Payne Stewart’s and Michael Campbell’s journeys to their respective U.S. Open Championships at Pinehurst were similar in many ways
Sadly neither of Pinehurst’s U.S. Open champions will grace the fairways of No. 2 on June 12 when the 2014 championship begins. Payne Stewart lost his life in an airplane mishap only three months after winning the 1999 Open, and Michael Campbell’s game peaked with his triumph in June 2005 and he recently announced that injuries and personal troubles would prevent his entry this year.
But for one week in the American national championship, they were the very best in the business, this Missourian with the plus-fours and graceful swing and this gritty New Zealander with steel nerves over a 4-iron and razor-sharp putter.
Each had paid his dues in professional golf by the time the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens came to Pinehurst No. 2. Stewart was 42 with eleven PGA Tour wins, Campbell was 36 with six victories on the European Tour. Both were married and the father of two children.