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Amateur golfing standout Rosemary Thompson dies at age 76

Rosemary Thompson, an accomplished amateur golfer who won the 1992 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship with a 54-hole record score (4-over 220), died in her Four Hils home on Feb. 1.

She was 76. The cause of death was not known, her friends Diane Houston and Tom DeCoster said Thursday.

Thompson, a University of New Mexico alumna originally from Cornwall, Ontario, in Canada, described her golf swing as, “short, fast and flat; but effective.” She used it to set unprecedented marks in Albuquerque and Texas.

Thompson, formerly Phillips, won the Four Hills Country Club women’s championship a record 27 times, and captured the Albuquerque Women’s City Championship 10 times, also a record. She also won the Southwestern and New Mexico Senior Women’s Championships a record 13 times for each.

From 1972-1997, Thompson broke 18 course records, including a 63 in 1992 that still remains untouched at Four Hills Country Club on the women’s red course.

Thompson’s quirky golf swing also resulted in 13 holes-in-one.

“She was obviously a very accomplished amateur golfer,” said DeCoster, a USGA volunteer committee member who is also a Sun Country Amateur Golf Association committee member. “Very friendly, confident and a strong competitor. She was gracious in defeat, but that was not frequent. She definitely preferred to win and usually did.”

She was inducted into sports hall of fames in Albuquerque, Amarillo/Panhandle of Texas and Cornwall.

Thompson’s USGA Senior Women’s Championship wasn’t the only achievement that made 1992 a big year for her. She also won the New Mexico Amateur in 1992 and became the only person to ever accomplish that double of winning the New Mexico and national senior crowns.

That USGA Senior Women’s Championship was huge, as she did it in record fashion and held off three-time champion Anne Sander, who finished three strokes behind. Sander was also a three-time runner-up in the event.

Thompson’s record-low score of 220 still stands. The event switched to a match-play format eight years ago. A plaque and a photo commemorating her performance is displayed at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.

Also in 1992, she was Golf World Magazine’s Amateur Senior Women’s National Golfer of the Year.

“She left an indelible mark on the golf landscape of the Southwest for 50 years, establishing a standard for competitiveness and accomplishment for golf, women’s golf and senior women’s golf that is unequalled,” DeCoster said.

Thompson, who won 21 SCAGA tournament championships, including four New Mexico state titles, was named SCAGA Golfer of the Year (for men and women) in 1985 and 1992.

Houston said she felt very lucky to have known Thompson as both a special friend and a competitive golfer. Houston also considered Thompson a mentor. The two spoke every day.

“I will miss her,” Houston said. “I already do.”

Houston, who also lives in the Four Hills area, helped Thompson in recent years as Thompson dealt with health problems, Houston said.

For over the past 25 years, Houston knew Thompson to help others that wanted to learn about golf or wanted to improve their game.

“I learned a lot from her,” Houston said. “She was an outstanding individual on and off the golf course. She was the most competitive person I ever met in my life. I say that in a good way. I played a lot of golf with her.”

Houston also noted that Thompson had been a survivor of breast cancer and considered that her greatest win.

No memorial services have been planned, Houston said.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Thompson’s name to the National Breast Cancer Organization or the USGA.