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The PGA Championship

Tournament Info for: 1953 PGA Championship
Date: July 01 - 07, 1953
Site: Birmingham Country Club
Champion: Walter Burkemo
Purse: $20,700.00
Field: 63
Cut at:
Par: 36 - 35 - 71 (00 yards)
Players Advanced: 0

Qualifying for Match Play: A 36-hole qualifying round to get into match play was conducted the Wednesday and Thursday before the Championship. Jim Turnesa, the defending Champion, was exempt from qualifying, and Johnny Palmer was low qulifier with a 134. A score of 148 qualified for match play, with seven at 149 having a playoff for four spots. Some notable players who didn’t make the cut included Horton Smith(150), Lawson Little(151), Toney Penna(156), Henry Picard(WD) and Bob Hamilton(WD). The first and second rounds were 18 holes each, played in one day, with the remaining matches being played at 36 holes. Early matches: In the first day of play, Golf World called it “ Black Friday” as “a carnage of name players” were eliminated. Some upsets: Gene Sarazen bowing to Felice Torza, 2and 1; Jack Fleck upset by Wally Ulrich, 3-and-2; Vic Ghezzi nipped by Jimmy Clark, 2 and 1; Ed Oliver beaten in overtime by Henry Williams, 1-up, 20 holes; Jack Isaacs downing Chandler Harper, 4 and 3; Lew Worsham losing to Dave Douglas, 1-up, on the 20th hole; Pete Cooper beating 1952 runner-up Chick Harbert, 3and 2; Broyles Plemmons going to the 22nd hole to beat George Fazio, 1-up; and medalist Johnny Palmer being beaten by Jack Grout, 2 and 1. If that wasn’t bad enough, in the afternoon the only name players left found themselves eliminated: Jim Turnesa lost to Felice Torza, 4 and 3; Cary Middlecoff was trounced by Jimmy Clark, 5 and 4; Fred Haas was nipped by Jack Isaacs, 1-up; Tommy Bolt was beaten by Jackson Bradley, 2-up; Walter Burkemo won over Mike Turnesa, 3 and 1; Dutch Harrison lost a squeaker to Bill Nary, 1-up; and Jim Ferrier was a 3-and-2 loser to Ed Furgol. In the upset of the day, Sam Snead was beaten in 19 holes by Dave Douglas, who birdied the 16th hole to tie the match, halved 17 and 18, then made a six-footer for birdie at the first playoff hole to win, 1-up. In the third round, favorite Claude Harmon rolled by Ed Furgol, 5 and 3. In other matches, Bill Nary had the rout of the day in his 6-and-5 triumph over Jim Browning, while Jack Isaacs had an easy day, beating Labron Harris, 5 and 4. Jimmy Clark defeated Henry Williams, 4 and 3, while Walter Burkemo eliminated Pete Cooper, 3 and 2. Henry Ransom nipped Al Smith, 1-up, while Felice Torza took 38 holes to beat Wally Ulrich, 1-up. Another match decided on the 38th hole saw Dave Douglas, for the third match in a row, go into overtime to beat Jackson Bradley, 1-up. It was an exciting match as Douglas, 1-down with just two holes left, saved the match on the 35th hole by blasting out of a greenside bunker and one-putting for the half. He sent the match into overtime with a 30-footer for birdie at the final hole and won the match with another birdie at the 38th hole. In the quarter-finals, Claude Harmon had the easiest day with his 6-and-5 triumph over Bill Nary. After the morning round, Harmon was 1-down, but in the afternoon round, Harmon won eight of the first 10 holes and closed out the match on the 31st hole. The other three matches had outcomes decided on the final green. Felice Torza beat Jimmy Clark, 1-up, when Torza made a birdie at the final hole to win the contest. In a duel of veterans, Jack Isaacs also birdied the final hole to beat Henry Ransom, 1-up. In the match between Walter Burkemo and Dave Douglas, Burkemo had a 1-up lead going into the final hole and had just about wrapped things up when he put his second shot two feet away on the par-5 hole. But Douglas didn’t give up and also hit an incredible second shot to within six feet of the hole. When he missed his eagle attempt, he was forced to concede the hole to Burkemo. In the semifinals, both matches went the distance, with the contest between Felice Torza and Jack Isaacs going three extra holes before Torza pulled out a 1-up victory. Torza was 4-up after the 26th hole and it looked like he would be the winner, but when Torza bogeyed the 27th hole, I+saacs mounted a rally. Isaacs captured the 30th hole with a birdie, then the 31st with a Torza bogey, squaring the match at the 34th with a birdie. They halved the next two holes with pars to send the match into overtime. Both made birdies at the 37th hole and pars at the 38th, but when Isaacs was unable to match Torza’s par at the 39th, Torza won the contest. In the other match, a partisan crowd saw Detroit-born Burkemo come from behind to defeat Harmon, 1-up, even though Burkemo was 3-down with just 11 holes left. The rally started with a 35-footer for a birdie at the 26th hole. Burkemo continued the charge with a 15-foot birdie at the 28th. At the next hole, another birdie with a 7-footer sqared the match and Burkemo was forced to make another 7-footer at the 30th for a half. Harmon regained the lead at the 31st hole with a par, with the next hole being halved with birdies. The next two holes were halved with pars, but, at the 35th, Harmon was unable to make a 12-footer for par that would have halved the hole. So with the match square, Harmon tried to get home in two on the par-5 and was unsuccessful, hitting the ball into the creek in front of the green. Harmon took his penalty and almost holed his fourth shot, while Burkemo pitched his third shot 15 feet away. Harmon’s great recovery meant that Burkemo had to sink his putt or face a playoff. That is what Burkemo did, to the approval of the large crowd that swarmed onto the green to congratulate the victor. In the finals, over 10,000 people came to watch their new hero, Walter Burkemo, and they weren’t disappointed, as Burkemo defeated Felice Torza, 2 and 1. In the morning round, Burkemo shot a 1-over- par 72 but still held a 1-up lead over Torza’s 73. In the afternoon, Burkemo came out strong by starting his round with two birdies and a par to increase his lead to 2-up. Torza reduced the lead to 1-up on the back side with a bogey from Burkemo on the 29th hole, but his bogey at the 31st hole gave it back. Burkemo made bogeys at the 32nd and 34th holes to let Torza get within two holes, but with a par at the 35th hole he closed out the match.

