April 17, 2011 by staff
Malaysian Open, The five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson played an important role in initiating the Malaysian Open 50 years ago. And he is surprised that has grown to become one of the main events in Asia.
The great Australian, who also played in the inaugural tournament, is a special guest as the Malaysia Open is celebrating its 50 Th at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club this week.
“I came here in 1961, not everyone remembers,” said the 81-year-old, who is the only man in the 20th century to win three consecutive British Open titles.
“Kel Nagle and I, he was the British Open champion of 1960, we played a game at the Royal Selangor (Golf Club).
“About 500 or 600 people came to watch the game and my secret intention was to attract clubs to have a golf event Open.
“I said to Nobby Clarke, who captained the club then,” if we could get a crowd like this for both of us, think how many more would come if we have a field of 150 players.
“Nobby then said he did not have anyone to come here to play and I said I’ll play and I’ll bring a few more and we would get a budget to start the Malaysian Open. This is how we started.”
Thomson was thoroughly impressed with the stature of the Malaysian Open this year.
With a record prize of U.S. and 2.5mil, the tournament also featured a stellar cast, which includes three of the four Major champions and current world number one 1.
Charl Schwartzel won Masters, British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer, who is also the current world number one 1, were among the stars. Thomson said the first years of the Malaysian Open were a challenge, especially when it came to sponsorship.
“In recent years, we fought. We had a real difficulty of finding sponsors to be lucrative for players around the world to come and play,” he said.
“So we thought that if we start small, we would grow a lot. And here we are … in 50 years. It’s really great. I have not seen a media center larger than we have here this week.”
Thomson also shared some nuggets from their past experiences in the Malaysian Open.
“I am delighted to be here. I have good memories and made a lot of lifelong friends here.
“That is a reward in itself.
“I am delighted to be back in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Thomson did not win the Malaysian Open, but won the Open in India, Hong Kong Open and the Open in the Philippines during its heyday. His British Open victories in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1965.
Asked what prompted him to win five times at the British Open, Thomson shared: “I can not remember how much I had won, but not enough to buy a Jaguar car.
“The salesman told me there was not enough and I had to go back (to the Open) and win another and when I did, I went to see the seller again and I have not yet said enough!
“So I went there to win again. That was how it was, if you can believe.”
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