Five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson dies aged 88

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Peter Thomson, Australia's five-time British Open champion, has died aged 88

The first Australian player to win the Open Championship major died at his home in Melbourne at 9am local time on Wednesday, his family told PGA Australia (PGAA).

Thomson had suffered from Parkinson's disease for more than four years, the body said.

Aged 24, Thomson became one of the youngest winners of the British Open Championship with a victory at Royal Birkdale in 1954.

He went on to win the Claret Jug a further four times over the next decade, a record only matched by the US's Tom Watson and Scotsman James Braid in the 20th century.

Born Vale Peter Thomson on August 23, 1929, in Brunswick, Victoria, he began playing professionally at 19 and won his first open in New Zealand in 1950, a competition he would win on a further eight occasions.

His British Open victories, which came in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1965 were among 89 professional tournament wins during his career. He was the only player in the 20th century to win the Open three times in a row.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, released a statement about the five time champion. “It is with great sadness that we have awoken to the news of the passing of Peter Thomson.

“Peter was a true gentleman and will be forever remembered throughout the world of golf as one of the great champions of our wonderful sport. He was a distinguished Honorary Member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and will be sorely missed by all of us at The R&A. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.

"Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf.

“He was one of the most decorated and celebrated Champion Golfers in the history of The Open, winning the Championship five times in total and becoming the only golfer of the 20th century to lift the Claret Jug on three consecutive occasions between 1954 and 1956.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Peter’s wife, Mary, and his four children, Diana, Peta-Ann, Fiona and Andrew.”