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Payne Stewart- 20 Years

Payne Stewart- 20 Years

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    Can 20 years have gone by so quickly? Incredibly, they can and they have. October 25, 1999, the day Payne Stewart and his friends perished in an incredible freak aviation accident that is vividly remembered still.  

    On that day I remember flying to Orlando Florida from Chicago to attend some business meetings and get in some golf. Ironic that day Payne's flight took off locally about an hour before I landed at MCO. Having gotten on the ground, fetched a rental car, and headed over to the nearest Edwin Watts golf store to fetch some golf paraphernalia....

    When I strolled into the store it was really odd, as there were maybe 15 people staring up at the TV monitor near the registers. You know the one, always with some golf event or sports game on. Yet here were a group of people, men and women, staring blankly at a screen showing nothing more than the faint image of an airplane. Not a person in that store was doing anything but watching that scene.

    I ambled up and casually asked someone what was going on, and he said in a very hushed tone that the image was Payne Stewart's plane, and something very bad had happened, though no one knew quite what it was. The television announcer, I can't recall the network, went through the various commentaries about the cracked window or fuselage leaks. The relaying of communications with the Air Force jets shadowing the plane. All of that.

    I stood there for well over an hour, and  almost no one left. Everyone stood there transfixed by the images that were shown. There were a couple local cutaways to local newscasters outside the Stewart home, but fortunately no cameras got too close. We just staring at the TV, coming to the realization the outcome was truly bad, but not fully grasping it well.

    At some moment one of the ladies, probably a gentleman or two, began to cry. I think I teared up too, and it was at this moment I realized I simply couldn't watch any more, so I left. Went to my hotel, and did not turn on the TV the entire night. I just couldn't handle any of this.

    Payne Stewart was one of my favorite players. I bought his apparel from Marshall Field's department store (long gone now), picking up sweaters, shirts, and ties. Like many, I found his style and demeanor pretty sweet, I was just a few years into playing, so he was my "guy." Incredibly saddened by the whole thing on so many levels.

    So on this 20th anniversary of his passing I raise a cold beverage, I tip my cap, and I remember a true golf great. Here's to you Payne.

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    Well said, Randy. Tributes and memorials to Payne abound here in Missouri, his home state. He is surely and sorely missed.

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    Payne came into his own with his style and love for the game.  One to remember and too young to be taken away from this wonderful game.

    Played golf with a buddy while in visiting the Durham/Raleigh area recently.  If you happen to be in that area, go by the Mill Creek Golf Course in Mebane, NC they have a very nice display in his memory.  His caddy who lives there, donated a couple of his bags (one from the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island) and a pair of his FJ Icons.  Very touching.  A young gun that will always fill our hearts with joy.  

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    Always one of my favorite players and he is really missed.

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    Thanks Chuck will have to put this club on my bucket list

    • 4787 points
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    Very well stated Randy and he is missed!

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    ChuckZ
    Payne came into his own with his style and love for the game.  One to remember and too young to be taken away from this wonderful game.

    Played golf with a buddy while in visiting the Durham/Raleigh area recently.  If you happen to be in that area, go by the Mill Creek Golf Course in Mebane, NC they have a very nice display in his memory.  His caddy who lives there, donated a couple of his bags (one from the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island) and a pair of his FJ Icons.  Very touching.  A young gun that will always fill our hearts with joy.

    I lived in Chapel Hill in 2000/2001, and Mill Creek was one of the courses I frequented. The memorabilia Mike Hicks donated was very much inspiring.  

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    I had to get his autograph at the Byron Nelson back in the early 90s.  Payne was a super nice guy to all the young kids that looked up to him.Only the good die young.  

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    Thanks, Randy... thanks.