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On this Day: July 5, 1958 & 1981

Jan Stephenson and Peter Thomson each won majors on this day.
Today, July 5th, is one of the great days in Australian golfing history with major championship titles being won by Australians of both genders, albeit 23 years apart.

Jan Stephenson (pictured below) and Peter Thomson won their first and fourth major championships in 1981 and 1958 respectively on this day when successful at the Peter Jackson Classic and the Open Championship.

Through 72 holes at the 1958 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Thomson was tied with Welshman Dave Thomas before defeating the 22-year-old by four shots in a 36-hole playoff the following day.

Thomson had led through 18 holes of regulation play, trailed by three through 36 and then, with the final 36 holes played on the one day, Thomas and Thomson entered the final day tied for third, three shots behind Ireland’s golfing legend Christy O’Connor.

Thomson reeled off a brilliant 67 in the morning to open up a two-shot lead over Thomas and Belgian Flory Von Dock.

Before long, however, Thomson and Thomas were tied after Thomas birdied the first and Thomson bogeyed the third although Thomson would birdie the fifth and sixth to reinstate his lead.

When Thomson double bogeyed the 15th hole, the pair were tied and, in fact, Thomas would go one ahead when he birdied the 16th but Scot, Eric Brown, was still very much in the mix before he double bogeyed the final hole to miss a playoff by one.

Thomas bogeyed the 17th and walked to the 18th all square with Thomson. They would both par the final hole although Thomson missed a great opportunity for victory when he missed a 10-foot birdie putt.

The 36-hole playoff was tight for much of the way before Thomson edged clear over the final nine holes, helped in no small way by Thomas double-hitting a chip from behind the green at the par-five 11th and calling a shot on himself.

Thomson would go on to win by four and complete his fourth Open title in five years. He had also been runner-up in 1952, 1953 and 1957, which meant he had finished either first or second in seven consecutive Opens.

Thomson holds the Claret Jug after securing his fifth and final Open Championship in 1965.

It would be another seven years before he would win his fifth but Peter Thomson’s record at the Open Championship is one of the greatest in the event’s history and only Harry Vardon (six) has won more.  

Stephenson's 1981 Peter Jackson Classic win came at the Summerlea Golf and Country Club in Montreal, Canada, and was the first of three major titles in three consecutive years for the Sydney golfer.

The Peter Jackson Classic became a major in 1979 and would later be known as the Du Maurier Classic and the Canadian Women’s Open, and lost its major status when the Women’s British Open was elevated to that status in 2001. The issues surrounding tobacco advertising and the growing prestige of the Women’s British Open made the decision inevitable.

Despite a final round of 73, Stephenson, who had won five LPGA Tour titles and two Australian Ladies Open titles earlier in her career, held on to defeat LPGA legends, Pat Bradley and Nancy Lopez, by one shot.

Stephenson sits second to only Karrie Webb in terms of Australia’s female golfing greats, adding an LPGA Championship and a US Women’s Open to her outstanding list of victories worldwide.

Stephenson and Webb are the only two Australians to win major championship titles in women’s golf and although Stephenson’s latter career was curtailed by an injury she incurred during a robbery in Miami in 1990, she was a trailblazer for Australian women's golf in the US.   


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