Peter Thomson Career Profile

Peter Thomson, a 5-time British Open winner, pictured in 1967.
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Peter Thomson, whose best years were in the 1950s, is regarded as both one of the greatest golfers from Australia and also one of the greatest links golfers.

Career Profile

Date of birth: Aug. 23, 1929
Place of birth: Melbourne, Australia
Date of death: June 18, 2018
Nickname: The Melbourne Tiger

Tour Victories:

  • PGA Tour: 1, other than his British Open wins
  • European Tour: 26
  • Australasian Tour: 19
  • Senior PGA Tour: 11

Major Championships:

  • British Open: 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1965

Awards and Honors:

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Captain of International team at 1998 Presidents Cup
  • Recipient, Order of Australia, "for his contribution to golf and sport as well as his charity work in the community"

Quote, Unquote:

  • Peter Thomson: "A golf course should be a bit wild, at least in some corners. A weed now and again would be a great relief."
  • Peter Thomson: "The most important facets of golf are careful planning, calm and clear thinking and the ordinary logic of common sense."

Peter Thomson Biography

Peter Thomson is arguably the greatest Australian golfer of them all, and must also be considered one of the best links golfers.

While he played sparingly in the U.S., Thomson won often in his native Australia, in Europe, and in Asia during his best years in the 1950s. During one stretch - 1952 to 1958 - Thomson finished no worse than second in the British Open, winning four times.

Thomson took up golf at age 12, and by age 15 was club champion at his local golf club. He studied to be an industrial chemist and took a job with Spalding, but gave it up in 1949 to become a professional golfer.

He finished second at the 1952 and 1953 Open Championships, then won in 1954, 1955, and 1956 - the only golfer in the 20th Century to win the British Open three straight years. He added another win in 1958.

His final British Open title came in 1965, and it is considered his most important. In the 1950s, only a handful of America's best players traveled to play the Open, and then only occasionally. By 1965, all the world's best were there, and Thomson held off Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and defending champ Tony Lema for the victory.

Thomson won once on the U.S. PGA Tour and his best finish in U.S. majors was fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open. But Thomson rarely played in America - he played the U.S. Open only five times, The Masters only nine times, the PGA Championship not at all.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times. His winning finally ended in 1988 with the British PGA Seniors title.

Before that British senior title, however, he did venture to America and played one full season on the Champions Tour. The results: Thomson dominated, winning 9 times in 1985.

Thomson had a rhythmic, seemingly effortless swing, and an excellent putting touch, and was known for his cold calculation on the golf course.

He served as president of the Australian PGA from 1962 to 1994. In 1998, Thomson captained the International team to victory in the Presidents Cup. He also built a thriving golf course design business.

Peter Thomson was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988.