Jack Newton, who lost a British Open playoff, dies at 72

Apr 14, 2022, 5:46 AM | Updated: 8:46 pm
FILE - Tom Watson, left, of the U.S.A. and Jack Newton of Australia shake hands before the playoff ...

FILE - Tom Watson, left, of the U.S.A. and Jack Newton of Australia shake hands before the playoff to decide the winner of the British Open Golf Championship, in Carnoustie, Scotland in July 1975. Newton, who lost to Watson in a 1975 British Open playoff and tied for second behind Seve Ballesteros at the 1980 Masters before his professional golf career ended in a near-fatal plane propeller accident, has died Friday, April 15, 2022. He was 72. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Jack Newton, who lost to Tom Watson in a 1975 British Open playoff and tied for second behind Seve Ballesteros at the 1980 Masters before his professional golf career ended in a near-fatal aircraft propeller accident, has died. He was 72.

Newton, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, died early Friday due to “health complications,” his family said in a statement.

“(He) was a fearless competitor and iconic Australian, blazing a formidable trail during his professional golfing career,” his family added. “He fought back from tremendous adversity as only he could.”

Newton won the U.S. PGA Tour’s Buick Open in 1978 and the Australian Open in 1979 and three tournaments in Europe before his career — and nearly his life — ended when he walked into the propeller of a small plane he was about to board at Sydney airport on July 24, 1983.

His right arm was severed, he lost sight in his right eye and also sustained severe injuries to his abdomen. Doctors gave him only a 50-50 chance of surviving, and he spent nearly two months in intensive care and required lengthy rehabilitation from his injuries.

“Things weren’t looking too good for me. I knew that from the priest walking around my (hospital) bed,” Newton said later. He was 33 at the time of the accident.

Despite his near-death experience, Newton and his jovial personality returned to public life. He became a popular television, radio and newspaper golf commentator, golf course designer and chairman of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation, which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for golf’s up-and-coming players in Australia.

The foundation’s annual tournament attracted a who’s who of celebrities and pro golfers in Australia, most of whom dressed up in outlandish costumes as encouraged each year by Newton.

Not to be denied from playing the game he loved, he taught himself to play golf one-handed, swinging the club with his left hand in a right-handed stance. He regularly had scores in the mid-80s for 18 holes. That translates to a handicap of about 12 or 14, one that most able-bodied amateur players would aspire to.

Newton turned professional in 1971 on the European Tour and won his first event, the Dutch Open, the following year. A week later, he won another tournament at Fulford, England and, in 1974, the tour’s match play championship.

The Australian’s playoff loss in the 1975 British Open at Carnoustie came after Watson had a few rather fortuitous shots. A wire fence kept Watson’s ball in bounds on the eighth hole and the American chipped for eagle at the 14th to claim the Claret Jug by a shot over Newton.

“I always felt that if I came into a major with some good form, then I could be dangerous,” Newton had said. “That’s the way I played golf. Once I got my tail up I wasn’t afraid of anybody.”

Australian golfer Greg Chalmers said on Twitter: “Every journey starts somewhere, mine was in golf tournaments under the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation.” Fellow Aussie pro James Nitties said: “Jack Newton not only an amazing golfer but what he and his family did for charity and junior golf in Australia was truly amazing.”

PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman praised Newton’s impact on the game Down Under.

“Jack has been such an influential figure in Australian golf and his contribution and legacy will live on for many decades to come,” Kirkman said. “He was as tough off the course as he was on it. Yet underlying everything was his deep passion for the game of golf and the positive impact it could have on people’s lives, particularly young people.”

Newton is survived by his wife, Jackie, and two children, Kristie and Clint, and six grandchildren.

Kristie was a pro golfer and Clint Newton, who was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, played rugby league in Australia and Britain and represented the United States at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

“His passion for sport and contributing to future generations of golfers and the Australian community demonstrates the character of our father, beloved husband, proud brother, adoring grandfather, and maverick mate,” his family said in the statement.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Vikings hire Brian Flores as defensive coordinator

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings hired Brian Flores as their defensive coordinator on Monday, their first step toward trying to revive a once-dominant unit that ranked among the NFL’s worst last season. Flores was a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach this season for Pittsburgh, after three years as head coach in Miami. Prior […]
18 hours ago
Denver Broncos new head coach Sean Payton is introduced during a news conference at the team's head...
Associated Press

Sean Payton brings old-school style to Denver in his return

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Sean Payton is bringing an old-school style sown by his mentor Bill Parcells and steeped in discipline and accountability as he takes over as the Denver Broncos’ new head coach. One thing that means is that Russell Wilson will no longer have his own entourage at the team’s headquarters as he […]
18 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) attempts a three-point shot as New Orleans Pelicans guard T...
Associated Press

Irving trade official as Mavs essentially start season over

DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic has his co-star, and the Dallas Mavericks are set for their season essentially to start over after trading for Kyrie Irving. The blockbuster deal with Brooklyn sending the mercurial Irving to the Mavericks became official Monday, two days before what figures to be his Dallas debut at the Los Angeles […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz stands on the field before an NCAA college football...
Associated Press

If Iowa offense ups its game, OC Brian Ferentz recoups pay

Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is taking a pay cut as part of a new contract that will reward him if the Hawkeyes average 25 points and win at least seven games next season — and make it easier to fire him if they don’t. The athletic department on Monday released an amended contract for […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Qatar hires coach Carlos Queiroz through the 2026 World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Former Portugal and Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has worked at the last four World Cups and was hired on Monday by Qatar to aim for a fifth straight at the next edition hosted in North America. The Qatar Football Association hired former Real Madrid coach Queiroz until 2026 to take charge […]
2 days ago
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) and Charlotte Hornets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (8) battle for ...
Associated Press

Jazz owner aims to showcase Utah with NBA All-Star Game

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When the NBA All-Star Game returns to Salt Lake City for the first time in three decades, Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith anticipates the event will help build Utah into a destination for other major sporting events. “All the lights will be on us, but I think it is one […]
2 days ago
Jack Newton, who lost a British Open playoff, dies at 72