|Full name||William Payne Stewart|
January 30, 1957|
|Died||October 25, 1999
near Mina, South Dakota
|College||Southern Methodist University|
|Former tour(s)||PGA Tour|
|Number of wins by tour|
|Japan Golf Tour||1|
|Best results in Major Championships
|Masters Tournament||T8: 1986|
|U.S. Open||Won: 1991, 1999|
|The Open Championship||2nd/T2: 1985, 1990|
|PGA Championship||Won: 1989|
|Achievements and awards|
|World Golf Hall of Fame||2001 (member page)|
|Byron Nelson Award||1989|
William Payne Stewart (January 30, 1957 – October 25, 1999) was an American professional golfer who won eleven PGA Tour events, including three major championships in his career, the last of which occurred only months before he died in an airplane accident at the age of 42.
Stewart was born in Springfield, Missouri, and attended Greenwood Laboratory School, a K-12 school, on the campus of Missouri State University. He graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta. He was always popular with fans, especially for his distinctive clothing, and was reputed to have the biggest wardrobe of all professional golfers. He was a favorite of photographers because of his flamboyant attire of ivy caps and patterned pants, which were a cross between plus fours and knickerbockers, a throwback to the once-commonplace golf "uniform". Stewart was also admired for having one of the most gracefully fluid and stylish golf swings of the modern era.
Early professional career: 1981–1988
Stewart failed to earn a PGA Tour card at Qualifying School in his graduation year, so he played on the Asian Tour for a couple of years, winning two tournaments in 1981. He eventually earned his PGA Tour card in 1982 and won his first event on the tour at that year's Quad Cities Open. This win was especially memorable to him because it was the only time his father saw him win. Stewart's father Bill had played in the 1955 U.S. Open and had introduced his son to the game.
In 1983, Stewart gained his second PGA Tour victory by winning the Walt Disney World Golf Classic by two strokes. In 1985, Stewart came close to winning The Open Championship, when he finished one stroke behind the champion Sandy Lyle.
In 1986, Stewart briefly led the U.S. Open during the back-nine of the final round at Shinnecock Hills. After birdieing the 11th and 12th, Stewart took a one-shot lead, but he then had bogeys at the 13th and 14th, finishing the tournament tied for sixth place, behind the winner Raymond Floyd.
Stewart had four runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour in 1986. Despite not winning a tournament that year, he had the most top-10 finishes of any player on the PGA Tour in 1986, finishing inside the top-10 sixteen times.
Stewart won the 1987 Hertz Bay Hill Classic, shooting a third round of 63 and a final round of 65 to beat South African David Frost by three shots. The tournament was a two-man duel in the final round as Frost finished eight shots ahead of the third-place finisher Dan Pohl. Stewart's victory was a memorable one to him as it came on his home course. His house was situated adjacent to the 12th tee of the Bay Hill Club course in Orlando, Florida. Stewart's cumulative tournament score of 264 is, to date, still a record for the lowest aggregate score over 72 holes in the event, which later became known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational held at the same Bay Hill venue.
After his 1987 victory at Bay Hill, Stewart donated his $108,000 prize money to a Florida hospital in memory of his father who died of cancer in 1985.
Major victories: 1989–1999
In April 1989, Stewart won the MCI Heritage Golf Classic in impressive style by five strokes, with a then tournament-record score of 268, 16-under-par. His victory at the Heritage Classic was his eighteenth top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since his previous win at the Bay Hill Classic in March 1987. Stewart was gaining a reputation for being one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour and one of the best players in the world not yet to have won a major championship at that point.
In August 1989 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Stewart eventually won his first major title with a one stroke victory in the PGA Championship. At the start of the final round, Stewart was six shots behind the leader Mike Reid. In remarkable fashion, Stewart made up five strokes in the final three holes to overtake Reid. Stewart's back-nine of 31 included birdies on four of his last five holes. He was able to gain the lead over fellow American Reid, who bogeyed the 16th, double-bogeyed the 17th and missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the 18th which would have forced a playoff with Stewart.
