Gay Brewer's wins on tour came in the 1960s and 1970s. He is remembered as a Masters champion, but also for his "loopy" swing and funny sense of humor.
Date of birth: March 19, 1932
Place of birth: Middletown, Ohio
Died: August 31, 2007
• PGA Tour: 11
• Champions Tour: 1
Awards and Honors:
• Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1967, 1973
• Member, Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
• Member, University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame
• Jack Nicklaus on Brewer winning the Masters in 1967 after a near-miss in 1966: "For Gay to come back the next year and win a Green Jacket was fitting for such a tremendous person and a darn good player. Around that time, Gay was as good as there was."
• Gay Brewer: "I still recall the day when I became known not just as Gay Brewer, but 'Gay Brewer, winner of the 1967 Masters.' The reality of the title – the biggest thrill I've had in golf – is something that can never be taken away."
• Jack Nicklaus: "He always had a joke. Gay was just a fun-loving guy and you always looked forward to being around him."
Gay Brewer Biography:
Two things distinguished Gay Brewer Jr.: his unusual swing and his jovial personality.
The 1967 Masters champion nearly didn't make his high school golf team when the coach saw his swing. But, as Brewer told pgatour.com in 2007, "After he saw the loop in my swing, he didn't think I was good enough. He took me over to a par-3 and I proceeded to hit three balls all within six feet of the hole. He told me I was on the team."
That "loopy" swing led to a book published under Brewer's name in 1968 entitled, Gay Brewer Shows You How to Score Better Than You Swing.
Upon his death in August 2007, nearly every golfer who was quoted remembering Brewer mentioned his fun-loving persona and storytelling. "He was always so likable and a very jovial type of guy," Gil Morgan said. Even Tiger Woods, who got to know Brewer through the Champions Dinner at The Masters, told The Associated Press, "Man, he told more stories and was just incredible to be around."
Brewer was born in Ohio but grew up in Lexington, Ky., and was always associated with Kentucky. The loop in his swing was the result of a broken elbow at age 7. At age 10 Brewer started working as a caddie, and then started playing at Picadome Golf Course in Lexington, where he honed his game as a junior in city tournaments, and later amateur matches and collegiate tournaments.
Brewer won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in 1949, and played collegiately at the University of Kentucky. He turned pro and joined the PGA Tour in 1956.
It took five years for Brewer to win, but then he won three times in 1961. His first PGA Tour victory that year was at the Carling Open.
He won twice in 1965 and in 1967, and 11 times overall on the PGA Tour, his last victory coming at the 1972 Canadian Open.
Brewer's first brush with greatness happened at the 1966 Masters, where he needed to two-putt the 72nd hole to win. He three-putted, then lost in a 3-way, 18-hole playoff the next day to eventual champion Jack Nicklaus (Tommy Jacobs was the third member of the playoff).
But Brewer came back the next year and seized his Green Jacket with a final-round 67 that included birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15. He beat Bobby Nichols by a stroke for the 1967 Masters title.
Brewer had 11 other Top 10 finishes in majors, played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams, and finished in the Top 10 on the money list three times.
He played the Champions Tour, winning once in its early years, before retiring from competitive golf in 2000 (although he did start the 2001 Masters, and also made a few more appearances in the senior tour's Legends of Golf team tournament).
In June of 2007, just a couple months before his death as a result of lung cancer, Brewer's beloved Picadome Golf Course in Lexington, Ky., was renamed The Gay Brewer Jr. Course at Picadome.