The Open 2015: Granddaughter attends St Andrews and fulfils promise she made to her grandfather - the 1960 Open champion

Kel Nagle's name adorns the side of the grandstand behind the 18th hole in honour of his contributions to golf

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The Independent Online

Having attended the Open over the weekend, Alicia Nagle fulfilled a promise she made to her grandfather, the 1960 Open champion, Kel Nagle, days before he passed away early in 2015.

As Nagle’s health deteriorated in January, Alicia made the promise to come to this year’s Open at St Andrews, where the Australian registered his major victory, and has been meeting the men who played alongside her grandfather.

Talking to Golf Digest, she said: "I got the call in mid-January that he was not that well. I flew back to Sydney right away. He was still in high spirits but his health was deteriorating. I saw him for about ten days. It was devastating to say farewell but we had some lovely chats in that time.

 

"In the last conversation we had I promised I would return to St. Andrews this year in his honor. At that stage I wasn't sure if he could hear me. But he opened his eyes, nodded and gave me a kiss on the cheek. That was the last time we spoke. He passed away the next day."

Nagle’s famous win at St Andrews came at the expense of Arnold Palmer who arrived at the Old Course in pursuit of his third straight major and the illustrious Grand Slam. It was Nagle who denied him by a single shot.

"Mister Palmer was sitting behind me at breakfast," said Alicia. "I wasn't going to bother him at first. I didn't want to intrude. But when I stood up to get a coffee, he smiled at me. Which was my chance to speak to him.

“I went over and introduced myself. He immediately got up, shook my hand and kissed me on the cheek. 'It's so wonderful that you are here,' he said. We chatted about the 1960 Open and he was very kind in what he said about Pa.

"He told me what a gentleman my Pa was. He talked about the tussles they had on the course over the years. He clearly had a great respect for Pa. And I know Pa felt the same way about him. It was a special moment for me."

Alicia was also given the opportunity to meet another of her grandfather’s golfing rivals, the nine-time major winner Gary Player. After pairing off against one another at the 1965 US Open title, the South African prevented Nagle from claiming his second major title.

"Gary had lots to say," said Alicia with a smile. "He is so full of life. He told me he has been to Australia 31 times. And he told me that of all the men he has known in golf, Pa was the finest. I've heard that so many times. So it must be true."

Nagle's name adorns the side of the grandstand behind the 18th green this week as recognition of his contribution to the game.

Alicia remarked: "I cried when I saw that. It made me feel like he is with me and that his spirit is still watching the Open."

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