Australian Peter Thomson rehearsed for is role as senior tournament winner for nearly three years. Forty tournaments later, he got the part. Once he got the hang of it, Peter was a smash it.
Incredibly, Thomson won nine senior tournaments in 1985. You're fittingly seized with the magnitude of this feat when you realize that no other golfer has surpassed that total in 35 years.
You have to flip the record book pages back to 1950 when the legendary Sam Snead won 10 tournaments on the regular tour.
Thomson began his blitzkrieg last year by overrunning Southern California, winning the Vintage (Palm Desert), Carta Blanca Johnny Mathis (Los Angeles) and the MONY Senior Tournament of Champions.
Asked about his proclivity for winning in this area, Thomson said with a straight face: "I really don't know; it must be the air here."
Elsewhere, he won the Champions Classic, Senior Reunion, Syracuse Seniors, Du Maurier Classic, United Virginia Bank Classic and Suntree Senior.
Thomson can expect sterner competition in the $100,000 event which will be played Jan. 8-11 at the beautiful La Costa Country Club near Carlsbad, Calif. Thirty-one Tour champions concurrently will compete in the prestigious $500,000 MONY Tournament of Champions.
Peter's principal rival will be rookie Gary Player, who turned 50 last November and won his first senior event three weeks later. Of course, Arnold Palmer, Don January, Lee Elder, Miller Barber and Orville Moody, among others, can hardly be called patsies.
Playing in his first MONY Senior T of C, Thomson, 56, won in wire-to-wire fashion. "This is agony," he said after the victory. "I'm far too old for this sort of thing," he added with a wry smile. "But I really enjoy it. It gives me a thrill to be involved in a run to the post. Leading from start to finish is not easy. You don't sleep too well. No matter what has happened in prior rounds, it's not settled until the last day."
The Melbourne native shot rounds of 70-70-71-73--284, four-under par. He beat Don January and Dan Sikes by three strokes and established 36-hole, 54-hole and 72-hole records.
His $30,000 first prize at La Costa almost equaled his entire rookie earnings of $31,391 in 1982. Still winless, he advanced to $59,758 in 1983 and jumped to $228,940 in 1984, thanks greatly to his first two late-season victories.
Understandably, Thomson amassed a record $386,723 in earnings last year, eclipsing January's previous high-dollar mark of $328,597.
The unassuming Aussie admitted his awesome success was beyond his anticipation and comprehension. "Actually, my goal is to make the top 10 each week," he said. He has done that admirably. In 22 official tournaments, he's missed his announced objective just twice. At one stage, a long one, to be sure, he had a streak of 17 consecutive top 10 finishes.