Gay Brewer, 1967 Masters champ, dead at 75

September 1, 2007

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Gay Brewer, the 1967 Masters champion who won 11 times on the PGA Tour, died Friday at his home after a fight with lung cancer. He was 75.

Brewer, who also won once on the Champions Tour before retiring in 2000, had been battling cancer since October, fiancee Alma Jo McGuire said.

“It was incurable,” she said. “It was easier on him and the family that it didn’t go any longer than it did.”

Brewer won the 1967 Masters for his lone major title a year after he lost an 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus. In 1966, Brewer three-putted the 72nd hole to fall into the playoff with Nicklaus and Tommy Jacobs.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Gay Brewer,” said Billy Payne, chairman of the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club. “Gay was a wonderful champion and individual and will be dearly missed in April. We express our heartfelt sympathy to his family.”

In June, Picadome Golf Course in Lexington, where Brewer learned to play, changed its name to honor him. Brewer played college golf at the University of Kentucky.

“He was just really personable,” McGuire said. “I don’t know anybody who didn’t like him.”

Brewer is survived by daughters Kelly Allen and Erin Provence and four grandchildren. McGuire said services would be Wednesday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home in Lexington.

“Gay was great,” Tiger Woods said at the Deutsche Bank Championship. “Man, he told more stories and was just incredible to be around.”

Jim Thorpe and other Champions Tour players remembered Brewer’s unique swing.

“He was a great player in his day,” he Thorpe said at the Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach. “Some people just can’t be replaced and he was one of those guys. He was like the Sam Sneads and the (Ben) Hogans of the world. He was one of those guys who had a little bit of an unorthodox swing and that sort of stuff, but it worked for him.”

Bob Charles’ children attended nursery school with Brewers’ children in Dallas.

“I played with him quite a bit,” Charles said. “Of course, he was a major winner, the Masters. So he accomplished quite a bit in his lifetime with not a particularly classical golf swing. … He was a good character and good for the game. … I can’t recall an anecdote, except in as much as he had an unusual, loopy golf swing. I guess that’s what kind of stands out about in my memory about Gay more than anything.”

Gil Morgan remembered Brewer as a storyteller.

“He was always so likable and a very jovial type of guy,” Morgan said. “He would always want to sit down and want to talk with you, especially like in the Legends tournament and later in his lifetime. He always seem to like guy to sit down and tell stories.”