Payne Stewart earned his PGA Tour card in 1982 and won his first event on the tour at that year’s Quad Cities Open. This win was especially memorable to him because it was the only time his father saw him win. He won eleven Tour events, including the 1989 PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in 1991 and 1999. He was a two-time winner of the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco. At the time of his death he was ranked 3rd on the all time money list and in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings – he had been ranked in the top-10 for almost 250 weeks from 1986 to 1993 and again in 1999.
At a time of international domination of the golf scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was often the highest ranked American player. Stewart represented the United States on five Ryder Cup teams and was known for his patriotic passion for the event, once saying of his European opponents, “On paper, they should be caddying for us.” Stewart also played for the U.S. on three World Cup teams. On October 25, 1999, a month after the American team rallied to win the 1999 Ryder Cup, and 4 months after his U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst No. 2, Stewart was killed in the depressurization of a Learjet flying from Orlando, FL to Dallas, TX for the year-ending tournament, The Tour Championship.
He was always popular with fans, especially for his clothing, and was reputed to have the biggest wardrobe of all professional golfers. He was a favorite of photographers because of his ivy caps and patterned pants, which were a cross between plus fours and knickerbockers, a throwback to the once-commonplace golfing “uniform.”