On Friday, Feb. 7, in the shadow of the Payne Stewart memorial statue behind the 18th green of famed Pinehurst No. 2, the USGA announced the late Payne Stewart as the recipient of the 2014 Bob Jones Award, the organization’s highest honor.
Stewart memorably won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst with a dramatic 15-foot par putt to clip a young Phil Mickelson by a single shot. Tragically, Stewart died in a plane crash just four months later.
Immediately as incoming USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. began to make the announcement, the nearby Village Chapel chimes began to ring, eerily similar to the moment they chimed as Stewart sized up his 77-yard pitch to the 18th green to set up the historic finish.
“Payne’s legacy continues to shine as an inspiration to players of all ages.” USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole Jr.
“Payne’s legacy continues to shine as an inspiration to players of all ages,” said O’Toole Jr.. “His spirit and gracious attitude left an indelible mark on everyone who surrounded him. His presence can still be felt by players who were fortunate enough to play with him and by the junior golfers that his Payne Stewart Foundation continues to support.”
“Payne’s larger-than-life personality made him one of the most likable players by peers and fans alike,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “Payne’s strength of character showed through clearly in victory and defeat, which he personally experienced in the U.S. Open. It is only fitting that we will make the presentation of this award to a two-time champion at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June for players and fans to enjoy.”