Payne Stewart: The Pro Who Golfed With Knickerbockers And Died At 42!

Payne Stewart

An American golfer on the PGA Tour, Payne Stewart came into this world as a future global champion! He was born on January 30, 1957, and died on October 25, 1999. In the Ryder Cup, he represented the USA against Europe five times between 1987 and 1999 and was able to celebrate three victories with his team. At the height of his career, he was killed in a plane crash in 1999 and the Missouri legend’s career came to a crashing end. Here are 10 facts about the golfing legend plucked too quickly from the world and his family: 

Payne Stewart: 10 Fluid Facts About The Golfing Legend! 

1. Payne Stewart Quick Facts:

Payne Stewart was an American professional golfer who won eleven PGA Tour tournaments, including three major tournaments in his career, the last of which occurred a few months before dying in a plane crash at the age of 42.

After graduating from Southern Methodist University, Stewart joined the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA).

He won eleven tournaments throughout his career, including the PGA Championship in 1989 and the United States Internationals in 1991 and 1999. He represented the United States on five Ryder Cup and World Cup teams. He won the Trophy of King Hassan II of Morocco.

Stewart was a popular golfer with onlookers, who responded enthusiastically to his distinctive attire. He was reputed to have the largest wardrobe of all professional golfers and was a favorite with photographers due to his flamboyant outfit of ivy caps and patterned pants, which were a cross between plus four legs and knickers, a throwback to the golf uniform that was once common. Payne Stewart was also admired for having one of the most graceful and fluid golf shots of the modern era.

2. Childhood: 

Payne Stewart came into this world as William Payne Stewart. The American golfer was born in Springfield, Missouri.  Stewart grew up in a golf-loving family in Springfield, Missouri, (much like the new gen Collin Morikawa) and was trained by his father when he was four.

3. Career:

After a golf scholarship at Southern Methodist University and winning several college tournaments (including the Southwest Conference Championship), he decided to start a professional career in 1979. 

He could not qualify for the tour in the USA at first, so he played in Asia and Europe. 

Long dubbed the eternal runner-up, Stewart achieved his sporting breakthrough in 1989 when he won the PGA Championship in Kemper Lakes near Chicago. 

During his career, Stewart won eleven PGA Tour tournaments. His greatest successes include winning the PGA Championship in 1989, winning the US Open in 1991 and 1999. He was also a two-time winner of the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco. He represented the United States in five Ryder Cup and three World Cup teams. 

His trademark was the knickerbockers, which he mostly wore, often in the club colors of a sports club located at the venue of the tournament.

4. Death:

On October 25, 1999, Payne Stewart was killed in a plane crash with a Learjet 35 in South Dakota at the age of 42. 

As later investigations suggested, a deactivated (or possibly defective) flow valve on board had suddenly occurred on board and pressure loss began. The exact cause for this could not be determined. US Air Force fighter jets accompanied the Learjet. The plane emptied its tank without a driver and finally crashed. 

Sadly, Stewart and his companions were long dead by this point. In the Canadian television series Mayday, the accident was recreated as Deadly Silence in the first episode of the 16th season.

5. His Last Trip To Dallas Changed His Life: 

Stewart had been playing the Disney Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near his residence, and was preparing to travel to Houston to end the season, participating in the TOUR Championship . But before that, accompanied by Bruce Borland, a golf course designer who worked for Jack Nicklaus, and two other people from his team, he planned to make a stop in Dallas, where he planned to build a new course.

The aircraft chosen for the double transfer was a Learjet 35A from the executive flight company Sunjet Aviation Inc., with registration N47BA, piloted by Michael Kling, 42, together with his first officer, Stephanie Bellegarrigue, 27 years old. His flight took off from Orlando at 9 a.m. local time with 2.4 tons of fuel, enough for a transfer that would take about four and a half hours. Everything was going normally, but after 26 minutes, the Jacksonville controllers from the tower lost contact with the flight crew. 