The following year in 1990, Stewart became the first player to win back-to-back titles at the MCI Heritage Golf Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links, winning a playoff against Larry Mize on the second extra hole with an 18-foot birdie putt. This was the first playoff win that Stewart had on the PGA Tour, having lost all five of his playoffs in the 1980s. In May 1990, Stewart won his second tournament of the year at the GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic. At the end of 1990, Stewart was ranked as the 5th best golfer in the world on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Stewart's second major title came at the 1991 U.S. Open after an 18-hole Monday playoff with Scott Simpson on a windblown Hazeltine National Golf Club course. Stewart was two shots behind Simpson going into the final three holes of the playoff. After the 16th hole the match was squared as Stewart holed a 20-foot birdie putt and Simpson missed a 3-foot par putt. Stewart's par on the 18th hole won him the playoff by two strokes.
The following month, Stewart won the 1991 Heineken Dutch Open by nine shots, which included a course record of 62 in the third round. Stewart won the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco in 1992 and 1993.
In 1993 at Royal St George's Golf Club in England, Stewart's fourth round of 63 tied the record for the lowest individual round in The Open Championship. He is one of eight players, to date, who hold the record for shooting a 63 at the British Open. In 1995, Stewart gained his first U.S. PGA Tour win for four years by winning the Shell Houston Open in a playoff over Scott Hoch, who lost a six-shot lead with seven holes to play. Hoch collapsed on the back-nine with three bogeys and a double-bogey on the 17th when his tee shot found water. Stewart won the playoff on the first extra hole.
In the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, Stewart had a four-shot lead going into the final round, but lost to Lee Janzen by a stroke. Stewart missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of his final round, which would have forced a playoff with Janzen.
The following year at the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort, Stewart won his last major title, memorably holing a 15-foot par putt that defeated Phil Mickelson by a stroke on an exciting day's final round when Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh were also in contention for the trophy. Stewart credited his winning putt to being more at peace with himself after his strengthened religious belief. There is now a statue of Stewart celebrating his winning putt behind the 18th green of the No. 2 course at Pinehurst Resort.
At the time of his death, Stewart was ranked third on the all-time money list and in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking—he had been ranked in the top 10 for almost 250 weeks, from 1986 to 1993 and again in 1999. At a time of international domination of the golf scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was often the highest-ranked American player.
Stewart was known for his patriotic passion for the Ryder Cup, once saying of his European opponents, "On paper, they should be caddying for us." The United States team were 3–1–1 during the 5 times he played. He was disappointed to miss out in 1995 and 1997 when he failed to qualify automatically and wasn't chosen as a captain's pick. In the 1999 Ryder Cup, Stewart criticized the heckling of European player Colin Montgomerie. With victory assured for the United States, Stewart conceded a putt (and his own singles match) to Montgomerie on the 18th hole. "This game is about sportsmanship," Stewart said afterwards.
Stewart was a golfing traditionalist who once said: "In the United States all we do is play the ball in the air." He gained an affection for links golf, becoming a popular figure in Ireland after playing on Irish courses to warm up for The Open Championship. After he died in 1999, Waterville Golf Links in County Kerry, Ireland, commissioned a bronze statue of Stewart to pay tribute to him and his affiliation with Waterville.
For a large part of his career, Stewart was known for his National Football League (NFL) sponsorship, whereby he wore the team colors of the geographically closest NFL franchise. The sponsorship ended in May 1995.
Stewart appeared on episode number 169/7.18 of the American television sitcom Home Improvement titled "Futile Attraction", which aired on March 10, 1998 and featured Stewart as himself.
On October 25, 1999, a month after the American team rallied to win the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, and four months after his U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst No. 2, Stewart was killed in the depressurization of a Learjet flying from Orlando to Dallas, Texas for the year-ending tournament, The Tour Championship, held at Champions Golf Club in Houston that year. Travelling on a Monday morning, Stewart was planning to stop off in Dallas to discuss building a new home course for the SMU golf program. The last communication received from the pilots was at 9:27 AM EDT, and the plane made a right turn at 9:30 AM EDT that was probably the result of human input.
