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Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Bayer, also ex-Redksins lineman, dies of heart attack
SEATTLE -- George Bayer, a former University of Washington and Washington Redskins lineman who won three PGA Tour events and was known for 300-yard drives, is dead at age 77.
Bayer, a native of Bremerton, died Sunday of a heart attack while he and his wife Marianne were dining with former Masters champion Bob Goalby and Goalby's wife in the Bayers' home in Palm Desert, Calif.
Bayer, who started in golf as a caddie at the Kitsap Golf and Country Club between Silverdale and Bremerton but didn't begin playing professionally until he was 29, won the 1957 Canadian Open, 1958 Mayfair Inn Open and 1960 St. Petersburg Open.
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds in his prime, he hit drives exceeding 300 yards at a time of wooden clubs and low-technology golf balls. He once set a record, later surpassed, with a tournament drive of 436 yards.
Born in Bremerton, Bayer enlisted in the Navy out of high school, enrolled at the University of Washington after World War II and played football for the Huskies in 1946-49.
As a senior he played in the 1949 East-West Shrine Game and was drafted in the 20th ground by the Washington Redskins but quit after six games because a dispute with the team owner, George Preston Marshall.
''He would come out of the stands and make substitutions,'' Bayer told The Sun of Bremerton in an interview in 2000. ''I thought the coach or someone sitting on the bench was supposed to do that.''
A series of amateur golf tournament appearances led to an invitation to play with entertainers Bob Hope and Danny Kaye, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and actor Gary Cooper in a celebrity event in Palm Springs, Calif.
That got him invited to the National Celebrities tournament in Washington, D.C., in 1953, and within two years he was a regular on the PGA Tour.
Bayer earned $428,862 on the PGA and Senior PGA tours before retiring from regular competition in 1997.
In his final tournament, Bayer and partner Howie Johnson finished seventh in the 70-and-older division at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf last year.
Other survivors include five children. Funeral services were scheduled Friday at FitzHenry Funeral Home in Palm Desert.