Thursday, Jun. 18, 2009

Payne Stewart vs. Phil Mickelson (1999)

A key player in this duel wasn't even on the course. Mickelson's wife, Amy, was back home in Scottsdale, Ariz., set to give birth to the couple's first child. So Mickelson carried a beeper during his final-round clash with Stewart and his famous plus-fours. If Amy went into labor, Mickelson said he'd skip out of the Pinehurst Country Club to be with his wife. The beeper stayed silent. Tied at the par-3 17th hole, both Stewart and Mickelson hit mesmerizing tee shots that landed near the hole. But Mickelson missed his eight-footer for a birdie, while Stewart sank a three-footer. Stewart, however, muffed his drive on the final hole and needed to make an 18-foot, right-to-left breaking putt to save par and prevent a playoff. He sank the longest winning putt in U.S. Open history. Mickelson's wife gave birth the next day. Stewart, a two-time U.S. Open champ, died in a plane crash four months later.