Billy Burke

Billy Burke (1 US Open, 2 Ryder Cup,s)

1902 - 1972

William John BurkeBurkauskas (polonized Burkowski) (December 14, 1902 – April 19, 1972) was a prominent Lithuanian American professional golfer of the 1920s and 1930s.

Burke was born in Naugatuck, Connecticut. His greatest season was 1931, when he won the U.S. Open, reached the semi-finals of the PGA Championship, and won four events on the professional circuit, plus appeared on the Ryder Cup team where he was undefeated in two matches. He was also selected for the 1933 Ryder Cup team but not before some agitation by Gene Sarazen was done on his behalf.[1] Burke won his only match in the 1933 competition.

Burke's 1931 U.S. Open win came in a marathon playoff. He and George Von Elm were tied at 292 (8-over-par) after regulation play. They played a 36-hole playoff the next day and tied again at 149 (7-over-par). The following day they played 36 more holes and Burke emerged victorious 148 to 149.

Throughout Burke's golf career he used an unorthodox grip due to the loss of two fingers on his left hand.[2] In 2005, Burke was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.[3] Burke died in Clearwater, Florida.