Masters champion and golf legend Jackie Burke Jr. dead at age 100
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Masters champion and golf legend Jackie Burke Jr. dead at age 100

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Jackie Burke Jr., winner of the 1956 Masters Tournament and 1956 PGA Championship, died in the Houston area on Jan. 19. He was 100 years old.

John Joseph Burke Jr. was born January 29, 1923 in Fort Worth, Texas, and he started playing golf at the age of seven. Father Jack Sr. was the head professional at River Oaks Country Club in the Houston area and taught his son the game.

Burke Jr. graduated from high school in Houston in 1940 and then attended Rice University, qualifying for the US Open in 1941 in his home state as an amateur. A year later, he became the professional at Galveston Country Club. However, in that same year, Burke joined the United States Marine Corps for the start of a tour of duty through 1946. He was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and taught combat skills to Marines headed overseas for World War II.

Following World War II, Burke returned to teaching golf. He went north to Hollywood Golf Club in New Jersey to be a teaching professional before becoming an assistant pro at Winged Foot Golf Club, where he was mentored by Claude Harmon.

In 1950, Burke enjoyed his first big win as a pro, teaming up in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am to share first place with three others. He earned his first solo, outright win weeks later at the Rio Grande Valley Open, setting off a four-win season. After going winless in 1951 despite consistent results, Burke won five times in 1952, including four conseuctive wins in February and March -- three of which were by at least six shots.

Four years later, Burke enjoyed his career year, winning the Masters and the PGA Championship.

At the Masters, Burke came from eight strokes behind to play in the final round to surpass Ken Venturi, who was seeking to become the first amateur winner of the tournament. Sitting six shots back at the time, Burke played the last 10 holes in even par as Venturi had seven bogeys to earn the win.

In the 1956 PGA Championship, Burke prevailed in a 128-player match-play tournament, as the format had been changed to eliminate 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying for a 64-player bracket. Burke won seven 18-hole matches to reach the 36-hole semifinal round against Ed Furgol. Burke was 5 down after 14 holes but rallied in the final 22 holes to level the match and force a 37th hole, which Burke won to advance to face Ted Kroll in the final. Burke trailed again early in the 36-hole final, down 3 after 19 holes. However, starting at the 22nd hole of the match, Burke made five birdies in six holes to turn the tide before eventually winning 3 and 2.

All told, Burke won 16 times on the PGA Tour in his career.

In 1957, Burke partnered with Jimmy Demaret to start Champions Golf Club in Houston, a 36-hole facility hosted the Houston Open from 1966 to 1971, the 1967 Ryder Cup, the 1969 U.S. Open, the 1993 U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship five times (1990, 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003) and the 2020 U.S. Women's Open.

Burke was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000 and earned the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He shares his locker at Augusta National Golf Club with Tiger Woods.

Burke was twice married, first to Ielene Lang, who he met playing an exhibition match in Texas. They had five children -- John Joseph Burke III, Michael Burke, Mary Ielene Price, Lisa Burke, Molly West -- together before her passing.

In 1987, he married Robin Moran, runner-up in the 1997 U.S. Women's Amateur, a member of the 1998 Curtis Cup and captain of that same team in 2016. They had a daughter, Meghan, together.

Jackie Burke Jr. is the first known major golf champion to have lived 100 years, and he ran Champions Golf Club until 2021.

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