At 9:33 AM EDT, the pilots did not respond to a call to change radio frequencies, and there was no further contact from the plane. The plane, apparently still on autopilot and angled off-course, was observed by several U.S. Air Force (and Air National Guard) F-16 fighter aircraft as it continued its flight over the southern and midwestern United States. The military pilots observed frost or condensation on the windshield (consistent with loss of cabin pressure) which obscured the cockpit, and no motion was visible through the small patch of windshield that was clear.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators later concluded that the plane suffered a loss of cabin pressure and that all on board died of hypoxia. A delay of only a few seconds in donning oxygen masks, coupled with cognitive and motor skill impairment, could have been enough to result in the pilots' incapacitation. The NTSB report showed that the plane had several instances of maintenance work related to cabin pressure in the months leading up to the accident. The NTSB was unable to determine whether they stemmed from a common problem – replacements and repairs were documented, but not the pilot discrepancy reports that prompted them or the frequency of such reports. The report gently chides Sunjet Aviation for the possibility that this would have made the problem harder to identify, track, and resolve; as well as the fact that in at least one instance the plane was flown with an unauthorized maintenance deferral for cabin pressure problems.
According to a USAF timeline, a series of military planes provided an emergency escort to the stricken Lear, beginning with an F-16 from Eglin Air Force Base, about an hour and twenty minutes (9:33 EDT to 9:52 CDT – see NTSB report on the crash) after ground controllers lost contact. The plane continued flying until it ran out of fuel and crashed into a field near Mina, South Dakota, a town ten miles (16 km) west of Aberdeen, after an uncontrolled descent. The five other people aboard the plane included Stewart's agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, along with Bruce Borland, a highly regarded golf course architect with the Jack Nicklaus design company.
At the time of his death, Stewart had won $12,673,193 in career earnings. He won over $2 million during the 1999 season, and finished seventh on the year's money list.
At that week's tournament, Tour Championship, Stewart's good friend Stuart Appleby organized a tribute to his friend. With Stewart's wife's permission, he wore one of Payne's own signature outfits for the final round of the tournament on Sunday, and most of the rest of the golfers in the field wore "short pants" that day as well.
One year after Stewart's death, his widow Tracey and their two children, as well as the family of Stewart's agent Robert Fraley who also died on that flight, brought a lawsuit seeking $200 million in damages against the Learjet's operator, SunJet Aviation, Inc., and owner JetShares One Inc., as well as a lawsuit against the aircraft manufacturer Learjet. However, in mid-2000 SunJet Aviation had filed for bankruptcy protection, in part due to an FBI investigation and raid which disrupted the company's ability to fly. Only two years later did the FBI admit that they had found no wrongdoing. The case against Learjet went forward in state court in Orlando, Florida. In June 2005, jurors found that the plane's manufacturer had no liability in the deaths of Stewart and Fraley due to negligence in the design or manufacture of the plane.
The segment of Interstate 44 passing through Springfield, Missouri was designated the "Payne Stewart Memorial Highway" in his memory. He also has a street in Fullerton, California named after him. There is also a "Payne Stewart Drive" in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada named after him, leading into Northview golf course designed by Arnold Palmer. Finally, Payne Stewart Drive in Jacksonville, Florida houses The First Tee along with a Job Corps Center.
The communities of Mina and Aberdeen created their own memorial. Jon Hoffman, owner of the property where the plane crashed, contacted Stewart's widow Tracey and several family members of other crash victims; all agreed that the memorial would be a rock pulled from the crash site, engraved with the victims' names and a Bible passage. Hoffman fenced in about an acre (4,000 m²) of the property surrounding the memorial.
In 2000, the PGA Tour established the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a player who shows respect for the traditions of the game, commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.
