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St Andrews to honour golfing greats

The best known voice in golf, Britain’s most prolific Major winner of the modern era, the biggest-hitting lady golfer and a five-times Open champion are all to be honoured by Scotland’s oldest university.

The University of St Andrews will next month confer Honorary Degrees on Peter Alliss, Nick Faldo, Laura Davies and Peter Thomson in a public Graduation Ceremony to be staged on the eve of the 134th Open Championship at St Andrews.

The public are warmly invited to attend the Ceremony in the Younger Hall, St Andrews, on Tuesday July 12th 2005 at 11 a.m., doors open at 10.15 a.m.

Peter Alliss was born in 1931, the son of famous British Professional Percy Alliss, one of Britain’s leading professionals between 1920 and 1939.

He has twice been Captain of the Professional Golfers’ Association and was the first President of the European Women’s Professional Golfers Association, as well as past President of the British Greenkeepers’ Association.

Peter is recognised around the world for his unique and warm style of television commentary. He broadcasts for ABC in the United States and the BBC in Europe, as well as working for the Australian and Canadian Broadcasting Corporations.

He was the host of 140 Pro Celebrity Golf television programmes made by the BBC between the years of 1974 and 1988 and was also the host of another very successful series entitled “Around with Alliss”.

His most recent television series, “A Golfer’s Travels”, is still being shown on worldwide television.

He has written 20 books, the latest being Golf Heroes, and also writes regularly for Golf International and Golf World Magazine.

Nick Faldo was 13 years old when he watched Jack Nicklaus on TV at the 1971 Masters. Cycling had been his sport to that point, but after watching Nicklaus, Faldo turned to golf. He borrowed some clubs, his mother arranged lessons, and two years later he was winning amateur tournaments.

Faldo won the English Amateur Championship in 1974 and the British Youth Championships in 1975. He turned pro in 1976, and in 1977 claimed his first European Tour victory. Also in 1977, he played the first of his record 11 Ryder Cups becoming the youngest ever (age 20) to compete in the event. Faldo still holds the European record for points earned.

In the mid to late 80s he took the courageous decision to completely re-work his swing. The hard work culminated with his victory at the 1987 British Open, where he made 18 pars in the final round.

He went on to win the Open Championship twice more, and added three Masters. The last came in 1996, when Faldo came from six shots back to overtake Greg Norman in the final round.

In all, Faldo has won 30 times on the European Tour, six times on the U.S. PGA Tour, and has six majors to his name.

His business interests include course design, golf academies and media commentary.

Laura Davies is recognised as the doyenne of Britain’s female golfers. Her outstanding career began in the 1980s in record-breaking fashion as she lifted both the British and US Open titles. Shortly afterwards she won tournaments in Europe, USA and Japan and became the first woman ever to win on all three major Tours in the same year.

In recognition of her early success, Laura was awarded the MBE in 1998, but in order to accept the honour from the Queen, she missed the practice days for that week’s Biarritz Open. Despite having never seen the course before, Laura went on to win the tournament, capping a memorable week. Laura was awarded the CBE in 2000, a testament to her continued outstanding career and to her impact on ladies’ golf around the world.

In 1994 Laura became the first European player to be ranked number one in the world and the first non- American to finish top of the US LPGA money list. During that year she won seven tournaments around the world and collected over $1 million in prize money. In 1995 she again won seven times, including setting two world records in the Irish Open, namely for lowest score to par (25 under) and biggest winning margin (16 shots). 1996 saw another record broken, this time for most prize money won in a season and in 1997 Laura became the first female professional ever to win the same tournament four years in succession when she captured the Standard Register Ping Championship in Phoenix, which was also the 50th victory of her professional career.

Laura has been the lynchpin of every European Solheim Cup team and has helped the team to three memorable wins over the USA, in 1994, 2000 and 2003.

One of the most laid-back and approachable champions in any sport, Laura’s generosity was demonstrated in 1994, when she won the Thailand Open and was given a diamond necklace as part of her prize, which she duly presented to her local female caddy.

Known as a long hitter, Laura’s longest measured drive was during the JC Penney Skins game in 1998, when she launched the ball 378 yards off the tee.

Laura Davies was born on 5th October 1963, has won almost 70 tournaments worldwide and loves all competitive sport, being a passionate Liverpool supporter. She lives in Surrey.

Peter Thomson is the greatest Australian golfer of them all and is regarded as one of the world’s best links golfers.

While he played sparingly in the U.S., Thomson won often in his native Australia, in Europe and in Asia during his best years in the 1950s. During one stretch – 1952 to 1958 – Thomson finished no worse than second in the Open Championship, winning four times.

Thomson took up golf at age 12, and by age 15 was club champion at his local golf club. He studied to be an industrial chemist and took a job with Spalding, but gave it up in 1949 to become a professional golfer.

He finished second at the 1952 and ’53 Open Championships, then won in 1954, ’55, and ’56 – the only golfer in the 20th Century to win the British Open three straight years. He added another win in 1958.

His final British Open title came in 1965, and it is considered his most important. In the ’50s, only a handful of America’s best players travelled to play the Open, and then only occasionally.

By 1965, all the world’s best were there, and Thomson held off Palmer, Nicklaus, Player and defending champ Tony Lema for the victory.

Thomson won once on the U.S. PGA Tour, and his best finish in U.S. majors was fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times. His winning finally ended in 1988 with the British PGA Seniors title.

Before that, however, he did venture to America and played a full season on the Senior PGA Tour. Even in the twilight of his playing career, he dominated, winning nine times in 1985.

Thomson had a rhythmic, seemingly effortless swing, and an excellent putting touch, and was known for his cold calculation on the golf course.

He served as president of the Australian PGA from 1962 to 1994. In 1998, Thomson captained the International team to victory in the Presidents Cup. He has also built a thriving golf course design business.

Alliss, Faldo, Davies and Thomson will join an elite band of golfers and golf professionals to be honoured by the University of St Andrews. Honorary Graduates include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros.

Entry to the Graduation Ceremony on July 12th is free and members of the public wishing to attend are asked to reserve tickets by contacting Joyce Scott at Old Union, 79 North Street, St Andrews, tel 01334 462110, e-mail js10@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews. Contact : Niall Scott, tel 01334 462244, mobile 07711 223062

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