Road to the Finals
Walter Burkemo beatRoundFelice Torza beat
Gene Sorazen,  2 and 1 Louis Barbaro,  7 and 5 First Round
(18 Holes)
Jim Tumesa,  4 and 3 Mike Tumesa,  3 and 1 Second Round
(18 Holes)
Wally Ulrich,  1-up (38) Pete Cooper,  3 and 2 Third Round
(18 Holes)
Jimmy Clark,  1-up Dave Douglas,  2-up Quarter Final
(36 Holes)
Jack Isaacs,  1-up (39) Claude Harmon,  1-up Semi Final
(36 Holes)
Max Evans     Tumesa
6 and 4
Jim Tumesa    
Gene Sorazen     Torza
2 and 1
Felice Torza    
Jack Fleck     Ulrich
3 and 2
Wally Ulrich    
Jack Shields     White
2-up
Buck White    
Jimmy Clark     Clark
2 and 1
Vic Ghezzi    
Jerry Barber     Middlecoff
2 and 1
Cary Middlecoff    
Charles Bassler     Bassler
2-up
Clarence Doser    
Ed Oliver     Chandler
Harper (J.H.) Chandler    
Jack Isaacs     Isaacs
4 and 3
Freddie Haas    
Toby Lyons     Furgol
5 and 3
Marty Furgol    
Milan Marusic     Harris
1-up (19)
Labron Harris    
Eddie Joseph     Hines
Jimmy Hines    
Al Smith     Smith
2 and 1
Stan Dudas    
Iverson Martin     Martin
6 and 5
Fred Baker    
Bob Toski     Toski
2 and 1
Milton Lichardus    
Henry Ransom     Ransom
3 and 2
Tommy Bolt    
Virgil Shreeve     Bradley
1-up
Jackson Bradley    
Ellsworth Vines     Douglas
1-up (20)
Dave Douglas    
Lew Worsham     Adams
Bennie Adams    
Sam Snead     Snead
6 and 5
Eric Monti    
Mike Tumesa     Tumesa
4 and 2
Louis Barbaro    
Walter Burkemo     Burkemo
7 and 5
Leonord Dodson    
Rod Munday     Cooper
3 and 2
Pete Cooper    
Chick Harbert     Klein
Chuck Klein    
Bill Nary     Nary
5 and 4
Dutch Harrison    
Chades Harter     Fazio
George Fazio    
Broyles Plemmons     Plemmons
1-up (22)
Jim Browning    
Elroy Marti     Furgol
1-up (20)
Ed Furgol    
Johnny Weitzel     Ferrier
1-up
Jim Ferrier    
Al Watrous     Harmon
4 and 2
Claude Harmon    
Ted Kroll     Grout
2 and 1
Jack Grout    
Johnny Palmer     Torza
4 and 3
 
 
Ulrich
2 and 1
 
 
Clark
5 and 4
 
 
Bassler
 
 
Isaacs
1-up
 
 
Harris
1-up
 
 
Smith
3 and 2
 
 
Ransom
3 and 2
 
 
Bradley
1-up
 
 
Douglas
1-up (19)
 
 
Burkemo
3 and 1
 
 
Cooper
6 and 5
 
 
Nary
1-up
 
 
Browning
3 and 1
 
 
Furgol
3 and 2
 
 
Harmon
4 and 2
 
Torza
1-up (38)
Clark
4 and 3
Isaacs
5 and 4
Bradley
Douglas
1-up (37)
Browning
Nary
6 and 5
Harmon
5 and 3
Torza
1-up
Burkemo
2-up
Harmon
6 and 5
Isaacs
 
 
Torza
1-up (39)
 
 
Burkemo
2 and 1
Burkemo
2 and 1