Hard the realize it will have been seventeen years.....sad..
Just some thoughts:
I always liked Payne Stewart, and over time I grew to like him even more.
I did not have a lot of dealings with him during my twenty plus year’s tenure with the United States Golf Association although I did talk with him on occasion regarding his entry into the U.S. Open and his responsibilities of the U.S. Open trophy. The trophy was placed in his possession for a year following his winning the Open which he did not once, but twice. On occasion his wife Tracey would call to check that his entry was on file and that all information was correct for his play that year.
For me, Payne was the kind of guy many of us knew or went to high school with. He was a little cocky and self assured, but not rude or arrogant. He was good looking, a good athlete, and popular with just about everyone. He was just a likeable, fun guy who most times was kinda “just full of himself.”
There are many reasons why I came to like Payne: how he mellowed over the years and how he worked at other things than his golf skills. Plain and simple, he softened with years. Time can have a way of doing that to most of us. At least, hopefully it will.
What I really liked about him was something he said to the sports writer, John Feinstein, when John interviewed him for one of his books. And by the way, in my opinion Feinstein may be the best sports writer in years. My personal dealings with him while on staff at the USGA were most enjoyable. That could not be said of all media folks. Now back to Payne...
When talking with Feinstein, Payne spoke about the death of his father and the birth of his first child, a daughter:
“I felt so bad that he would never see her. It wasn’t fair at all. But I felt better
knowing that he’d seen me grow up and marry someone he truly loved, and he
saw me overcome a lot of the dumb things I did as a kid. That’s the best thing
about being a parent, isn’t it? Seeing your kids figure life out. It’s the thing I
enjoy more than anything else I do; watch my kids grow and figure things out.”
As I said, I liked Payne for reasons other than his ability to hit a golf ball. I like the line about “Seeing your kids figure life out - that’s the best thing about being a parent.” Payne added, “I just hope they figure it out a lot quicker than their old man did.” I think many of us can identify with what Payne said.
Sadly, Payne died October 25, 1999.
November 19, 2014