The 94th Open | 1965 Royal Birkdale

Thomson ties Taylor and Braid with fifth Open win

Ever since it first hosted The Open in 1954, Royal Birkdale has been at the centre of some of the Championship's most iconic moments - and few can rival what happened in 1965.

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It was there on a soggy Friday that a 35-year-old Australian, who had put together arguably the finest stretch of results the famous Championship has ever seen, celebrated securing the Claret Jug for the fifth time.

Some sportsmen are destined for greatness and signs that Peter Thomson was heading straight for the top were there from day one.

He arrived at Royal Portrush for his first Open in 1951 as an unknown 21-year-old from the northern Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.

Max Faulkner may have been the Champion Golfer of the Year in the first Open to be contested outside of Scotland and England but Thomson, who finished tied-sixth, was the talk of the town.

There is no doubt Thomson learned a great deal from watching Faulkner that week on the Antrim coast and the Australian caught the eye with a superb Open debut. 

His talent was obvious from the off but what he went on to achieve was extraordinary. 

Links golf can be a tough craft to learn but Thomson was a Champion Golfer of the Year within 36 months of his debut, holding off Bobby Locke, Dai Rees and Syd Scott at Royal Birkdale in 1954

It sparked a run of four Open titles in five years, and he was second to Locke in 1957, before he made it a quintet in 1965. Only Harry Vardon has won more.

Thomson's victory at The 94th Open was perhaps his most meaningful because it came when his career was seemingly on the slide. 

The emergence of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player dawned an era in the 1960s and they all took to The Open like fish to water. 

Player won his first Claret Jug in 1959, Palmer became a back-to-back Champion in 1961 and 1962 and by the time he teed up at Royal Birkdale in 1965, Nicklaus was a four-time Major winner who had finished runner-up at The Open a year prior. 

Palmer was well-placed after the first 36 holes in the 94th Open, sitting just one shot off the lead, while Thomson was a stroke further back after a second-round 68.

However, the second day brought tough conditions and Thomson knew then he was in with a chance. 

Palmer scored 75-79 and dropped to 16th, while Nicklaus also struggled, with rounds of 77 and 73, seeing his chances of a first Open win fade. 

Thomson, a month shy of his 36th birthday, used all his nous and experience to negotiate the conditions, coming home in 72 in round three to take a one-stroke lead. 

The Australian led by three shots early on the back nine but the closing stages of an Open are never straightforward and defending Champion Tony Lema mounted a strong charge. 

The American almost tied for the lead on the 16th green but narrowly missed a birdie putt, before Thomson finished like a true Champion, birdieing each of the final two holes to make sure of his victory.

Lema closed with a six and slipped to fifth, as Thomson triumphed by two from Brian Huggett and Christy O'Connor Snr.

His victory moved him level with J.H. Taylor and James Braid in winning the Claret Jug five times, a tally that has only since been matched by Tom Watson and is only beaten by Harry Vardon's six.

Later in his life, Thomson admitted: "For the last 40 years I've been ignoring them, but I'm now beginning to be a bit more proud of myself.

"I didn't want to be a public star. I had a very joyful time, playing a game that I loved for the sheer pleasure of it. I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life."