83rd Open - Royal Birkdale 1954
Thomson takes first Open
Peter Thomson became the first Australian to win The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1954. Jim Ferrier, at the 1947 PGA Championship, was the only other Australian-born player to win a Major at the time. Thomson dominated The Open. He was sixth on his debut in 1951 and then was a runner-up for the next two years. His victory at Birkdale was the first of three in a row and five in all.
The Southport course had been brought up to Open standard in 1935 and was due to host the 1940 Open which was cancelled due to the war. It finally made its debut 14 years later. Ben Hogan did not travel back to Britain to defend his title but with a round to play three-time Champion Bobby Locke was two strokes behind the trio of Thomson, after rounds of 72, 71 and 69, Syd Scott and Dai Rees.
Scott, from what is now Cumbria, set a new course record of 67 in the second round and closed with a 72 to set the target at 284. Rees could not get up and down at the last so also had a 72, the second of three runner-up finishes for the Welshman.
Thomson found himself on the steep slope of a bunker at the 16th, 25 yards from the flagstick. With his feet together in an awkward stance, and his eyes closed, he thumped the ball high in the air and it stuck virtually where it landed, just inches from the hole. “That won it for me, no doubt,” he said. “Had I made a mess of that one, I’d have been a goner.” The 24-year-old was also in a bunker at the last but a 71 put him one ahead on 283. Locke managed a 70 but could only join the other runners-up.
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