Payne Stewart, 42, the golfing great who died Oct. 25 in the crash of a small aircraft in South Dakota, was an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour and stood eighth in world golf rankings at the time of his death.
He died along with four others when his twin-engine jet, which took off from Orlando, crashed in a grassy field two miles west of Mina, S.D., in the northeastern part of the state. Mr. Stewart, who lived in Orlando, had been expected in Dallas to look at the site of a planned golf course and Houston for practice rounds in advance of the Tour Championship, the PGA Tour's final tournament of the year for the top 30 players on its money list.
Mr. Stewart, winner of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C., in June, also played on the Ryder Cup team that won a spectacular comeback victory over Europe in late September. He won the Professional Golfers' Association championship in 1989, and in 1991 captured his first U.S. Open title at Hazeltine in Minnesota, after an 18-hole playoff. His career earnings were $11.7 million.
"It is difficult to express our sense of shock and sadness over the death of Payne Stewart," PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. "This is a tremendous loss for the entire golfing community and all of sports."
A favorite of fans and golfing professionals, Mr. Stewart was a flamboyant dresser and intense competitor who was known for the baggy knickers, tam-o'-shanter and Italian custom-made shoes that he habitually wore during tournaments. He was once described by a Washington Post sportswriter as "long the dandiest player on the PGA Tour in the manner of his dress . . . something straight from the Saturday Evening Post."
He began wearing knickers in 1982 after returning from a year of golf tournaments in India and Indonesia, where he'd seen Asian players in knickers. That year, at age 24, he won the Quad Cities Open after having sported knickers in all four rounds. The outfit became his standard attire and the primary feature of a line of clothing he would later sponsor.
Mr. Stewart was a native of Springfield, Mo., and the son of William Lewis Stewart, a furniture salesman and two-time Missouri amateur golfing champion. Payne Stewart would later say that he acquired his love for golf, his competitive spirit and his penchant for distinctive sports clothes from his father.
"My father always told me, 'The easiest way to be recognized in a crowd is with loud clothes,' " he told People magazine in a 1989 interview. Once, while waiting at a practice tee wearing red slacks and a white shirt, Mr. Stewart looked to his left and saw a player in red slacks and a white shirt. He looked to his right and he saw a player in red slacks and a white shirt. He vowed then and there never again to wear routine clothing.
As a junior high school basketball player, he was embarrassed on the court once when a referee called a technical foul on his father, who as a spectator in the stands was excessively vocal in his complaints about officiating at a game. But a generation later, Payne Stewart was known to draw warnings from Little League umpires about his own protests of calls at the baseball games in which his son played.
He began his career as a professional golfer in 1979, the same year in which he graduated from Southern Methodist University with a business degree.
His career had a promising start, but he descended into an eight-year slump after his victory in the 1991 U.S. Open. He captured only one more victory before his second U.S. Open title this year. He took a four-stroke lead into the final round of the U.S. Open in 1998 but lost by one stroke to Lee Janzen.
In June, with a 15-foot uphill putt, Mr. Stewart defeated his playing partner, Phil Mickelson, by one stroke on the historic Pinehurst No. 2 course to win the 1999 Open. The victory came as the result of three consecutive one-putt greens in the final three holes, including a 25-footer to save par on the 16th hole and a five-footer for birdie on the 17th hole.
That victory won Mr. Stewart a spot on his first Ryder Cup team since 1993, and his presence was said to have been a motivating factor in helping the American team rally to beat the Europeans.
Survivors include his wife, Tracey Ferguson, and two children, Chelsea and Aaron.