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Two-time major champ, HOF member Burke dies at 100

Two-time major champ, HOF member Burke dies at 100

Jack Burke, Jr. – “Jackie” to his many friends – died Friday morning, days away from his 101st birthday.

Burke won the 1956 Masters and PGA Championship, becoming the second player to win both majors in the same year. He captured 16 PGA Tour events and was a member of six U.S. Ryder Cup teams, including serving as a playing captain in 1957 and a non-playing captain in 1973.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.

Burke was born Jan. 29, 1923, in Fort Worth, Texas His father, Jack Sr., was the club professional at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club and was runner-up in the 1920 U.S. Open.

The younger Burke attended Rice University and was head professional at Galveston Country Club, before joining the Marine Corps, serving from 1942-46.

After World War II, Burke returned to golf, working, among other places, as an assistant to the venerable Claude Harmon, the 1948 Masters champion, at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

Burke’s playing career ignited in the 1950s. He won four – what are now considered PGA Tour events – in ’50 and five more in ’52. In 1956, he won the first televised Masters, surging from eight shots back on the final day to overtake amateur Ken Venturi. Burke won the Wannamaker Trophy later that year at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Massachusetts, 3 and 2, in the finals over Ted Kroll.

His final Tour title came in 1963.

Augusta National Archive
Augusta National Archive

For all his accomplishments as a player, Burke was equally regarded within the sport for his humor, honor and service.

“Whenever anybody needed any help, we would always go to Jackie and say, ‘Jackie, I’m struggling with my game,’ and he would help you kindly,” Gary Player said.

Burke famously once quipped, "When a primitive hunter threw a spear at his prey, you better believe he followed through and finished with his weight on his left foot. Reverse pivots in the jungle could be fatal. That saber-toothed tiger would eat you.”

Burke and fellow Masters champion Jimmy Demaret co-founded Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, in 1957. The facility has hosted Tour events, Ryder Cups and major championships. Burke ran the the club with his second wife, Robin, an accomplished amateur and former Curtis Cup captain.

In addition to his Hall of Fame induction, Burke was awarded with the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2004.

Burke, who shared his Augusta National locker with Tiger Woods, turned 100 last year. He was the oldest living major champion.