Although he was never a winner at Firestone Country Club, Payne Stewart was always a fan and staff favorite. In his plus-fours and tams in coordinating colors of the different NFL teams, he struck a unique pose on the tour. He had an easy going style yet dogged determination that won over all that met him, including his fellow professionals.
At each tour stop, Stewart would wear the colors of the NFL team closest to that city or within that city’s division. Obviously, in our case, it was the other members of the AFC Central Division. After several days of good-natured boos from the crowd on the first tee in the despised colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, he had a special treat for everyone on Sunday. He grabbed a bag out of his locker and headed for the first tee in the colors of the Cleveland Browns. He received a thunderous applause when he arrived on the tee. When he reached into his bag and began throwing dog biscuits into the crowd, it only got louder and wilder. Players on the other end of the golf course said they could hear the woofs and howls and wondered what was going on. It was a scene straight out of the Dawg Pound. After his round, he said he had never experienced anything quite like that and he loved it.
Payne Stewart had a very successful career which included 8 regular tour victories and 2 major championships. His crowning achievement was his win in the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in a head-to-head duel with Phil Mickelson. Tragically his life was cut short n a private plane crash on October 25, 1999. His memory will live on here at Firestone and throughout the golf world.