August 23, 1929 – June 20, 2018
Peter Thomson was the best Australian golfer to ever play the game and one of the finest links players the world has ever seen. He learnt the game on a nine-hole course in the working-class district of Brunswick, Melbourne, where he grew up. The course was hard and bouncy, and largely deserted, so Thomson worked out for himself how best to tackle it. His solution was a low, penetrating ball flight and a passion for creative shots that utilised the natural undulations rather than trying to fight against them. The skills he developed and his love of links courses helped Thomson dominate The Open Championship for most of the 1950s. He lifted the Claret Jug three years in a row from 1954 to 1956, a feat no one else has managed since the 19th century, won it again in 1958, and finished no worse than second from 1952 to 1958. Thomson’s fifth Open victory, his 1965 win at Royal Birkdale, was perhaps his most impressive of all. Whilst his first four came when Bobby Locke was at his peak, it was a time when few of America’s top stars entered The Open. His final victory, however, came when golf had gone global, meaning Thomson had to overcome a field containing the ‘big three’ of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. He won by two clear shots. Although it was Thomson’s five Open victories that secured his place in golfing history, they weren’t the limit of his success. He won 84 professional titles in total, before a successful senior career saw another 12 wins, including the PGA Seniors’ Championship and his last ever victory, the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship in his home country. Thomson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame that same year and captained the International Team to victory in the 1998 Presidents Cup.
Thomson’s golfing talents extended beyond just playing. He designed more than 100 courses and was an active golf writer, contributing to The Age for 50 years from the early 1950s.
We at GW salute the writer, the player, and above all the golf lover that was Peter Thomson.