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Stewart's caddie Hicks to carry for Bob Estes

Mike Hicks, the caddie who spent 12 years working for Payne Stewart before the U.S. Open champion was killed in a plane crash, said he will return to work next year for Bob Estes.

While Hicks at first wasn't sure he would carry anyone's bag again, Estes is a natural fit. The 33-year-old Texan had grown close to Stewart this year, especially since they worked with the same swing coach and sports psychologist.

Estes paid tribute to Stewart in the Tour Championship by using his putter on the first tee of the first round, hitting the ball about 15 feet -- the length of the putt Stewart made to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 before he leapt into Hicks's arms.

While Estes has only one PGA Tour victory, he has become one of the more consistent players and is coming off his best season ever. He missed only one cut in 28 tournaments, had nine top-10 finishes and earned $1.4 million.

Stewart, who won three major championship in his career, was among six people killed Oct. 25 when his LearJet flew uncontrolled across the country before running out of fuel and crashing in South Dakota.