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A case of ‘what’s in a name?’

One of the great  things about immersing myself in sports crossword compilation is that it also allows me to indulge in a bit of  reminiscing.

Just as trying to find a topical clue might trigger memories from my journey as a sports journalist, current events also often prompt me to recall some of the more offbeat highlights.

Such was the case this past week as the US Open somehow had me looking forward to the British Open – and thinking back to the time when, working for Wellington’s Evening Post, I met my celebrated namesake at a golf tournament in New Zealand.

Having a famous sporting namesake – yes, five more British Opens than me – can be a tiresome business (all those lame jokes … “not THE Peter Thomson?”).

But it can also have its upside – as I was reminded when I came across the great man’s name as the only Australian to win the British Open at this year’s venue, Royal Lytham & St Annes (the fourth of his five, incidentally, in 1958).

It was while covering the 1972 City of Auckland Classic (won by Jack Newton and featuring a former US Masters champion in George Archer) that I had the privilege of meeting THE Peter Thomson (from memory, he was by then writing for Melbourne’s The Age newspaper).

Having, I suspect, rather bored him with my namesake “woes” – and had our photo taken together for a US golf magazine – he proceeded to recount one of the more humbling experiences of his glittering golf career.

Some years previous, Thomson recalled, he had been playing in a pro-am tournament in the north of England that happened to also feature a Liverpool and England soccer star of the time – one Peter Thom(p)son.

Coming off the 18th green, there was the usual bunch of kids chasing autographs and the British Open legend duly obliged – only to be taken aback when he overheard a couple of them comparing notes.

“Whose autograph have you got?” asked one.

“Peter Thomson”.

“Not THE Peter Thomson?”

“No, the golfer …”

— Peter Thomson




2 Responses to A case of ‘what’s in a name?’

  • Graeme says:

    No, THE Peter Thompson was a sports journalist with THE Evening Post.

  • Robert Messenger says:

    Thomson did indeed work for The Age. He was always considered a fully-qualified, trained journalist, not merely a contributor. Before entering journalism, I believe he had some sort of science background/qualifications. As a professional journalist, he became quite litigious, and on one occasion in 1972 threatened to sue The Australian over comments made by Kel Nagle to a reporter, Robert Messenger, regarding an “industrial dispute” between the PGA and the Australian Golf Union (had to do with scheduling, as I recall). Anyway, Frank Shaw, who took care of legal matters for News Ltd back then, was concerned because Thomson could claim “prejudice” on the grounds of having a won earlier settlement from Murdoch. Just reminiscing …

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