In 1991 Payne Stewart wins the 1991 Skins Game over new PGA Champion Long John Daly
On this day, In 1991 Payne Stewart won the 1991 Skins Game and earned himself $260,000 in the process. Please remember folks, this was La Quinta, California but by this time conditions were downright poor. The temperature was 57ºF, and the wind was gusting between 25-35 MPH, with gusts up to 45 MPH. Jack Nicklaus had to sit out of the Pro-Am the day earlier due to back problems. During the Skins telecast he actually mentioned his chiropractors name and said, “If it wasn’t for him I’d be laid up for two weeks.”
Between 1991-1993 Payne Stewart won the Skins Game three times in a row and won over $750,000 in the process
Nicklaus, Stewart, Strange…and Daly?
The Skins Game is a wonderful event for the spectators being held at the PGA West Stadium Course. Nicklaus was no stranger to the skins game while Stewart and Strange were household names. It was Long John Daly who was the talk of the PGA Tour after winning the PGA Championship. All four were all squared and tied up during the first two holes in the blistering conditions.
By the third hole, the usual John Daly circus antics ensued. After pulling an approach and receiving a free drop along a fence he chipped in for par. The unforgiving conditions certainly played a part in the wild golf we were seeing. The next hole, the 184 yard Par 3, the first three players put their tee shots into the gallery. Stewart was the only one to come close to hitting the green before his ball trickled off the back. Daly and Stewart would halve the hole worth $80,000.
Using his distance to his advantage, John Daly makes his move
The 5th hole was worth $100,000 and first teeing off was the Golden Bear with his trusty MacGregor 3 wood. It failed him although as he pulled it left into a bunker. Strange was next who took a gamble with driver but it paid off as he caught the right side of the fairway. Daly was up next wasting no time taking on the water on the left carrying the ball 330 to get into a great position for eagle. He would squander his approach but would still claim the first skin with birdie.
At nine holes, Daly dominated most of the first day with six skins. All he had to do is win the 5th and 6th and he came out with two new cars and $120,000. Unfortunately for everyone else the remainder of the holes were squared. The next nine holes was played the following day with #10 being worth $120,000. Nicklaus teed off first wearing his famous Sunday yellow. The conditions were a little more bearable but it was the same story as the day before. All square through until the fifteen when Stewart came out of the fold to win 8 skins and $260,000.
That put the leaderboard at John Daly–$120,000…Payne Stewart–$260,000, with the other players empty handed. Over 16 holes of play Daly had birdied three different holes to halve with Stewart. On the 17th hole, the island green where Trevino got his ace in 1987 we saw more drama. Stewart & Daly both found water as Nicklaus nursed an 8 iron on the green with Strange sticking it close. Strange finally came through after failing to hole many previous chances. He finally got on the leaderboard with 3 skins of his own for $120,000. That ended Daly’s chance to pass Stewart.
Payne Stewart and the NFL…A good deal for everyone
Just a year earlier Stewart signed a 3-year deal worth $675K to wear NFL logos on his clothes. So in tradition, Stewart won wearing Oakland Raiders black & white colors with an NFL sponsored cap. It was deemed to be a good day as the Oakland Raiders beat the San Diego Chargers that day by a score of 9-7. The next day Stewart was donned in Washington Redskins attire. The Redskins beat the Los Angeles Rams that day 27-6, do you see a trend going on here? Stewart would learn to love the skins game as he won the next two years making three in a row and cashing in over $750,000.
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.