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Peter Thomson, five-time Open winner and golf great, dies aged 88

The five-time Open champion Peter Thomson has died aged 88. The first Australian to win the major died at his home in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, his family told PGA Australia (PGAA). Thomson had suffered from Parkinson's disease for more than four years, the body said. Aged 24, he became one of the youngest winners of the British Open Championship with a victory at Royal Birkdale in 1954. Thomson 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. Thomson in action circa 1970 Credit: Bob Thomas Sports Photography All-time record holder Harry Vardon won only one more British Open, with six victories between 1896 and 1914. Born Vale Peter Thomson on August 23 1929 in Brunswick, Victoria, he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf in 1979 and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). He was awarded an honorary degree from St Andrews University in 2005 alongside British stars Peter Alliss and Nick Faldo. (L-R) Thomson, Nick Faldo and Peter Alliss at St Andrews in 2005 to receive honorary degrees Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Thomson served as president of the PGAA for 32 years, during which time he also helped design and build courses in Australia and around the world. Throughout his life, he was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's, saying each player was a product of their times. But he was happy to share his opinions on almost anything else. In 2009, for example, in an interview with The Telegraph to mark his 80th birthday, he offered his forthright opinions on Tiger Woods, praising his application and technique but chastising him for his attitude in what quickly proved to be prescient fashion. Thomson at the 2011 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Course Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images "He will probably win five Opens in his career before he stops, but he's up against an increasing number of young people who are matching him. He will find it harder and harder," he said. "I will add one other thing. I wish he'd smile more. He injures his image by being morose and petulant. There is also very little consideration for the fellow he is playing with. He could show more humility." He is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, his 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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