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Gay Brewer, 1966: 'Lucky' green paves way to championship

February 17, 2012 - 5:33 pm
Gay Brewer lost a playoff in the 1966 Masters Tournament. He came back to win the next year.   File/Staff
File/Staff
Gay Brewer lost a playoff in the 1966 Masters Tournament. He came back to win the next year.
By Gay Brewer |

 

One of the first things I remember about my Masters Tournament victory is wearing green on Sunday. That's supposed to be a no-no, a real unlucky thing to do.

Well, with my mind-set that day in 1967, I don't guess it mattered. When I walked into the locker room all of the contenders were sitting in there real quiet, not saying a thing. It was like a funeral. I asked, What's the gloom, boys? We're playing for the Masters today.

Then I thought about it and went out on the back lawn and just sat by myself, meditating, getting my mind focused on the game. I sat there for nearly an hour, and nobody bothered me. My wife said she'd never seen me do that before and rarely has since then.

I was in a state of close concentration all day. I gave myself a pep talk when I got the lead late and told myself not to do anything stupid.

My game was sharp, thanks in part to a driver that Ben Hogan gave me in 1966. I appreciated that coming from a man who was so great. The year I won was also the last year Hogan played there ­ and shot 66 in the third round ­ so it was doubly memorable.

In the final round, I was tied with Bobby Nichols at 5-under par going to the 13th hole. I hit a 4-wood to 20 feet there and two-putted for birdie to gain a one-stroke lead, while Bobby made par. We both birdied Nos. 14 and Nos. 15.

My key hole may have been No. 17. I caught Ike's Tree off the tee and had about 220 yards to the green. From there, I hit a 4-wood into the gap between the bunkers, chipped to 3 feet and made par. I made a routine par on No. 18 to beat Bobby by one stroke. That made me forget 1966, when all I needed was a par on 18 to win, but three-putted and then lost in a three-way playoff to Jack Nicklaus, who won, and Tommy Jacobs.

It's a goal of all pros to win one of the major championships. It's something I'll cherish the rest of my life. You get recognition all over the world. Plus, you get a lifetime exemption into the Masters.

I just turned 68 on March 19 and said I'd 'retire' the first of April. I've been playing 20 to 25 tournaments a year on the Senior Tour, but my wife passed away last year and I only played about 10 tournaments. This year, I'll probably play about 12 to 15 events. The rest of the time I'll spend at my Delray Beach, Fla., home, playing a little golf, bass fishing and just relaxing.

But, as long as I can still walk the course, I'll come back and play in the Masters. I've got bad knees ­ arthritis in both of them ­ and it kills me to walk the course, but it's an experience to walk Augusta National with some familiar faces looking out at you every year.

I always bring my family with me ­ the daughters, sons-in-law, grandkids, the whole group. We rent a house and have a great time. Nothing could beat it.

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