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Tee For Two

Sunday Herald-Sun
Peter Mitchell
Journalist and Channel 7 News Reader
Peter Thompson
Five Times British Open Champion
Several years ago, I wrote a biography on Australia's greatest golfer, Peter Thomson, but I had not played golf with him.

I wanted to find out if he had embraced the world of titanium woods, carbon-fibre shafts and broomstick putters. Would he swear if he missed a short one?

Was his love for the game as strong as in 1950s and '60s, when he took professional golf around the globe and set the pattern for today's world tour? At 67, could he still score something near par?

And I wanted the opportunity to play alongside a Melbournian who won the unofficial world championship of golf, the British Open, five times.

The organizing was the easy bit.
Yes, I could join him in a round at Royal Melbourne.
"At least at Royal Melbourne we'll have plenty of room." He said.
I couldn't help remembering the last time I played at Royal Melbourne. The 1992 Johnnie Walker Classic pro-am. I lost five balls and nearly killed a spectator.
"At least we'll have plenty of room." I kept thinking.
With the weather fine, my golf shoes polished three times and my clubs twice, I headed off with the parting words of my wife ringing in my ears. "Have fun." She said. "Remember, you're only playing with a five times British Open champion!"
Happily, I discovered it's easy playing golf with Peter Thomson.
I know it wasn't always so for those who came up against him at the height of his professional powers, but for this social round, Thomson was as far removed from a five times British Open champion as you could get.

At the par-five 15th, Thomson rolled in his third long-distance putt in succession, this time for birdie.
"Oh, that felt nice," he said, gleefully.
I started to take a keen interest in his putter.
It was a mallet-headed variety, but superbly crafted from timber.
"Made right here in Melbourne," he said proudly. "And do you know it's the only putter I've ever found that has the face ahead of the hands at address. I prefer them that way. This is a beautiful putter... hand-made."
I shuddered to think how many Opens he might have won if he'd had a 'Drop Putter' in his hands.

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