Gracious. Passionate. Personable. An adoring public, smitten with his bravado, talent and signature knickers helped Payne Stewart become an American legend. Stewart’s indomitable spirit was perhaps best on display at the Ryder Cup. Competing for his country fired Payne’s patriotic passions. He joked before the tournament that if his teammates didn’t have enough spirit, he would wake them up by playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” at full blast. And he did just that.
Stewart was also known for his deep character. When asked by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet terminally-ill Joel Broering, Stewart literally lifted him out of the car and into a golf cart. He took Joel along for a warm-up practice and into the clubhouse to meet the other players: Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples and Paul Azinger. Stewart also provided Joel with two sets of knickers, knee socks and tam-o’-shanter caps. Later that day, when Stewart won the tournament, he presented Joel with the trophy.
Because of his commitment to character and his behavior both on and off the course, Payne’s name has become synonymous with sportsmanship. For example, on the final day of 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, Payne was paired with Colin Montgomery. Throughout the day, Montgomery has been subjected to abusive heckling from some of the American spectators. Stewart took action in asking security to remove the troublesome spectators, and then, as the two competitors walked on to the green of the 18th hole tied, he conceded the point to Montgomery as a sign of respect to his competitor. Because of this commitment to sportsmanship, the PGA Tour in conjunction with the Southern Company created the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a Tour golfer that has exhibited charity, character and sportsmanship over his career.
Today, many companies and organizations are committed to preserving the Payne Stewart legacy including the PGA Tour, the Southern Company, the American Junior Golf Association, Bass Pro Shops, Big Cedar Lodge, Posse Films, The Golf Channel, Heritage Charity Auction & Awards, Golf’s Links to the Past, Upper Deck Trading Cards, Kids Across America, The First Academy and Pinehurst.
One of the most admired professional golfers of all time, Payne Stewart died tragically on October 25, 1999. At the time of his death, Stewart was ranked eighth in the world and third on the year’s money list. Stewart’s 18 victories around the world included three major championships: the 1989 PGA Championship, the 1991 U.S. Open and the 1999 U.S. Open. He was a member of the elite United States Ryder Cup team in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1999.
In 2001 Payne Stewart was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Stewart’s three major championships include the 1989 PGA Championship, the 1991 U.S. Open Championship and the 1999 U.S. Open Championship.
Stewarts PGA Tour victories included 1982 Miller High Life QCO, 1983 Walt Disney World Golf Classic, 1987 Hertz Bay Hill Classic, 1989 MCI Heritage Golf Classic, PGA Championship, 1990 MCI Heritage Golf Classic, GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic, 1991 U.S. Open Championship, 1995 Shell Houston Open, 1999 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, U.S. Open Championship.
Stewart played in the Ryder Cup in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1999.
Payne Stewart is survived by his wife, Tracey and two children, Chelsea and Aaron.
In 2000, Tracey Stewart authored a biography entitled, Payne Stewart.
Payne Stewart Enterprises was established by Payne Stewart to promote his trademark name and logo. Today, Tracey Stewart serves as President.
Payne Stewart Family Foundation was formed by Payne and Tracey Stewart to teach their children about giving back to the community. The focus of the foundation is to support needy children and the development of the game of golf.