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Australian History

January 30, 1950 – Birth of Jack Newton, Australian golfer


Jack Newton

Jack Newton

Jack Newton OAM (born 30 January 1950) is an Australian former professional golfer.

Newton was born in Cessnock, New South Wales. He was one of Australia’s most successful golfers in the 1970s and early 1980s.

He turned professional in 1971 and won his first professional tournament – the Dutch Open – in 1972.

Newton notched up several victories over the next decade as he won titles such as the British Matchplay in 1974, the Buick-Goodwrench Open in 1978, and the Australian Open Championship in 1979.

In the 1975 Open Championship at Carnoustie in Scotland, Newton lost in a playoff to Tom Watson.

In the third round, Newton set a course record of 65, despite having injured an ankle so severely on the practice tee prior to the start of the championship, that he had it professionally wrapped each day, and was subjected to pain-killing injections. 

In the final round, Newton was the leader during the back-nine but dropped shots in three of the last four holes. Watson holed a 20-foot putt for a birdie on the 72nd hole to tie Newton.

In the next day’s 18-hole playoff, Watson defeated Newton by one stroke (71-72). Newton later said that the turning point in the playoff was when Watson chipped in for an eagle at the 14th hole.

Newton won the PGA Tour of Australia’s Order of Merit in 1979. He finished tied for second at the 1980 Masters Tournament behind the winner Seve Ballesteros.

Propeller accident

On 24 July 1983, during the height of his professional career, Newton had a near-fatal accident when he walked into the spinning propeller of a Cessna airplane he was about to board at Sydney Airport; he was about to return to Newcastle having flown to Sydney that morning to see a VFL game between the Sydney Swans and Melbourne Football Club.

He lost his right arm and eye, and sustained severe abdominal injuries. A severe rainstorm was in progress at the time, and in addition, safety aspects near the plane were deficient.

Immediately after the accident, doctors gave Newton a 50-50 chance of surviving.

He spent several days in a coma and eight weeks in intensive care. After a prolonged rehabilitation from his injuries, Newton returned to public life as a television and radio golf commentator, newspaper reporter, golf course designer, public speaker and Chairman of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation.

He taught himself to play golf one-handed, swinging the club with his left hand in a right-handed stance. He typically scores in the mid-80s.

In 2003, Newton was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, and was rushed to hospital. He suffered no further permanent injuries.

Personal life

Newton married his wife Jackie in 1974, and they have two children, Kristie and Clint. Clint Newton plays rugby league, while Kristie is also a professional golfer.

On 11 June 2007, Newton was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to golf, particularly through a range of executive, youth development and fundraising roles.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

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