In tribute to Stewart, as well as his southwestern Missouri roots, the Payne Stewart Golf Club was opened in Branson, Missouri in June 2009 with the approval of Stewart's widow, Tracey. Ground-breaking on the $31 million layout took place on July 24, 2006. The 7,319 yard 18-hole course was designed by Bobby Clampett and Chuck Smith. Each hole on the course is named for some aspect or notable moment in Stewart's life. For example, the fifth hole, named "Road Hole", recounts the incredible par Stewart made in the first round of the 1990 Open Championship at Old Course at St Andrews when he was forced to knock his third shot against the wall behind the green at the Old Course's treacherous 17th. His ball finished just on the back fringe from where he chipped in.
On the tenth anniversary of Stewart's death in 2009, Golf Channel presented a special program to remember the life of the late golfer. It included recorded interviews with family and friends and archived videos of his golf career.
Professional wins (24)
PGA Tour wins (11)
|Major championships (3)|
|Regular PGA Tour (8)|
|1||Jul 18, 1982||Miller High Life QCO||–12 (68-66-65-69=268)||2 strokes||Brad Bryant, Pat McGowan|
|2||Oct 23, 1983||Walt Disney World Golf Classic||–19 (69-64-69-67=269)||2 strokes||Nick Faldo, Mark McCumber|
|3||Mar 15, 1987||Hertz Bay Hill Classic||–20 (69-67-63-65=264)||3 strokes||David Frost|
|4||Apr 16, 1989||MCI Heritage Golf Classic||–16 (65-67-67-69=268)||5 strokes||Kenny Perry|
|5||Aug 13, 1989||PGA Championship||–12 (74-66-69-67=276)||1 stroke|| Andy Bean, Mike Reid,
|6||Apr 15, 1990||MCI Heritage Golf Classic||–8 (70-69-66-71=276)||Playoff||Steve Jones, Larry Mize|
|7||May 6, 1990||GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic||–8 (67-68-67=202)^||2 strokes||Lanny Wadkins|
|8||Jun 17, 1991||U.S. Open||–6 (67-70-73-72=282)||Playoff||Scott Simpson|
|9||Apr 30, 1995||Shell Houston Open||–12 (73-65-70-68=276)||Playoff||Scott Hoch|
|10||Feb 7, 1999||AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am||–10 (69-64-73=206)^||1 stroke||Frank Lickliter II|
|11||Jun 20, 1999||U.S. Open||–1 (68-69-72-70=279)||1 stroke||Phil Mickelson|
^ Tournament reduced to 54 holes due to inclement weather.
PGA Tour playoff record (3–6)
|1||1984||Colonial National Invitation||Peter Jacobsen||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|2||1985||Byron Nelson Golf Classic||Bob Eastwood||Lost to bogey on first extra hole|
|3||1986||Colonial National Invitation||Dan Pohl||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|4||1988||Provident Classic||Phil Blackmar||Lost to birdie on first extra hole|
|5||1989||Nabisco Championship||Tom Kite||Lost to par on second extra hole|
|6||1990||MCI Heritage Golf Classic||Steve Jones, Larry Mize||Won with birdie on second extra hole|
|7||1991||U.S. Open||Scott Simpson||Won 18-hole playoff (75–77)|
|8||1995||Shell Houston Open||Scott Hoch||Won with birdie on first extra hole|
|9||1999||MCI Classic||Glen Day, Jeff Sluman||Day won with birdie on first extra hole|
European Tour wins (1)
- 1991 Heineken Dutch Open
Japan Golf Tour wins (1)
Other wins (11)
this list is probably incomplete
- 1981 Indian Open, Indonesia Open
- 1982 Magnolia State Classic
- 1982 Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Classic (Australia)
- 1987 Fred Meyer Challenge (with Isao Aoki)
- 1991 Skins Game
- 1992 Skins Game, Hassan II Trophy
- 1993 Skins Game, Hassan II Trophy
- 1996 Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge (with Fred Couples and Davis Love III)
|Year||Championship||54 holes||Winning score||Margin||Runner(s)-up|
|1989||PGA Championship||6 shot deficit||−12 (74-66-69-67=276)||1 stroke||Andy Bean, Mike Reid, Curtis Strange|
|1991||U.S. Open||Tied for lead||−6 (67-70-73-72=282)||Playoff1||Scott Simpson|
|1999||U.S. Open (2)||1 shot lead||−1 (68-69-72-70=279)||1 stroke||Phil Mickelson|
1Defeated Simpson in an 18-hole playoff – Stewart 75 (+3), Simpson 77 (+5).
|The Open Championship||T58||DNP||DNP||CUT||2||T35||T4||T7||T8|
|The Open Championship||T2||T32||T34||12||CUT||T11||T45||59||T44||T30|
DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place.
