His plus fours and tam o'shanter cap certainly made Payne Stewart one of the most recognizable players in golf. His game and his passion made him one of the most respected.
He was the essence of emotion in the Ryder Cup, playing on three winning teams. He won 18 times around the world, but made his name at home with three major championships -- the last on an unforgettable day in June when he thrust his fist into the air to celebrate his second U.S. Open victory.
Stewart was among at least five people killed today when a Learjet he was aboard flew uncontrolled for hours and crashed in South Dakota.
"There is an enormous void and emptiness I feel right now," Tiger Woods said.
Arnold Palmer called Stewart's death "one of the most terrible tragedies of modern-day golf."
Jack Nicklaus remembered Stewart's quick wit and relaxed swing.
"Payne was just coming into his own, and it is truly saddening that he has been lost in his prime," Nicklaus said. "He will be sorely missed by anyone who ever knew him or had the pleasure of watching him play."
Stewart was on his way to Texas, first for a meeting on a proposed golf course near Dallas, then on to the Tour Championship in Houston for the top 30 on the PGA Tour's money list.
The tour said his spot in the field will not be replaced. A blue ribbon was attached to his nameplate in the parking lot.
"It is difficult to express our sense of shock and sadness over the death of Payne Stewart," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "This is a tremendous loss for the entire golfing community and all of sports."
Also killed in the crash were Stewart's agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan and two pilots, said Bill Curry, a spokesman for Stewart's family. Fraley was CEO of Leader Enterprises Inc., and Ardan was president of the sports management company.
"A true sportsman on the course and a gentleman off it," said Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, choking back tears. "We have lost a precious man and someone who still had good years ahead of him."
Curtis Strange was leaving a news conference in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where he was named Ryder Cup captain for 2001, when he saw the first television reports.
"We have lost someone who is truly a great ambassador for the game," Strange said.
Stewart often played practice rounds in regular pants and a hat, and not many people recognized him. Once the tournament started, however, his presence was unmistakable in traditional golfing garb that no one else considered wearing.
"Not everyone can get away with that," Strange said. "He had a personality to do that."
He had game, too.
Stewart's finest moment in a 20-year professional career came on Father's Day at Pinehurst No. 2, the famed course in North Carolina that became a stage for remarkable drama in the final round.
A year after Stewart lost a four-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, he trailed Phil Mickelson by one stroke with three holes to play then one-putted the final three greens for a stunning victory.
His 15-foot par putt on the last hole was the longest putt ever holed to decide the Open in its 105-year history. Stewart thrust his fist in the air, an unforgettable image, let out a roar and later broke down in tears.
"He was a great credit to golf and to our country," said former Masters and U.S. Open champion Billy Casper. "Golf lost a great man."
The U.S. Open secured a spot in the Ryder Cup for Stewart, who could wear the Stars and Stripes as easily as his plus fours. He never apologized for his patriotism, something he carried to all five of his Ryder Cup appearances.
The plus fours were not misleading. Stewart really was a traditionalist. His father taught him to dance by having him stand on his shoes while he waltzed around the room, and instructed the son to be sure to dance with every woman at the table.
Stewart's most cherished memory was the 1982 Quad Cities Open, because it was the only victory his father saw. William Stewart died in 1985, and when Stewart won the Bay Hill Invitational two years later he donated the winner's check to a hospital in his father's memory.
While Stewart had an edge to him at times, and was especially surly during an eight-year slump during which he won only once, he never lost his respect for golf's traditions.
He stood up for Colin Montgomerie as the boorish Boston crowd at The Ryder Cup hurled vicious insults at the Scotsman. With the cup already decided, Stewart conceded Montgomerie's final putt.
"He had a real reverence for the game," Peter Jacobsen said. "As a golfer, his record speaks for itself. He was loved by many people."
Born Jan. 30, 1957 in Springfield, Mo., Stewart went to SMU in Dallas. He graduated with a business degree in 1979 and spent two years playing around the world. He met his wife, Tracey, while playing in Australia.
They had two children -- Chelsea, 13, and Aaron 10.
Stewart's first breakthrough came in 1989 when he won his first major, the PGA Championship, at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago. Two years later, he won the U.S. Open at Hazeltine by defeating Scott Simpson in an 18-hole playoff.
He reflected on his career last week before the National Car Rental Classic at Disney World, where he missed the cut.
"There were times when ... I played very poorly and I wasn't having fun playing golf, and I didn't want to continue," he said. "I had a wakeup call to the fact that this is what I'm good at, and I'm still good at it."
Part of his turnaround was a newfound faith, drawn to church through his children.
"I'm a lot older and I'm a lot wiser. I'm more mature," he said earlier this year. "I'm not going to blink and miss my family growing up. When I'm out at the golf course, I'm going to prepare myself to be the best I can. And when I'm home, I'm going to be a father."
He also said his faith in God had blossomed. "I'm so much more at peace with myself than I've ever been in my life," Stewart said after winning the Open. "Where I was with my faith last year and where I am now is leaps and bounds."
Stewart won more than $11.7 million in a PGA Tour career that began in 1980. He was ranked No. 8 in the world and was third on this year's money list with just over $2 million.
Stewart had planned to go to Spain next week for the final World Golf Championship event, and still had the Grand Slam of Golf next month for the winners of this year's major championships.
"It is shocking. It's a tragedy. I can't even comprehend the scope of it," Woods said. "None was us can right now."