing in the Open Championship, finishing four strokes behind fellow countryman Peter Thomson in a tie for 5th place. The following year he was there or thereabouts once again in the Open carding rounds of 72, 68, 76 and 70 to finish four shots back on the legendary Jack Nicklaus. That was to be the nearest that Kel would come to adding to that memorable Open triumph of 1960, although there was a useful performance at the 1969 Open, played at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where he finished in 9th place. That completed a magnificent decade for Nagle at the Open where he enjoyed a remarkable seven top ten finishes. Kel continued to win tournaments in both his homeland and New Zealand throughout the 1960s and 70s and such was his dominance at the New Zealand professional during the first part of the seventies that he won four times in six years. The highly popular Nagle won his last tournament at the 1977 Western Australian PGA, by which time he was in his 57th year. (David Scranage)