25 Feb 2020 | Professional golf | Industry news |

Thomson earns top honour

by Mark Hayes

Peter Thomson was the dominant force in Open Championships for more than a decade.
Peter Thomson was the dominant force in Open Championships for more than a decade.

The top honour at this week's Victorian Sport Awards will be given to golf legend Peter Thomson.

A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame since 1988 and Sport Australia Hall of Fame since 1985, Thomson will be recognised by the Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award.

Known to many colloquially as "Five-time" for the number of occasions he lifted the Claret Jug as Open champion, Thomson's honour not only encapsulates his on-course results, but also his peerless contribution to golf outside the ropes.

Vicsport chairman Ron Gauci was delighted to make the announcement for the man who passed away in Melbourne on 20 June 2018 at the age of 88.

"Peter’s contribution to golf in Victoria was immense and his legacy continues today," Gauci said.

"We are pleased and proud to recognise Peter’s achievements around the world and the very high standing his reputation has today."

Previous Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award winners include Nicole Livingstone, Kevin Sheedy, Cadel Evans, Catherine Freeman, John Bertrand, Bill Lawry and Susan Alberti.

Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said Thomson's name fitted neatly alongside those as someone who was almost universally admired.

"You'd have to go a long way in golf circles to find anyone who spoke ill of Peter ... and his impact will be felt for generations to come," Pitt said.

"Most know of his wins, but he also was an ambassador, a visionary and a great influencer.

"He was essentially the first person to envisage what golf in Asia could and should become and spent a great deal of time building the framework for golf in our region and beyond.

"That includes his extraordinary legacy with the PGA of Australia, a famous organisation of which he was president for a small matter of 32 years from 1962.

"He was a great writer, designer and raconteur ... all of which continue to shape how others view the sport and its place in Australian society."

Thomson was a prolific tournament champion around the world, winning the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open a staggering nine times.

He won the Open Championship five times between 1954-65 and is the only golfer to win a modern major three times in succession – the Open in 1954, 1955, and 1956.

He competed on the United States PGA Tour in 1953 and 1954 before winning the Texas International Open in 1956 and achieving his best finish in one of the three majors staged in the United States (fourth at the US Open) to finish ninth on the money list despite never fully committing to the American circuit.

He remains the only successful captain of the International team, having led it to the 1998 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Off the course, Thomson was active as a golf writer for 50 years, was an honorary member of Royal Melbourne and designed in excess of 100 golf courses in Australia and around the world.

The Victorian Sport Awards is the night of nights for the Victorian sporting community, recognising and celebrating the achievements of our home-grown premier athletes, grassroots heroes and those who have shown commitment and dedication to community sport in Victoria.

Presented by the State Government of Victoria and Vicsport on Wednesday at Marvel Stadium, the Victorian Sport Awards honours individual and team athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers from both metropolitan and regional Victoria.

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