From the Vault: Payne Stewart’s 1999 U.S. Open Cap October 25, 2021 By Victoria Nenno, USGA

Payne Stewart's cap from his 1999 U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst can be found in the USGA's Museum in Liberty Corner, N.J. (Jose Lopez/USGA)

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Payne Stewart’s win in 1999 U.S. Open transcended the game with its storybook elements: a charismatic hero, an epic battle, a thrilling victory and an iconic celebration. But the story, and Stewart’s life, were tragically cut short by a fatal plane crash just a few months later; few moments in golf history carry as much emotional weight.

The cap worn by Stewart in that dramatic final round on Pinehurst’s Course No. 2 is part of the USGA Golf Museum’s collection and serves as more than just a connection to the moment that came to define his legacy as a champion.

Stewart’s style made him one of the most identifiable players on tour. After showing up to a 1982 tournament wearing the same outfit as a fellow competitor, Stewart heeded the advice of his father, a traveling salesman: dress differently and they’ll remember you. He began wearing what became his signature ensemble: knickers, tall socks and a tam o’shanter cap. The outfits delighted fans and showcased Stewart’s energetic, attention-grabbing personality.

Stewart’s ensemble for the final round of the 1999 U.S. Open drew special attention. Not surprisingly, given his reverence for our national championship, he dressed in red, white and blue. He was normally meticulous about his appearance, but when unexpected weather called for a rain jacket that he felt was too restrictive, Stewart unceremoniously cut off the sleeves with a borrowed pair of scissors. His waterproof “vest” proved a perfect accessory for the day. Paired with his cap, the matching items endure as lasting symbols celebrating one of the most dramatic finishes in U.S. Open history and the man who authored it.

Victoria Nenno is the USGA’s senior historian. Email her at

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