Sad news was announced on Saturday after Doug Brecht, 62, a longtime rules official and vice president of competitions for the LPGA, passed away near his home in Oklahoma Friday night after battling West Nile Virus for two months.
Brecht contracted the virus in Toledo, Ohio, while working the Jamie Farr Classic. He was hospitalized there and later transported to another facility in Oklahoma City.
In a statement, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said: “I talked to Doug’s wife Stephanie, and she told me that Doug passed very peacefully, and with his family close by. I’m no expert on how to grieve, but this one has hit pretty hard. There are no words that can either ease the pain of losing a member of our family, or help to fully explain or understand his passing. What I do know for certain is that Doug loved being a part of the LPGA family, and he told me – on numerous occasions – that he felt blessed to have a job that he loved so much. Personally, there was a distinctive peacefulness that always seemed to accompany Doug. No doubt, he is in a place of peace now and he will always be remembered for his kind heart and many gifts.”
Current and former LPGA players used social media to share the news and express their grief.
Jessica Korda wrote, “Really saddened about the passing of Dougie. He was my 1st ever ruling on tour. He was so special to me always someone you can come to with anything and he would always be there for you. Heaven got a special person today.”
Former tour player Leslie Spalding, now the head women’s golf coach at San Diego State, wrote, “The LPGA Family has lost a great man in Head Rules Official Doug Brecht. It's a sad day to lose a man to West Nile meningitis. Doug and Steph have given so much to golf. Doug was always a support person for each player on Tour. He helped me put my golf into perspective when I needed that person to help me. We are all grieving today, and supporting our friend Steph.”
Michelle McGann posted on her Facebook page: “Another wonderful man has been taken from this earth. RIP Doug Brecht. You were a fabulous rules official, a friend & our LPGA family will miss you greatly. Steph, thanks for sharing your wonderful husband with so many of us. We love you & you will continue to be in our thoughts & prayers.”
With the tour in Asia, more sentiment will likely come out as news spreads.
Until then, Kraig Kann, the LPGA director of communications, summed up the feelings of all when he said, “Doug Brecht was kind to all, a friend to the game, and fair in his work. He made everyone around him better.... and happier. RIP friend.”