'Great sadness': World mourns death of Aussie golf legend Jack Newton

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Tributes are rolling in from around the world after news of the death of Aussie golf legend, Jack Newton. Pic: Getty
Tributes are rolling in from around the world after news of the death of Aussie golf legend, Jack Newton. Pic: Getty

The golfing world has been rocked by the news that Aussie legend Jack Newton has died at the age of 72.

Newton won 13 professional tournaments over a hugely successful career between 1971 and 1983, including the Buick-Goodwrench Open PGA Tour in 1978.

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Newton, the 1979 Australian Open champion, died overnight due to "health complications", his family revealed.

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.

His golfing career ended prematurely in July 1983 when he lost his right arm and eye after walking into a plane's spinning propeller at age 33.

"(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."

Newton is survived by his wife Jackie, daughter Kristie and son Clint. He has six grandchildren.

Jack Newton, pictured here with son Clint in 2001.
Jack Newton with son Clint in 2001. (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images)

World pays tribute to golfing icon Jack Newton

Newton's career was literally cut down in its prime when he walked into the spinning propeller while rushing madly to catch the Cessna 210 back home to Newcastle after watching a Sydney Swans game at the SCG.

Newton would ordinarily have been in the UK playing the British Open, which he went so painfully close to winning eight years earlier if not for an arm injury that ruled the 1975 runner-up out.

But fate dealt Newton a cruel hand that rainy, wintry night which his great mate and former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke recalled at the 2015 Jack Newton Celebrity Classic in the Hunter Valley.

"I hadn't been prime minister long when the accident first happened and I of course went straight to the hospital," Hawke said.

"The doctor said: 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to save him PM but he's got two things going for him - he's unbelievably strong and he's got (wife) Jackie'.

"And those two things worked of course to save that marvellous life, which we're all terribly grateful for because he's been and continues to be a great Australian citizen.

"I always say at these meetings that I love Jack Newton. When I think of an Australian, I think of Jack Newton - courage unlimited, no bullshit, a thoroughly decent man who has dedicated his life which was saved in the most unusual of circumstances."

Jack Newton, pictured here with Jackie, Kirstie and Clint Newton at the Jack Newton Celebrity Golf Classic in 2008.
Jack Newton with Jackie, Kirstie and Clint Newton at the Jack Newton Celebrity Golf Classic in 2008. (AAP Image/Geoff Jones)

Almost 40 years on and Newton was diagnosed with dementia.

Last December, the 42nd annual "Jacks" was the first since the shattering news was made public two months prior and the first since his son Clint, the former NRL star and now RLPA boss, replaced Newton on the board.

The event has raised more than $3 million for charity over the years, while the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation has raked in upwards of $20 million for the development of the country's brightest young golfers since its establishment in 1986.

"Jack and I never started the Jack Newton Junior Golf with the mindset of generating such a significant amount towards golf," Jackie Newton said at the time.

"Jack simply loved the game of golf and we wanted to help children. To be in a position today, where we're now talking about these types of figures is truly incredible.

"We would both agree that this is arguably Jack's single biggest achievement in golf because it has impacted so many children and families over 35 years."

Tributes have been flowing in for Newton on social media.

with AAP

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