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Gay Brewer, 75; won Masters in '67, after near-victory in '66

September 01, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Professional golfer Gay Brewer, the 1967 Masters champion who won 10 times on the PGA Tour, died Friday at his home in Lexington, Ky., after a fight with lung cancer. He was 75.

Brewer, who retired from the senior Champions Tour in 2000, had been battling cancer since October, his fiancee, Alma Jo McGuire, told the Associated Press.

"He was one of the pioneers, a great guy. We're going to miss Gay," golfer Jim Thorpe said Friday at the Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach. "He was a great player in his day. . . . 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."

Brewer won the 1967 Masters for his lone major golf title a year after he lost an 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus. In 1966, Brewer needed only a par score on the 18th hole of the final round to win the tournament, but he three-putted to fall into a three-way playoff with Nicklaus and Tommy Jacobs. The next day Nicklaus, who had won the 1965 Masters, won the playoff and became the first back-to-back champion at Augusta.

Brewer returned to win the Masters the next year by one shot over Bobby Nichols.

Born in Middletown, Ohio, on March 19, 1932, Gay Robert Brewer grew up in Lexington. He won the 1949 U.S. Junior Championship, then played college golf at the University of Kentucky.

He turned pro in 1956 and notched his first pro victory in 1961. He was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup teams for international competition in 1967 and 1971. His last PGA Tour victory was at the 1972 Canadian Open.

In June, Picadome Golf Course in Lexington, where Brewer learned to play, changed its name to honor him.

Among Brewer's survivors are two daughters, Kelly Allen and Erin Provence; and four grandchildren. His wife, Carole, died of cancer in 1998.

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