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Kel Nagle


Kel Nagle

Kel Nagle plays during the 1962 British Open, two years after winning it in 1960.

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Kel Nagle

Golfer Kel Nagle with the Claret Jug (and his wife) in 1960.

Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Kel Nagle beat back Arnold Palmer's challenge to win his only major. He was nearly 40 years old before he started played internationally, but Nagle won in Europe and challenged in several more majors in the 1960s.

Date of birth: December 21, 1920
Place of birth: North Sydney, Australia
Nickname: Kel is his nickname, short for Kelvin

Tour Victories:

• PGA Tour: 2
• Australasian Tour: 61

Nagle also won around 10 times on the British/European circuit that pre-dated the formation of the European Tour.

Major Championships:

• British Open: 1960

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame

Quote, Unquote:

Gary Player: "I had the privilege of playing in Australia 31 times and got to know Kel Nagle very well indeed. I can honestly say I never met anybody in my life that didn't really like Kel Nagle."


Arnold Palmer's first visit to the Open Championship, at St. Andrews in 1960, is generally credited with reviving American interest in the tournament and encouraging more of the top Americans to travel to that tournament. Arnie made a final-round charge that year but came up short, finishing second to ... Kel Nagle.

Kel Nagle Biography:

Many times in the history of golf a golfer who was generally unknown to the golfing public jumped up, seemingly out of nowhere, to win a major championship.

In 1960, Kel Nagle was one of those golfers. He had played in only two majors before, the 1951 and 1955 Open Championships, and was largely unknown outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Plus, 1960 was the year in which Arnold Palmer revitalized the British Open by making his first trip to play the tournament. And at St. Andrews, no less. And Palmer put on a great show, making a final-day charge that included a birdie on the last hole.

But it was Nagle, with a solid par on the final hole, who held the Claret Jug.

Nagle was born in North Sydney, Australia, and turned pro in 1946. His first big win was the 1949 Australian PGA Championship. In 1954 and 1959, Nagle and Peter Thomson, as Team Australia, captured the World Cup of Golf titles.

Nagle went on to win 61 times in Australasia, including multiple victories in the region's biggest events: Australian PGA Championship (six wins), Australian Open (one win), New Zealand PGA Championship (eight wins) and New Zealand Open (six wins).

He was already 39 years old when he won his British Open. But following that win, his Nagle came close several more times at the Open. He was sixth in 1961, second in 1962, fourth in 1963, fifth in 1965 and fourth in 1966.

Nagle finished second in the 1965 U.S. Open, losing a playoff to Gary Player - who once called Nagle "one of the best short-game players I ever saw" - 71 to 74. He had one other Top 10 in the U.S. Open. Those were his best finishes in majors outside the British Open.

During the 1960s, Nagle posted several big wins in Europe, including the French Open and Swiss Open in 1961; and won once on the PGA Tour (1964 Canadian Open).

He continued winning back home into the mid-1970s, and also won three PGA Seniors Championships, a European seniors event, in the early to mid-70s.

Nagle was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2007.

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