84th Open - St Andrews 1955
Peter Thomson starts the Australian challenge
Even on the unpredictable terrain of a British links, Peter Thomson played such steady and resolute golf that it was no surprise that for seven years in a row he was either first or second. At St Andrews in 1955 the 25-year-old Australian successfully defended his title for the second of five victories. His final round of 72, after earlier scores of 71, 68 and 70, was not without a moment of anguish, however. At the 14th he found trouble in the Beardies and took a double-bogey 7. But unflustered as ever, Thomson birdied the next hole and won by two strokes from John Fallon. His total of 281 set a new record for an Open at St Andrews, beating Bobby Jones’s old mark from 1927 by four strokes.
Fallon had only previously finished high in an Open when he was third also at St Andrews in 1939. His 67 in the second round equaled the record for the Old Course. Frank Jowle, who finished third a shot behind Fallon, also set a new record but in qualifying, when he lowered the best score on the New Course by six strokes to 63.
Perennial challenger Bobby Locke was fourth but the much of the gallery followed the 43-year-old Byron Nelson, who finished tied for 32nd place, 15 strokes behind Thomson. Nelson had only previously played in the 1937 Open at Carnoustie, when he was fifth, but almost a decade after retiring from regular tournament play he was on a golfing vacation in Europe, during which he won the French Open.
Thomson’s prize of £1,000 was the first time a four-figure cheque was issued to the Champion and this was the first Open to be televised on the BBC, which broadcast parts of the final round.
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