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Golf; Peter Thomson R.I.P.

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Contributor:
Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland
“For a period during the 1950s it seemed that Peter Thomson, who has died aged 88, virtually owned golf’s oldest major competition, the Open Championship. Between 1952 and 1958 the Australian won the Open four times and was three times a runner-up.”
 
A self-made swing
The Guardian in it’s obituary also informs us, “Thomson was born in the working class district of Brunswick, Melbourne, where he began playing golf in his early teens on the nine-hole Royal Park course, across the street from where he lived. The second world war was raging, so Royal Park was largely empty and Thomson was left to make up his own mind about how the game should be played, hardly seeing any good golfers. The course was hard and bouncy in the hot months and it was there that he developed the trademark abilities that served him so well on the links.”
Hence his wonderful record on links courses.
 
The Bobby Locke controversy
I have heard differing reports on how the two men responded to the following incident which as someone new to the game I observed on television but did not observe Locke’s error.
 
We are told that Thomson, “Went on a run of four wins in five years, only missing out narrowly on a victory in 1957 at St Andrews when he came second to Locke, who should theoretically have been disqualified for failing to replace his ball properly after marking it on the final green. The authorities felt Locke had gained no advantage from his oversight and, as he was three shots ahead of Thomson anyway, awarded him the title. Thomson fully supported the ruling, but Locke wrongly got it into his head that his closest rival was behind a subsequent whispering campaign against him, and their friendship died.”
 
Boring Peter Thomson
For those of us who’ve been around for a long time we usually share our favourite story about Peter Thomson.
 
Come 1960 I was three years into playing this great game and the Open Championship had returned to St Andrews for the Centennial Open. 
 
Time to see how this game is really played and watch the new talk of the town guy called Arnold Palmer.
As it happened our car parking spot was adjacent to what I recall was the 14th hole and ‘Hell bunker’ and the first golfer who came into view was a man I recognised as Peter Thomson. “Now here’s where I learn how great golfers handle this kind of situation.” I thought or something like that.
To my astonishment Peter didn’t think twice and immediately chipped sideways out of the bunker.
 
“Boring! Lets go see more exciting golfers,” I said to my friend and off we went.
Perhaps because it was my first real-life (Not on TV) viewing of great golfers this story has become stuck in my mind. And as a reminder that had I been more like Peter Thomson in my attitudes about playing golf I would have been a more accomplished player.
 
Link to The Guardian

Quote of the Day
“The difference between winning and losing is always a mental one.” - Peter Thomson
 
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