Stewart to be honoured

Fellow Professionals to hit balls out to sea in memory of Payne Stewart, the late defending US Open Champion...

Wed, 14 Jun 2000

Stewart to be honoured

With the defending Champion missing this year, what better way to remember Payne Stewart than to hold a memorial ceremony today on the 18th hole, one of the finest holes in golf.

Stewart, who died in a plane crash along with five others last October won at Pinehurst in dramatic fashion, holing a twenty foot putt to deny expectant father Phil Mickelson a playoff chance.

In an early morning ceremony of remembrance hosted by Paul Azinger, one of Stewart's closest friends, the majority of players will line up on the 18th at Pebble Beach. And at the end of proceedings, all players will hit balls out to sea in memory of the 1999 US Open champion Stewart.

"I think the majority of us are still in disbelief that Payne Stewart is not here,'' said Paul Azinger, one of Stewart's closest friends. "We've all been affected and impacted in a big way, and all been impacted in a different way. I think just getting on an airplane now is different now than it was for all of us.''

"I heard Roger Maltbie (Commentator) say this is really golf's last opportunity to say goodbye to Payne. It's hard to imagine, but I think he might be right.

"Even though it's only 30 minutes, I think we just need to honour the defending champion, and the man himself, one more time.'' Continued the 'Zinger'.

1999 Runner-up Mickelson said: "It's very difficult for me to think about last year, because it was a very emotional week. I will always remember what took place on 18 last year, vividly.''

After making the clinching putt on Father's Day, Stewart pulled Mickelson aside and reminded him there are more important things in life. "There's nothing like being a daddy,'' Stewart said.

A day later, Mickelson's wife gave birth to the couple's first child.

Tracey Stewart is expected to speak to the players at the ceremony today as will Trey Holland, rules Official of the USGA.