1953 PGA Championship Winner and Scores

The 1953 PGA Championship was the 35th time this major was played. It was won by a local club pro who was regularly in contention in PGA Championships for most of the 1950s.

Winner: Walter Burkemo (def. Felice Torza in championship match)

Semifinalists: Felice Torza def. Jack Isaacs; Walter Burkemo def. Claude Harmon (all match scores below)

Where it was played: Birmingham Country Club in Birmingham, Michigan

Tournament dates: July 1-7, 1953

What Happened at the 1953 PGA Championship

Walter Burkemo won only two PGA Tour titles, but in the 1950s, the last decade of the tournament's match-play era, he was one of the better PGA Championship players: second in 1951 and 1954; out in the semifinals in 1957; and out in the round of 16 in 1952 and 1956. And winner of the 1953 PGA Championship. Burkemo beat Felice Torza, who never won on the PGA Tour, in the 36-hole title match, 2 and 1.

To reach the finals, Torza beat Gene Sarazen, defending champion Jim Turnesa, Wally Ulrich, Jimmy Clark and Jack Isaacs; Burkemo defeated Louis Barbaro, Mike Turnesa, Pete Cooper, Dave Douglas and Claude Harmon.

Burkemo had a 1-up lead over Torza after 18 holes of the 36-hole title match. Burkemo started strong in the afternoon and eventually built a 4-up lead. He bogeyed the 32nd and 34th holes, reducing his lead to 2-up. But Burkemo won the 35th hole to close out the match. At the time, Burkemo was employed as the head professional at Franklin Hills Country Club in the Detroit area, a club just six miles away from Birmingham Country Club, where the 1953 PGA was played.

The biggest name in the field at the 1953 PGA was Sam Snead, but Snead lost in the second round to Dave Douglas. No past champion advanced past the second round of match play.

The 1953 season is the one in which Ben Hogan won all three majors he entered. This PGA Championship is the one of the four Hogan didn't play. Hogan decided to play in the 1953 British Open, and he had to leave early to get to Britain in time for qualifying. That meant he couldn't stick around to play the PGA, whose final day conflicted with the start of Open Championship qualifying. Even if the scheduling and travel was more manageable, it's very unlikely Hogan would have played the PGA. After winning the 1948 PGA Championship, Hogan never played it again in its match-play incarnation (he played three more times in the 1960s after the tournament switched to stroke play). The PGA Championship at match play required multiple days of 36 holes of golf, but after his near-fatal car crash in 1949, that punishing schedule was something Hogan, with lingering pain in his legs, avoided.

Hogan's wins in the other three majors combined with Burkemo's victory here meant all four professional majors were won by Americans, only the second time that had happened. Jerry Barber, winner of the 1961 PGA Championship, played the tournament for the first time this year, going out in the first round. Tommy Bolt, winner of the 1958 U.S. Open, also made his tournament debut in the PGA here and lost in the second round.

Match Scores at the 1953 PGA Championship

First Round (18 holes)
Jim Turnesa def. Max Evans, 6 and 4
Felice Torza def. Gene Sarazen, 2 and 1
Wally Ulrich def. Jack Fleck, 3 and 2
Buck White def. Jack Shields, 2-up
Jimmy Clark def. Vic Ghezzi, 2 and 1
Cary Middlecoff def. Jerry Barber, 2 and 1
Charles Bassler def. Clarence Doser, 2-up
Henry Williams Jr. def. Ed Oliver, 1-up (20 holes)
Jack Isaacs def. Chandler Harper, 4 and 3
Fred Haas Jr. def. Toby Lyons, 1-up (20 holes)
Marty Furgol def. Milan Marusic, 5 and 3
Labron Harris Sr. def. Eddie Joseph, 1-up (19 holes)
Al Smith def. Jimmy Hines, 2 and 1
Iverson Martin def. Stan Dudas, 6 and 5
Bob Toski def. Fred Baker, 2 and 1
Henry Ransom def. Milton Lichardus, 3 and 2
Tommy Bolt def. Virgil Shreeve, 3 and 2
Jackson Bradley def. Ellsworth Vines, 1-up
Dave Douglas def. Lew Worsham, 1-up (20 holes)
Sam Snead def. Bennie Adams, 6 and 5
Mike Turnesa def. Eric Monti, 4 and 2
Walter Burkemo def. Lou Barbaro, 7 and 5
Leonard Dodson def. Rod Munday, 3 and 1
Pete Cooper def. Chick Harbert, 3 and 2
Bill Nary def. Chuck Klein, 5 and 4
Dutch Harrison def. Charles Harter, 3 and 2
Broyles Plemmons def. George Fazio, 1-up (22 holes)
Jim Browning def. Elroy Marti, 2 and 1
Ed Furgol def. Johnny Weitzel, 1-up (20 holes)
Jim Ferrier def. Al Watrous, 1-up
Claude Harmon def. Ted Kroll, 4 and 2
Jack Grout def. Johnny Palmer, 2 and 1

Second Round (18 holes)
Felice Torza def. Jim Turnesa, 4 and 3
Wally Ulrich def. Buck White, 2 and 1
Jimmy Clark def. Cary Middlecoff, 5 and 4
Henry Williams Jr. def. Charles Bassler, 3 and 1
Jack Isaacs def. Fred Haas Jr., 1-up
Labron Harris Sr. def. Marty Furgol, 1-up
Al Smith def. Iverson Martin, 3 and 2
Henry Ransom def. Bob Toski, 3 and 2
Jackson Bradley def. Tommy Bolt, 1-up
Dave Douglas def. Sam Snead, 1-up (19 holes)
Walter Burkemo def. Mike Turnesa, 3 and 1
Pete Cooper def. Leonard Dodson, 6 and 5
Bill Nary def. Dutch Harrison, 1-up
Jim Browning def. Broyles Plemmons, 3 and 1
Ed Furgol def. Jim Ferrier, 3 and 2
Claude Harmon def. Jack Grout, 4 and 2

Round of 16 (36 holes)
Felice Torza def. Wally Ulrich, 1-up (38 holes)
Jimmy Clark def. Henry Williams Jr., 4 and 3
Jack Isaacs def. Lebron Harris, 5 and 4
Henry Ransom def. Al Smith, 1-up
Dave Douglas def. Jackson Bradley, 1-up (37 holes)
Walter Burkemo def. Pete Cooper, 3 and 2
Bill Nary def. Jim Browning, 6 and 5
Claude Harmon def. Ed Furgol, 5 and 3

Quarterfinals (36 holes)
Felice Torza def. Jimmy Clark, 1-up
Jack Isaacs def. Henry Ransom, 1-up
Claude Harmon def. Bill Nary, 6 and 5
Walter Burkemo def. Dave Douglas, 2-up

Semifinals (36 holes)
Felice Torza def. Jack Isaacs, 1-up (39 holes)
Walter Burkemo def. Claude Harmon, 1-up

Championship Match (36 holes)
Walter Burkemo def. Felice Torza, 2 and 1

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1952 PGA Championship - 1954 PGA Championship

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