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October 15, 2012

Remembering a man of rules

NORMAN — Gruff and tough. No nonsense. Black and white.

Also, a “softie” with a heart of gold, who was never too busy to listen and always had an answer even if that answer was, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out for you.”

This is the way Doug Brecht’s friends were remembering him Sunday night, two days after the former University Golf Course (now the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club) head pro and, until falling ill in August, the LPGA Tour’s director of rules and competition, died.

Brecht was 62.

He succumbed to a three-month battle with West Nile Virus that had left him extremely incapacitated since Aug. 6, the day he began feeling symptoms while working the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

“I talked to Doug’s wife Stephanie, and she told me that Doug passed very peacefully, and with family close by,” LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Wham said, through a release. “I’m no expert on how to grieve, but this one has hit pretty hard. There are no words that can either erase the pain of losing a member of our family, or to help fully explain or understand his passing.”

On tour for 22 years, Brecht will be mourned by the international golf community. As word of his death has spread, Twitter tributes have poured in from several players.

“Few people truly make the world a better place,” wrote 17-time tour winner Dottie Pepper. “We just lost one in the @lpga’s Doug Brecht.”

Closer to home, Brecth will be remembered as a fantastic guy with an extremely generous spirit, even if it was sometimes wrapped in a tough exterior … especially if you were asking him a question about the rules of the game.

“I would call Doug frequently when I needed a ruling or something for the Fourth of July tournament. And we would always try to be more lenient,” Westwood Park head pro David Lisle said. “He would say, ‘Well, are you playing by the rules of golf, because if you are, that would be a disqualification.’ But we would maybe give a two-stroke penalty.

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