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Profiling Professional Golfer - Payne Stewart

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Profiling Professional Golfer, Payne Stewart Payne Stewart was born in Missouri in 1957 and died in a plane crash in 1999. He was only 42 years old when he died. During his career, he won the U.S. Open in 1991 & 1999. He won the PGA Championship in 1989. He was a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and he was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for five years (1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1999). In this profile, I will discuss how Payne Stewart, Professional Golfer, started out on the PGA Tour, detailing some of the experiences that shaped him; his struggles with making a living while playing the game, his professional accomplishments, personal losses and magnificent triumphs. In June 1999, Payne Stewart was at the top of his game; during the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Mr. Stewart’s wife, Tracey, described her husband’s life-long love of the game, his natural athletic ability, and the mentoring and coaching he received from his father beginning at the age of four. He had a lot of amateur success and played college golf at Southern Methodist University in Texas. His apparent lack of interest in academics spanned from elementary school through college; only applying himself only when it would allow him to further pursue his dream of a career as a professional golfer. Even with his immense talent, Steward originally struggled to qualify for his PGA Tour Card and reluctantly decided to accept a place on an overseas amateur golf tour, where he would eventually meet some of the best friends of his life; including his future wife. His wife, Tracey shared some of Payne’s anecdotes of when he was touring in Asia with his American teammates; recounts how she and Payne first met and fell in love “at first sight”, how she followed the tour with him for weeks at a time and how Payne proposed at a crowded reception in Singapore. He turned pro in 1979 and went overseas to play on the Asian golf tour. He returned to America after two years and joined the U.S. PGA Tour. Stewart was a big hit with fans immediately because of his talent and personality. He first started wearing the knickers in 1982. The fans liked it so much that he continued to dress this way through his entire career. After several attempts to qualify for the PGA Tour, Payne made the circuit, began winning tournaments and was able to earn a living playing golf; allowing him to move him and his wife to Florida where he could practice year-round. Payne Stewart was generally thought of in the golf world as someone who didn't win as much as he should based on his talent. He was very talented and earned a lot of money playing golf, but most of the time he only finished in the top five or ten. Losing his father to cancer shortly after the move to Florida, motivated Payne to begin playing the game with even more passion in honor of the man who was his mentor, friend and coach. After the birth of his daughter, Chelsea, Payne had sixteen top-ten finishes; which was a PGA Tour record, but he still continued to miss out on the first-place spot. A turning point and two major victories finally arrived when Payne started to work with a sports psychologist who helped him to focus on his game and win his first major tournament in 1989; The PGA Championship and his second in 1991; The U.S. Open Championship. After winning the U.S. Open Championship in 1991 and with the cloud lifted of having won his first major tournament, Payne Stewart The Authorized Biography, details how Payne held a steady rhythm through the rest of the season; placing in five top-ten finishes, securing new product endorsement deals and working harder to improve his game. Although his ’91 win gave him the accomplishment of a lifelong dream, the next few years would prove to be some of the most trying and tense times of Payne’s life; involving events such as beginning construction of a new 15,000 square foot home, a new contract to endorse and use a new type of golf clubs and balls, and the news that his best friend, Paul Azinger, had been diagnosed with cancer. Along with Payne struggling to learn how to play with a new brand of clubs and a new type of ball, the house construction was taking every minute of his time, the budget was spiraling out of control and Payne was constantly worried about his friend’s condition. The battle to work with the new clubs became so insurmountable that Payne became discouraged with his consistent low scores and earnings, he began to change his swing; making things even worse, and ultimately fired his caddie of five years and stopped practicing altogether. But by 1994, the new house was finally finished, Payne had buckled down and worked the kinks out of the new clubs, was playing better and placing in the top-ten again, but most importantly, Payne’s friend, Paul, was well on his way to recovering from cancer and Payne now had a renewed inspirational outlook on life. Even though he had just lost the 1998 U.S. Open to Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart’s golf career was going better than it ever had; with six top-ten finishes and over a million dollars in earnings for the year. Payne Stewart, The Authorized Biography, reveals how Payne had a new foundation in life where he realized that he was blessed to have been given the ability to play golf, and he enjoyed the fact that through his gift, he was able to give back to many of the charities and organizations he believed in. Payne came to know a higher level in his Christianity, began reading and studying the Bible more and shared his faith with his friends and family. Following an amazing win at the U.S. Open on Father’s Day of 1999, in early October of that same year, Payne was presented with the first annual Legacy Award; which honored someone whose life is an example of giving back to the community. Just ten days later, on October 25, 1999, Stewart's life ended. He was on board a Lear Jet taking off from Orlando, Florida, and heading to Texas. Somewhere along the way, the plane took an unexpected turn and began heading north, up through the Midwest. Air traffic controllers couldn’t get a response from the plane. An F-16 fighter jet pulled alongside and tried to contact the crew. There was no response and the windows were fogged over. It was determined later that a cabin leak had caused the plane to slowly lose air pressure, and cause the crew and passengers to become unconscious. As the world watched on TV, the plane continued to fly on autopilot for four hours and fourteen hundred miles without anyone touching the controls. Escorted by F-16 fighter jets, pilots were authorized to shoot the plane down if it appeared headed for a populated area, but it finally ran out of fuel and crashed in a field in South Dakota. Stewart and the five others on-board were already dead from hypoxia - lack of oxygen - before the crash. Payne Stewart was a man who enjoyed life and was often referred to as the ‘life of the party’. He was a very religious man who strongly believed in faith and family. He and his family were very active in many charities. His life and legacies will be remembered by many.…...

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