Alerted by the lack of response from the cabin of the plane, in Jacksonville they sounded the alarm. An Air Force F-16 that was conducting practice at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, flew until it caught up with the plane carrying Payne Stewart. It located it at an altitude of 14,100 meters, 3,100 meters more than the Learjet 35A was authorized to fly by the controllers.

What the rescue pilot of the F-16 could see, after making several passes next to the plane in which the golfer was traveling, caused maximum concern: opaque windows that did not allow to observe what was happening inside the plane, a clear symptom of a possible depressurization of the cabin that can even cause the appearance of frost due to low temperatures.

6. His Plane Crash Was As Unplanned As Passengers Dying Before Landing:

When a plane is slowly depressurized, if the pilots are not aware of the situation, they end up falling into a state of unconsciousness due to lack of oxygen known as hypoxia. It is very possible that this was the cause of the death of the six occupants of the flight, turning the Learjet 35A into a winged coffin that traveled uncontrollably through American airspace.

Stewart’s flight, which was supposed to have turned toward Dallas, nevertheless maintained an unchanged trajectory, at a constant speed, toward the northwest of the country. Possibly guided by the autopilot. For hours, the passengers crossed the states of Georgia and passed between those of Alabama and Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri, where 42 years before the golfer had been born.

It flew over Springfield, where Payne’s mother already knew from the media what was happening on her son’s plane. And the flight still had fuel to fly through Iowa and Minnesota, eventually landing in the northeast corner of South Dakota  Specifically, it crashed in Mina, 19 kilometers west of Aberdeen, in an agricultural area. There were no survivors, since the four passengers and the two crew members had died several hours before.

7. His Plane Was Ordered To Be Shot If: 

Two F-16s from the Air National Guard, which departed from Oklahoma, and two other F-16s from a North Dakota air base had taken turns to ‘accompany’ the Learjet 35A on its wandering, in permanent contact with the president from the United States, Bill Clinton, in the case at some point it was necessary to shoot down the plane if it was detected that it could fall on an inhabited area.

8. The Fatal Crash:

The violence of the impact with the ground practically completely destroyed the device, further complicating the work of the researchers. In addition, they were met with an unexpected surprise: the cockpit voice recording system, being a somewhat outdated model airplane, only recorded the last 30 minutes, which hardly helped them to know when the power was turned off. engines due to lack of fuel.

The analysis of what happened was based, therefore, on the statements of the military pilots who flew in their F-16s next to the plane, on the remains of the oxygen masks in the cabin, which indicated that they had not been used, and in the aircraft’s repair history, on which recurrent work had been carried out on the cabin pressurization system.

There were several theories regarding the causes of the accident that cost the golfer and her companions her life: some technical failure in the sealing of the doors or windows that ended up causing depressurization, a sudden change in the weather during the flight that ‘launched it ‘well above the altitude at which he was authorized to fly, an error in the closure of the oxygen flow control valve due to negligence, etc. 

It was not possible to determine exactly what happened in a tragedy that shocked the world of golf in which the winner of the last US Open played at that time left his life. 

9. Family:

Stewart had been married to the Australian flight attendant Tracey Ferguson since 1984, whom he met in Asia during his time on the Asian Tour. The relationship resulted in a daughter (who was born in 985) and a son (who was born in 1989). The family lived in Orlando, Florida. 

His son Aaron is now considered a talented amateur golfer and appeared in a film (“Healing Through Golf”) about his father. 

10. Payne Stewart Award:

The multiple golf millionaire was involved in the charitable sector. 

In memory of the athletic and human exemplary golfer, the PGA of America has been presenting the Payne Stewart Award since 2000 to players who have made a special contribution to the sport. His trophy is awarded each season to the player whose values ​​are aligned with the character, sportsmanship and philanthropy of the ill-fated Springfield golfer. 

A great champion, Payne Stewart is an indelible member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and now you also know these 10 facts about his life. 

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