Spin back to a memorable moment: 1999 US Open

The 1999 US Open Championship will go down as one of the most memorable and popular tournaments in recent history as Payne Stewart overcame Phil Mickelson to win his third and final Major.

A year earlier Stewart held the 54-hole lead by four strokes at the Olympic Club but fell away, shooting a 74 as Lee Janzen stepped in with a 68 to win by one. In preparation for the 1999 US Open Stewart missed the cut in Memphis the week before, but took advantage by heading to Pinehurst early and getting in four full days of practice.

In The Mix

It paid off as Stewart got in the mix and birdied the 18th on Saturday to take a one stroke lead over Mickelson into the final day. Mickelson was on high alert all week as his wife, Amy, was due to give birth to their first child at any stage.

The tension throughout that wet and misty Sunday was palpable and after Tiger Woods lipped out on the 17th it was clear the winner would come from the final group.

Level going into the par-3 17th, Stewart knocked it to within seven feet. Mickelson followed up to around eight feet and the crowds erupted. Mickelson missed his birdie putt and Stewart drained his to take the lead heading down the last.

Worst Lie All Week

But there were to be more twists to come. Stewart’s drive found the rough – his caddy calling it the worst lie they’d had all week – while Mickelson found the fairway and hit an 8-iron the right side of the green to give himself a birdie opportunity.

After laying up, Stewart pitched on to the green and left himself an uphill putt for par from around 16 feet. Mickelson’s putt looked good but stayed high leaving Stewart the opportunity to clinch his National Open for the second time.

He rolled it up to the hole – and in it went – as he punched the air with that trademark stance and high-fived with his caddy. He then shook hands with Mickelson and put his hands on his head and said: “I’m so happy for you – you’re going to be a father!”

That he had the presence of mind to think of Phil and all that was going to happen in his life, Stewart endeared himself to golf fans around the world. His untimely death just four months later was a shock to the golfing word and it accentuates not only his final winning act but his whole career, which was built on respect and decency.

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