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Former BYU golf coach Karl Tucker dies

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OREM, Utah

— College Hall of Fame golf coach Karl Tucker, who built BYU's program

into a national power, died Friday afternoon at his home with his

children and wife, Joann, bedside.

Tucker, 82, had battled complications stemming from congestive

heart failure this past year. Funeral arrangements are pending and will

be announced by the family.

"He is a legend and he left a past and legacy we'll all honor," said

Gary Golightly, a close friend and former executive director of the

Provo Open.

Tucker, who once said he was the luckiest man alive, coached BYU's

golf team to an NCAA championship in 1981 and loved to ski, golf and

ride his horses. A dedicated ski instructor, he served two decades as

chairman of the Provo Open and created a charity to benefit the Boys

and Girls Club of Utah County.

Tucker, late USC golf coach Stan Wood, Dave Williams of the

University of Houston and Jess Haddock of Wake Forest are recognized as

the founding fathers of modern collegiate golf, according to USCTrojans.com.

BYU hired Tucker to pilot its golf program in 1961. And from 1966,

when Johnny Miller and Mike Taylor earned All-American honors, until

his retirement in 1993, Tucker's players earned more than 60

All-America citations.

From 1969 through 1991, two years before Tucker retired as BYU's

golf coach, his teams won 19 conference championships and had 17 Top 10

finishes in the NCAA Golf Championships.

Golfers who came through his program include a myriad of

All-Americans including Mike Reid, Keith Clearwater, golf designer John

Fought, former Masters champion Mike Weir, Dick Zokol, Keith

Clearwater, Pat McGowan and TV golf analyst Bobby Clampett, who was the

college player of the year in 1980.

"We are all saddened by the news," Fought said. "He was a great

leader and friend to all of us — his former players. He was a lot more

than just a coach. He was an inspiration and the firmest of

foundations. He led with class and guided us through the years.

"His legacy is all the memories we have of the great times we spent

together playing golf, but mostly I will remember and cherish his

advice to a rather immature boy from Portland, Oregon. He gave us all

so much and we will miss him."

"I would just say that coach's legacy was obviously first, his

undying love for Joann," Clearwater said. "But second was a very unique

and unmatched loyalty to his players that spanned some 40 years. Every

coach at BYU tries to emulate his program and relationship with

players. That legacy will never end."

Most of Tucker's former players, including Clampett — who had never

returned to Provo — attended Cougar Day this past fall at Riverside

Country Club in Provo, knowing the event might be the final opportunity

to visit with their former coach.

After an emotional dinner the night before the event, associate BYU

athletic director Brian Santiago said the event was "all-time," seeing

all that golf talent saluting their coach and trading stories.

"The only thing bigger than Karl's smile was his heart," said

Fairways Magazine publisher Randy Dodson. "I learned many things from

him, none of which had to do with golf, although he tried to fix my

swing many times. I have a great admiration for his ability to treat

all people, regardless of their position in life, the same. I will miss

his friendship."

E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com