Players Cherish Paynes Legacy

By George WhiteJune 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: At 5:00 p.m. Tuesday (June 14), a public ceremony will be held at Pinehurst No.2's 18th green in memory of Payne Stewart.
 
Jim Mackay, who caddies for Phil Mickelson, remembers the moment as if it happened just five minutes ago. It was the final hole on the final day of the 1999 U.S. Open. A gray mist enveloped the 18th green at Pinehurst as Payne Stewart was preparing to putt.
 
Payne Stewart
Payne Stewart was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
Surely you recall Mickelson had just missed a 25-footer and had settled for par and a likely 18-hole playoff. Stewart, who had a one-stroke lead, had taken three shots to reach the green after an indifferent drive and a layup. Now he had a 20-foot putt remaining that he had to make to win. Miss it, and the two would come back for a Monday finish.
 
The USGA paints a dot on the green to denote the pin location for the next days play. That was foremost in Mike Hicks mind. Stewarts caddie was concerned because he didnt see the dot, and he was pretty certain there would be a playoff.
 
Payne puts his ball down on 18, remembers Mackay, and Hicksy comes over and says, Bonesy, you got any dots for tomorrows playoff?
 
I was thinking what he said right as Payne hit his putt. About that time, Hicksy was doing the Yogi Berra thing. And we still joke about that.
 
Stewart, of course, won it when he poured the putt into the heart, setting off a leaping, hugging celebration between him and Hicks. But before the end of the year, Stewart himself was only a memory, dying in an airplane tragedy while flying over the heartland of America.
 
This year, the U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst for the first time since Stewarts victory. It will be a second celebration of his win as players remember the 99 victory.
 
A guy with the mentality that Payne had, he never gave up, never gave in and he was a bulldog type of guy, David Toms said. You just had a feeling he was going to make it (the putt), like everyone else did. He looked comfortable.
 
You can tell if a guy is taking more time than normal, is he doing a different routine, what kind of look does he have on his face, is he unsure of the break or whatever it might be. He certainly looked comfortable and he poured it right in.
 
Nick Price will never forget. The two things I will remember for as long as I live are the putt on 18, and then Payne using his two hands to hold Mickelsons face as he spoke to him, said Price. Stewart had immediately gone to Mickelson as soon as the embrace with Hicks ended. He then spoke to Mickelson about the birth of Mickelsons first child, which would come the next day.
 
It was a great, great moment for Payne, but all he wanted to say was, Dont worry, youre going to win this thing someday, said Price. He knew, even in his greatest moment ' he still had the empathy to say something like that.
 
Payne just had incredible feelings for his fellow pros like that.
 
Mickelson was extremely touched. I think I was most impressed with Payne when here he just won the greatest championship of the game and he's thinking about Amy and myself, said Phil.
 
It will be a trying week for just about everyone concerned when the players gather again at Pinehurst, said Mickelson. The memories of a man who was so unique are hard to erase.
 
It'll be very emotional for a lot of players because almost everybody out here considered Payne a good friend, he said. So it's going to be an emotional week for everybody.
 
Tiger Woods remembers that final day, recalls the fantastic stretch run of himself, Mickelson and Vijay Singh as one by one they grappled with Stewart. But even more, he remembers the celebratory party that Stewart threw when they all returned home to Orlando. I think thats what we should all focus on, said Woods.
 
There are a lot of little things that Woods remembers, but the little impish pranks stands out most in Tigers mind. The practical jokes and his needling, Tiger said. Whether it might be shaving cream in our shoes - he didn't do that to me, but he did it to some other guys. I was away from his locker (the lockers are placed alphabetically.) Being Woods, I wasn't right next to him, so I was lucky in that regard.
 
Ernie Els missed the cut at Pinehurst and doesnt have many fond memories of North Carolina in 99. But he has a million memories of Payne Stewart.
 
He was a true character, he said. You knew where he was coming from, and he had a little bit of air of cockiness to him. But it was a nice - it was kind of nice.
 
You know, he was a great guy. He always had something to say about something. I liked him.
 
Davis Loves fondest memories of Stewart dont involve Pinehurst, either. He remembers Payne most intimately for a match the two played in the Ryder Cup that fall. Love says he has never been quite the same player.
 
I think the night before it even started, and the next morning him trying to motivate me to play well, said Love. You know, he didn't want to lose, and he wasn't going to let me make him lose a match.
 
I had always sat back and waited for something to happen, kind of let the other player be the leader and just try to help out a little bit. And he was more like, We're going to get together on this and we're going to play hard. I'm not going to let you just let it happen. We're going to go out and beat these guys, and I want 100 percent from you from the first tee.
 
It got me to when I played with Kenny Perry or Fred Funk or whoever in the future, where I felt like maybe they would be waiting for me to say something or do something. I came out and said something because I learned from Payne how to have a conversation with your partner, how to motivate each other and hang in there.
 
You always knew it when you saw Payne Stewart, of course. He had planned it that way when he as a young pro to wear the distinctive attire. That, said Toms with a chuckle, was distinctively Payne.
 
Certainly he's going to be remembered for what he did at Pinehurst and the U.S. Open, agreed Toms, but there were a lot of things that he did for the game of golf that are probably overlooked.
 
I think he was the one guy that did something different with his attire and everything and presented himself in that way. More and more guys are doing that, trying to make a statement by what they're wearing and so forth. I think he was one of the guys that kind of started that.
 
Justin Leonard can only laugh when he is asked to reflect back on Payne. His favorite memory involves an outing he and Stewart did just after Stewart had lost the 1998 Open to Lee Janzen.
 
We flew to Quincy, Illinois, for D.A. Weibring's outing, and getting off the plane after having a couple beers, Payne wanted to keep going, said Leonard. And I'll just say that we did. We kept going. That was a long, long Monday outing that next day.
 
There's a lot of little stories in there, too, but Payne fired up a grill and started cooking cheeseburgers at about 4 a.m.
 
And that remains the one lasting memory that Leonard cherishes most ' Payne Stewart flipping burgers at 4 in the morning.
 
The burgers - were they tasty?
 
Leonard hesitated for a moment. Not really, he confessed.
 
Its going to be a difficult week for all the golfers. But its also going to be a pleasant time of reminisces, of much laughter mixed in with many sobering moments.
 
I think it'll be tough for some people, but I think also it's a good way to - I'll never say memories fade, but it's a good way to bring up some good old memories and a good way to remember a real class individual in our sport, said Jim Furyk.
 
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


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    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.