USGA offers touching tributes to late Pinehurst U.S. Open champion

The flag on the 18th hole Sunday at the U.S. Open honors Payne Stewart.

The USGA is honoring Payne Stewart with a special flag on 18.


This U.S. Open marks the fourth held at Pinehurst No. 2, but it also marks the silver anniversary (25th) of the first U.S. Open held at the famed North Carolina resort.

That U.S. Open in 1999 was of course won by the late Payne Stewart, who sank a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to beat Phil Mickelson by a stroke for his third major title.

Tragically, that was Stewart’s last of his 11 PGA Tour titles as he died just four months later in a plane crash. He was 42 years old.

The site of his final victory never lost touch with Stewart as he’s honored there with a bronze statue depicting his famous single-leg kick and fist pump after making the putt to defeat Mickelson in ’99 overlooking the 18th green of the No. 2 course.

This week, the USGA moved that statue into its fan central for the U.S. Open so as many fans could have the opportunity to have their pictures taken with it.

For the finale of this year’s U.S. Open, the USGA is taking a few extra steps to honor Pinehurst No. 2’s first U.S. Open winner.

As USGA CEO Mike Whan announced earlier in the week, the flag on the 18th green will feature a silhouette of Stewart’s iconic final putt. The mesh siding around the 18th hole grandstand will, too. The pin location will also look familiar to those who have seen the highlight of Stewart making the final par save as it’s the same one used in 1999.

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“We’re really proud to be here in 2024 and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Payne Stewart’s iconic victory here. What a memory that was. I was here. His wife Tracey and his family are here. His caddie Mike Hicks is here,” Whan said on Wednesday. “I will tell you one last thing, and that is I believe we’re about to embark on something very special. 1,000 championships. That doesn’t happen very often. But it will be special partly because Payne Stewart, I believe, is smiling from above looking down on this week with great pride.”

Whan also revealed that some of Stewart’s memorabilia given to the USGA by his family is on display for players to see in the locker room this week.

This isn’t the first time the USGA has honored one of its champions with a special flag on the final hole of the U.S. Open. At the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, the first Open played since the death of Arnold Palmer, the flag on the 18th hole Sunday featured a silhouette of the 1960 champion tossing his cap in the air after winning at Cherry Hills.

With a tight leaderboard and stars at the top, the 2024 U.S. Open figures to be headed for another thrilling finish.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at



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