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Former LPGA Commissioner dies aged 75

John D. Laupheimer, the second commissioner of the LPGA Tour who helped attract corporate sponsorship to women's golf during his six-year tenure, died Monday in London, former commissioner Ty Votaw said. He was 75.

Votaw said Laupheimer had been suffering from cancer and slipped into a coma a few weeks ago.

"He took great pride in being commissioner of the LPGA Tour, and great pride in whoever held the position, as being somewhat of a club in which only you knew what was involved," Votaw said.

Laupheimer was a former president of the Pennsylvania Golf Association and executive director of administration at the U.S. Golf Association before taking over the LPGA Tour in 1982, replacing Ray Volpe. During his six years as commissioner, prize money nearly doubled from $6.4 million to $12.5 million.

He was honored last year by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association with its Distinguished Service Award.

"He was a really decent man, a gentleman, not demonstrative, not in any way ego-driven," former LPGA Tour commissioner Charlie Mechem said. "I'd like to think each one of us advanced the cause a bit, depending on what we had to go with. And John certainly moved the LPGA forward. He will be remembered fondly."

Laupheimer left the LPGA Tour to join IMG as an international vice president, and remained active with the USGA. Votaw said he last saw him in August at the Women's British Open at Royak Birkdale.

"He looked as if he was in the middle of a tough battle," Votaw said.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.

December 20, 2005

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