AAP Golf

Thomson one of the all-time greats: Spieth

By AAP Newswire

Reigning British Open champion Jordan Spieth has paid tribute to "one of the most masterful links players" to ever play the game after the death of Peter Thomson.

The Australian, who died aged 88 having suffered from Parkinson's disease for more than four years, won the first of his five Claret Jugs at Royal Birkdale in 1954.

He went on to win the Open a further four times over the next decade, a record only matched by the United States' Tom Watson and Scotsman James Braid in the 20th century, to be listed behind only the all-time record holder Harry Vardon - who registered six victories between 1896 and 1914.

"Obviously I am very saddened by his passing, but what a legacy he has left," said Spieth.

"He looked like someone who was so proud of the Open Championship, someone who singled that tournament out as a specialty and his game certainly showed that.

"I remember seeing one picture of him hugging the Claret Jug so close to his face with a smile of pure joy.

"You don't see that, even in major championships, of guys with trophies, but you could see how much that tournament meant to him,

"Certainly he is one of, if not the, most masterful links players to play the game.

Those sentiments were echoed by the R&A, organisers of the British Open, who recognised one of the great champions of the sport.

"It is with great sadness that we have awoken to the news of the passing of Peter Thomson," said chief executive Martin Slumbers.

"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.

"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."

Countryman Greg Norman, who won the Open twice, also paid tribute.

"There have been many individuals who have touched the game of golf, none more so than Peter Thomson in his era," Norman said in a statement.

"Australian golf was the benefactor of his five Open championships, which in turn paved the way for golfers like Bruce Devlin, David Graham, Ian Baker-Finch, Jason Day, Adam Scott and myself.

"With his passing, so too as an era.

"His life off the course deserves equal, having transitioned to a scribe for The Age, then politics, which is not something many golfers before or after him have accomplished.

"He will be missed. My thoughts are with (wife) Mary and his family."