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American professional golfer Payne Stewart had eleven tour victories and three major titles under his belt when he died at age 42 in a plane crash.
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Professional golfer, born William Payne Stewart, born January 30,1957 in Springfield, Missouri. Stewart, who began playing golf at the tender age of four, was co-champion of the Southwest Conference during his senior year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After graduating in 1979 with a degree in business, Stewart played on the Asian Tour for two years before earning a spot on the PGA Tour.
He won his first title at the Miller High Life tournament at Quad Cities in 1982, his first season on the tour. After a second victory at the 1983 Walt Disney World Golf Classic, Stewart failed to win another title until 1987, finishing second six times. In memory of his father, Bill, who died of cancer in 1985, Stewart donated the entire $108,000 of his next winner's purse to a Florida hospital. Two years later, he won his first major title, the 1989 PGA Championship, after entering the final round six strokes behind the leader. In 1991, he recovered from an early-season nerve injury in his neck to take a second major title, the U.S. Open, in a playoff victory over Scott Simpson.
Invariably decked out in classic knickers and a tam-o??-shanter hat, Stewart became famous on the tour and among fans for his singular style. While his brash self-confidence and unapologetically candid views annoyed some of his fellow pro golfers and members of the media, he remained a crowd favorite. In June 1999, Stewart won his second U.S. Open after sinking a decisive fifteen-foot putt on the 18th hole??the longest putt ever to decide that championship. In October, he participated in his fifth Ryder Cup Championship, gracefully conceding the final putt of his match with Colin Montgomerie after his United States team had already assured itself the victory over Europe.
Tragically, on October 25, 1999 a private Learjet carrying the forty-two-year-old Stewart from his home in Orlando, Florida to the PGA Championship in Houston crashed in South Dakota. The plane had flown uncontrolled for several hours above the mid-western United States before crashing to the ground; none of the five passengers survived.
With eleven tour victories, including three major titles, Stewart was third on the PGA Tour's all-time money list of career earnings during the 1999 season. He was survived by his wife, Tracey Ferguson, and their two children, Chelsea and Aaron.
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