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Five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson celebrates new milestone

8.36am 24th August 2009 - People

Golf’s greats lined up to celebrate the 80th birthday of legendary golfer and five-times Open Champion Peter Thomson. The ‘Melbourne Tiger’ celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday, 23 August at home with his family and friends in Australia.

To mark the occasion, Peter received tributes from three of the game’s biggest names – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. The ‘big three’ acknowledge Peter’s influence on the game of golf and recollect memorable moments from their careers on and off the course.

Nicklaus recalls fondly his first Major, the US Open of 1957, where, as a 17-year-old, he missed the cut but stayed for the weekend to watch Thomson compete. He said: “I crawled on my hands and knees up the back of one tee to watch Peter Thomson and Roberto DeVicenzo tee off. At that age, when you watched the swings of great players, you could not help but go out the next day or so and emulate them. I know I did.”

Thomson was the last man to win a hat-trick of Opens (1954-56), and such was his dominance of Open golf between 1952 and 1958 that if he didn’t win, he finished second.

Arnold Palmer said: “I knew how fine a player Peter was all along, but, since he didn’t play over here a great deal during his best years, a lot of American golf followers didn’t know just how good he was. Peter certainly showed them when he came here several years to play the Senior Tour and had that remarkable 1985 season when he won nine times.”

Gary Player said: “Peter Thomson is arguably the finest golfer Australia has ever produced. Frankly, he deserves much more recognition of his achievements, not the least of which are his five British Open Championship victories. He is a prolific reader, articulate, intelligent and I have the utmost respect for him. Vivienne and I send him our best wishes for a very happy birthday.”

In addition to his brilliant playing career, Thomson found time to design and build more than 100 courses around the world, serve as the chairman of the Australian PGA for 32 years, run for Parliament in Victoria and pioneered the professional golf circuit in Asia while his writing for newspapers and magazines continues after 55 years.

Peter is still extremely active, working every day in the office of his golf course design firm, Thomson Perrett & Lobb and squeezing in three rounds of golf a week, playing off a handicap of 5.

Thomson Perrett & Lobb

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