On this day, In 1989 Payne Stewart steals the P.G.A. Championship after Mike Reid chokes on the 17th hole


Payne Stewart was waiting, As Mike Reid had an epic collapse during the 1989 P.G.A. Championship

By: Josh Morris – Payne Stewart’s hopes for glory at the 1989 P.G.A. Championship looked slim after posting an opening round 74, Stewart immediately had to get to work. Weather was a concern because of a recent incident at a neighboring golf course when three patrons were struck by lightning while standing under an umbrella. This caused officials to be on the cautious side as they delayed parts of the first and second rounds at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. Stewart put himself in position with a key second round shooting a 66 to pull back into contention.

Much attention was on legends of the game such as Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, both were trying to complete career grand slams. Palmer opened with a five under par 68 while Watson had one stroke better 67. Palmer fluttered to the +5 while Watson eventually finished five strokes back of the winner Stewart.

Reid’s epic gaffe turned into Stewarts fortune

The highlight of the tournament was on leader Mike Reid who held the lead wire-to-wire until the 69th hole of the event. When Reid stepped up to the tee box on the 16th hole, he was -14 under par, three strokes better than the closest competitor Curtis Strange. With nerves seemingly getting the best of him, he pulled his shot into the water but still managed bogey on the hole. On the par 3, 17th hole Reid stayed dry, but faltered on a green side chip shot which led to a double bogey and losing the lead. Meanwhile Payne Stewart was electric on the back nine of the final round gathering four birdies on the last five holes en route to the win. Stewart who was playing in groups ahead on Reid sank his final birdie putt on 18 just as his collapse was beginning.

“What he did on 17 is very uncharacteristic of Mike. But his misfortune is my gain. ‘’This is unbelievable. I was wondering when my time would come to win a major.’’

-Payne Stewart

Stewart would go on as one of the beloved characters in the golf world, winning two more majors before his sad fate. In October of 1999 Stewart was in an aircraft crash that claimed his life and five others. He was 42 years old and holds a special place in golf history forever…

Josh Morris

Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.

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October 2020

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