Family of Peter Thomson says 5-time British Open winner dies

Former British Open Champions Australia's Peter Thompson, left, and Arnold Palmer of the U.S. talk before the group photo of the former champions on the 1st tee on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, Tuesday, July 13, 2010. 28 Champions have accepted the invitation to play four holes of the Old Course on Wednesday 14 July, the day before the Open Championship gets underway. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win the British Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.