Gay Brewer (1 Masters, 2 Ryder Cup's.)
1932 - 2007
Brewer was born in Middletown, Ohio, and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. As an amateur, Brewer won the Kentucky State Boys Golf Championship in three consecutive years from 1949 to 1951 while attending Lafayette high school. In 1949, he also won the U.S. Junior Amateur, the most prestigious amateur event for golfers under the age of eighteen. In 1952, Brewer won the Southern Amateur.
Brewer attended the University of Kentucky on a football scholarship because the school did not have golf scholarships. Head coach Bear Bryant used him in practice as a holder for the kicker on field goals and extra points. Brewer stayed at the school for two years.
Brewer turned professional in 1956 and made his first cut, at the Agua Caliente Open, tying for 12th. His first top-10 as a pro came at the Philadelphia Daily News Open (tied for eighth), and his first top-five performance was at the Miller High Life Open in Milwaukee (tied for fifth). Playing on the PGA Tour in 1965, he won the Hawaiian Open. At the 1966 Masters Tournament, he bogeyed the final hole to finish in a three-way tie for the lead after regulation play but ended up finishing third to Jack Nicklaus following an 18-hole playoff. He came back to win the prestigious event the next year, scoring a one stroke victory over lifelong friend Bobby Nichols in the first live television broadcast of a golf tournament from the United States to Europe. Brewer called winning the 1967 Masters "the biggest thrill I've had in golf". He went on to become a member of the 1967 Ryder Cup winning team, going 3-2 in his five matches, including a win (4 and 3 over Hugh Boyle) and a loss (2 and 1 to Peter Alliss) in singles play. That same year at the Pensacola Open, he set a PGA Tour record for the best 54-hole total on a par-72 course. His score of 25-under par 191 is a record that still stands over forty years later. Only Steve Stricker's 25-under on the par-71 TPC Deere Run at the 2010 John Deere Classic (25-under 188) has matched it. In the direct opposite vein, at the 1969 Danny Thomas-Diplomat Classic he tied the record at the time for a player having the largest lead (six strokes) with 18 holes to play and then losing. He finished inside the top 10 on the Tour's money list three times (1961, 1966 and 1967), with his best performance his fifth-place finish ($75,688) in 1966. His top earning year came in 1973, when he made $89,911 (21st place).
Brewer's 1966 performances earned him the Golf Digest's Most Improved Golfer award and his 1967 performances earned him the cover of the August 7th issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. He won the 1972 Canadian Open and was again part of the U.S. team that won the 1973 Ryder Cup.
Overall, Brewer was victorious in 10 tour events during his career. He was known for his jovial personality and his unusual golf swing. Brewer joined the Senior PGA Tour and won the 1984 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament with Billy Casper and at age sixty-three he won the 1995 MasterCard Champions Championship. His final competitive round was at the 2001 Masters Tournament.
In 2006, Brewer was voted to the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2007, the golf course in Lexington where he learned to play was renamed the "Gay Brewer Jr. Course at Picadome."