History

1953: Local favorite turns Champion

Champion: Walter Burkemo, Birmingham, Mich.
Site: Birmingham Country Club, Birmingham, Mich.
Date: July 1-7
Purse: $20,700
Par: 36-35 - 71
Field: 136

The first day of play in the 35th PGA Championship was nicknamed "Black Friday," with star players falling like limbs in a hurricane. Among the fallen stars were Sam Snead, a 1-up loser in 19 holes to Dave Douglas in the afternoon round. With the favorites out of contention, Detroit-born Walter Burkemo drew the adulation of the galleries throughout the week. Burkemo outlasted Claude Harmon in a dramatic semifinal 1-up. With the match even heading into the par-5 36th hole, Harmon tried to get home in two, but dumped his second shot into a creek in front of the green. He almost holed out his fourth shot, while Burkemo pitched his third 15 feet away. Burkemo had to sink his putt or face a playoff. He sank the putt and a large swarm of fans covered the green to congratulate their hero. In the finals, 10,000 fans turned out to watch Burkemo, who didn't disappoint by defeating Felice Torza for the Championship 2 and 1.

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