Three Major Winners Played In 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club

Three Major Winners Played In 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club
Lansing State Journal, June 27, 1955

Three Major Winners Played In 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club

Three Major Championship winners were among the 177 pros and amateurs who teed it up for the 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club.

Leading the list was Horton Smith, winner of the 1934 and 1936 Masters. Smith was by this time the head professional at Detroit Golf Club. In his PGA Tour career, Smith won 30 times, placing him 16th on the all-time list.

Also in the field was Chick Harbert, winner of the 1954 PGA Championship. Harbert had 18 professional wins in his career. Harbert was the head pro at Meadowbrook in Northville, Michigan.

Joining them was Wally Burkemo, winner of the 1953 PGA Championship. Burkemo, who in his lifetime served as club pro at Franklin Hills, Edgewood and Oakland Hills, had two PGA Tour wins. At age 52, Burkemo would win the 1970 Michigan Open, his fourth and final Michigan Open win.

Future Michigan Golf Hall of Famers Chuck Kocsis, Al Waltrous and John Barnum also were in the field.

Kocsis’ storied amateur career included six Michigan Amateurs, three Michigan Opens (1931, 1945, 1946), individual intercollegiate champion, three U.S. Walker Cup teams, two NCAA Championship teams at the University of Michigan, low amateur in the Masters, low amateur in two U.S. Opens, runner-up at the 1956 U.S. Amateur, and runner-up at the 1937 Western Amateur.

Al Waltrous had 34 professional wins in his career, much of which was spent as head professional at Oakland Hills. Waltrous finished second to Bobby Jones in the 1926 Open Championship. He is also a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Barnum won four Michigan Opens in his career, the last coming in 1961. He is noted for having been the only player to win his first PGA TOUR event after age 50 (and is one of seven to win at all after age 50). Barnum was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 1984.

For the 1955 Michigan Open, Washtenaw Golf Club played at 6, 638 yards. Today, the course tips out a little shorter, at 6, 564 yards. It would be interesting to know what happened to the remaining 74 yards.

In 1955, the Michigan Open’s purse for the 86 pros was $5,000, with the winner receiving $750. The 91 amateurs were competing for 15 merchandise prizes.

After four rounds, Wally Burkemo finished seven strokes ahead of second place Max Evans. His score of 279 was nine under for the tournament.

The 1955 Michigan Open was Burkemo’s second at the time. He had previously won in 1951.

The top 20 for the 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club were;

Wally Burkemo71-71-70-67 = 279
Max Evans73-74-69-70 = 286
Jim Barfield71-72-74-71 = 288
Bob Inman71-72-72-75 = 289
Mike Dietz67-71-77-74 = 289
Tom Talkington75-70-72-73 -= 290
Chuck Kocsis (A)71-73-75-71 = 290
John Barnum71-68-76-75 = 290
Pete Cooper68-73-74-76 = 291
Ben Lula76-70-75-70 = 291
Horton Smith71-72-74-74 = 291
Joe Grace (A)72-75-71-74 = 292
Kirk Smith71-71-76-75 = 293
Chick Harbert72-74-73-75 = 294
Em Kocsis72-73-74-76 = 295
Jimmy Johnson76-74-72-74 = 296
Chick Rutan70-71-75-80 = 296
Larry Tomasino69-73-74-80 = 296
Dick Whiting (A)77-71-71-78 = 297
Gib Sellers74-74-71-78 = 297
A = Amateur

The article “Three Major Winners Played In 1955 Michigan Open at Washtenaw Golf Club” first appeared August 22, 2020 on GolfBlogger.Com

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