Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

P G A _ G O L F

Associated Press
Payne Stewart celebrates winning the
U.S. Open golf championship in June.

Stewart’s death
leaves void

Mark Rolfing calls it
a tragedy for his family,
friends and his sport

By Bill Kwon


The death of Payne Stewart was a tragedy, a very devastating loss to his family and close friends, and to the sport of golf for who he was, said Mark Rolfing, NBC's golf analyst.

Stewart, the reigning U.S. Open champion, died yesterday with five others when their Learjet crashed in South Dakota on its scheduled flight from his home in Orlando, Fla., to Dallas.

His death also has impacted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, scheduled for Nov. 23-24 at the Poipu Bay Resort on Kauai.

Stewart was to play with the three other winners of golf's major championships in the $1-million event - PGA champion Tiger Woods, Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and British Open winner Paul Lawrie.

The sponsoring PGA of America is expected to make an announcement shortly regarding the event.

Davis Love III is the first alternate for the Grand Slam event, but Rolfing did not think Love would accept the invitation.

"I think it would be very difficult for Davis to replace Payne Stewart," Rolfing said.

Love's father, Davis Love II, also died in a plane crash in 1988. Love had just arrived on Maui for the Kapalua International when his father's plane was reported missing.

Rolfing , Kapalua's tournament director then, had been the first to tell Love the news.

"He turned around and caught the first flight back to San Francisco and home," Rolfing said.

No one had more empathy for Love than Rolfing. His own father died in a plane crash when he was a youngster.

"Anytime there's a plane crash, it's difficult for me," Rolfing said.

"Making it more difficult is not knowing at first if there are any survivors."

Rolfing suggests that the PGA Grand Slam event be held as scheduled, but changed from a match-play format to stroke play with the three players and the fourth-place money of $150,000 be donated to the Payne Stewart Foundation.

Stewart was to have played Olazabal in the first round in match play.

Olazabal told the Associated Press that he remembered Stewart as a "true sportsman on the course and a gentleman off it."

"There is an enormous void and emptiness I feel right now," Woods said.

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin