Australian golfing great Jack Newton has died, aged 72.
Newton, the 1979 Australian Open champion, died overnight due to “health complications”, his family says.
Newton’s Australian Open victory was one of three triumphs on the Australian tour — he also won once on the PGA Tour and was a three-time winner on the European Tour.
He was just a year older than Adam Scott when he won the Masters, following on from second-placed finishes at both Augusta National and the British Open.
However, in July 1983, tragedy struck.
Aged just 33, Newton lost his right arm and eye after walking into a plane’s spinning propeller while rushing back home to Newcastle after a Sydney Swans game at the SCG.
“[He] was a fearless competitor and iconic Australian, blazing a formidable trail during his professional golfing career between 1971 and 1983,” his family said in a statement on Friday.
“He fought back from tremendous adversity as only he could.
“[He] chose to selflessly invest his time, energy, and effort towards giving back to the community through his Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation, sports commentary, golf course design, and raising significant funds for several charities, most notably, diabetes.
“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.
“In true Jack Newton style, we will celebrate his incredible life.
“However, for now, our family asks for privacy and we appreciate everyone’s love, support, and friendship throughout his life.”
Forty years after his fateful accident, which shocked the country and saw then-prime minister Bob Hawke rush to the hospital to support him, Newton was diagnosed with dementia.
Last year, the 42nd annual “Jacks” event — the first since his diagnosis — saw dozens of Australian sports stars, musicians, comedians, and dignitaries flock to his home in Cessnock to raise money for charity.
Newton’s own organisation, the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation, has raised more than $20 million over the years to develop the country’s brightest young golfers since its founding in 1986.
Newton is survived by his wife, Jackie, daughter Kristie, and son Clint, who is now the CEO of the Rugby League Players Association. He also leaves behind six grandchildren and a grateful sporting community.