TEE­ING OFF:

BREN­DAN JAMES

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS -

IN the days and weeks af­ter Peter Thom­son passed away, the tributes to the great man flowed.

It seemed like ev­ery Aus­tralian who has ever picked up a golf club had a ‘Thommo’ story to tell.

One of my favourite yarns dates back to The Open at Royal Birk­dale in 1954 and that white jacket he donned for the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion. Back in those days the cham­pi­onship fin­ished on Satur­day with 36 holes played in the day. Thom­son carded a 69 in the morn­ing and was locked in a share of the lead with Welsh­man Dai Rees and English­man Syd Scott with the after­noon round to play.

While Rees and Scott ate their lunch, Thommo ducked back to his ho­tel to grab the white jacket and a tie for the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion at the end of the day. With con­fi­dence like that, Rees and Scott didn’t stand a chance. Thom­son closed with a 71 to beat the pair, and his close ri­val Bobby Locke, by a stroke and he hoisted the Claret Jug for the first time and a le­gend was born.

I had the priv­i­lege of play­ing a round with Mr Thom­son in 2004. It’s a rare thing to play in the com­pany of golf­ing roy­alty so I was un­der­stand­ably ner­vous stand­ing over my open­ing tee shot. I could feel him watch­ing my ev­ery twitch be­fore launch­ing into the swing that sent the ball well right of the fair­way and into some scrub. The gen­tle­man in Mr Thom­son said noth­ing.

In fact, he made no com­ment at all about any of my swings or good and bad shots un­til we reached our 17th hole, a par-3. As we stood by the tee he piped up with: “You would do well to not grip the club so tightly. Re­lax those hands.”

I walked onto the tee, gripped the club as in­structed and swung. Flushed it! The ball bounced once, hit the flag­stick about three feet from the ground and fin­ished a foot from the hole. I turned to Mr Thom­son and with a broad smile he said: “Well played sir.”

I thought it only fit­ting our tribute is­sue to Mr Thom­son car­ried those three words be­cause his life in the game, as a player, ad­min­is­tra­tor, writer and course ar­chi­tect, was cer­tainly well played.

BY BREN­DAN JAMES | GOLF AUS­TRALIA ED­I­TOR

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