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Payne Stewart
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Stewart's caddie in lucky detour

Spending a weekend with his family might have saved the life of the caddie who jumped into Payne Stewart's arms when he won the U.S. Open in Pinehurst.

Mike Hicks frequently travels with Stewart, who died Monday with five other people when their Learjet crashed in South Dakota.

Hicks' mother, Faye, said her son probably would have been on the ill-fated flight, but that he had taken his family with him when he caddied for Stewart last weekend in the Disney Classic in Orlando, Fla.

Hicks returned with his family to North Carolina before flying to Houston.

He already was in Texas Monday, awaiting the arrival of Stewart so they could begin preparations for The Tour Championship.

"He and Payne were very close. It's going to be hard," Mrs. Hicks said.

The day after Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open in Pinehurst in June, he rode home with Hicks, and they celebrated the victory with champagne. The next day, Stewart played in a charity tournament Hicks had organized.