Poulter to dress down in honour of childhood hero Stewart

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The Independent Online

The memory of Payne Stewart has been everywhere at Pinehurst this week: in the statue behind the 18th green that depicts his victory salute at the 1999 US Open here four months before his Learjet crashed; in the tears of the players and caddies who gathered in a twilight ceremony on Tuesday; even in the wardrobe of Ian Poulter, who has wrestled with his conscience about whether to pay his own sartorial tribute to his inspiration.

The memory of Payne Stewart has been everywhere at Pinehurst this week: in the statue behind the 18th green that depicts his victory salute at the 1999 US Open here four months before his Learjet crashed; in the tears of the players and caddies who gathered in a twilight ceremony on Tuesday; even in the wardrobe of Ian Poulter, who has wrestled with his conscience about whether to pay his own sartorial tribute to his inspiration.

Good sense has won the day and the 29-year-old from Milton Keynes will not be appearing today in his "Payne Stewart" get-up, knickerbockers and all.

"No, it wouldn't be the right thing to do," Poulter said. "I could do it and I have the kit here with me. But I don't know. I don't want to upset even one person, because one person is one person too many. I couldn't bear someone shouting, 'You shouldn't be doing that'."

The feelings run so deep here for the two-time US Open champion that that could have happened, even from some players who have not been shy in coming forward with their emotions. "I miss him, really miss him," said Phil Mickelson, while Colin Montgomerie confessed that he once carried a picture of Stewart in his golf bag.

Poulter said: "He was a hell of a nice person who was my hero when I was playing junior golf. Golf will never forget him."

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