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.
- Starts – 67
- Wins – 3
- 2nd place finishes – 4
- 3rd place finishes – 0
- Top 3 finishes – 7
- Top 5 finishes – 10
- Top 10 finishes – 18
- Top 25 finishes – 30
- Missed cuts – 13
- Most consecutive cuts made – 11
- Longest streak of top-10s – 3
U.S. national team appearances
- Ryder Cup: 1987, 1989 (tied), 1991 (winners), 1993 (winners), 1999 (winners)
- World Cup: 1987, 1990
- Alfred Dunhill Cup: 1993, 1999
- "World Golf Hall of Fame Member Profile". World Golf Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Mell, Randall (June 21, 1999). "Dad's Bond Strengthens A Champion". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Reilly, Rick (June 23, 1986). "Guts, Grit And Grandeur: At 43, Raymond Floyd fought off a horde of rivals to become the oldest U.S. Open champion ever". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- White Jr., Gordon S. (March 16, 1987). "Stewart Ends 3-Year Drought". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- PGA Tour stats - Top-10 Finishes[dead link]
- "Payne Stewart Wins Bay Hill Classic". Point Pleasant Register (Point Pleasant, West Virginia). UPI. March 16, 1987. p. 6. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- White, Jr., Gordon S. (April 17, 1989). "Stewart Sets Mark in Victory". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Swift, E.M. (August 21, 1989). "Putting On The Style: The beknickered Payne Stewart made up five strokes in the final three holes to win the PGA Championship". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- "Stewart Wins Heritage Again". The Mount Airy News (Mount Airy, North Carolina). AP. April 16, 1990. p. 6. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "The Official World Golf Ranking 1986 - 2000". Golftoday.co.uk. January 26, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Diaz, Jaime (June 18, 1991). "Stewart win U.S. Open title". The Dispatch (Lexington, North Carolina). p. 1B. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Dutch Open". The Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, Florida). AP. July 29, 1991. p. 2C. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "The 141st Open Championship 2012 - Statistics". PGA European Tour. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- "Stewart wins playoff in Houston Open". Ocala Star-Banner (Ocala, Florida). AP. May 1, 1995. p. 3D. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- Markus, Don (October 26, 1999). "First peace, then tragedy". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- "Janzen denies Stewart a U.S. Open title, again". Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, California). AP. June 22, 1998. p. 11. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Payne Stewart's son Aaron Stewart playing at Pinehurst in North and South Amateur". Golf.com. June 29, 2009. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- "69 Players Who Have Reached The Top-10 In World Ranking". Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, ed. Jim Apfelbaum. 2007.
- Rabun, Mike (June 8, 1990). "Payne pained about golf course design". Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, California). p. 19. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Waterville Golf Links". Linksmagazine.com. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Klancnik, Rudy (August 8, 2011). "Payne Stewart Award: Honoring one of golf's true fashion icons". PGA Tour. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- "No Overtime In Payne Stewart-NFL Properties Deal". Sport Business Daily. Street & Smith. October 30, 1995. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Merrill, Elizabeth (June 16, 2009). "In his father's footsteps". Outside the Lines. ESPN. Retrieved June 16, 2009.
- Aircraft Accident Brief of accident number DCA00MA005 from the National Transportation Safety Board
- A special tribute to Stewart on final day
- New Payne Stewart award announced
- Payne Stewart at the PGA Tour official site
- Payne Stewart at the European Tour official site
- Payne Stewart at the Japan Golf Tour official site
- Payne Stewart at Find a Grave
- A biography written when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame
- A short biography on Payne Stewart including unique photographs and documents