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From The Archive

Dialogue with Payne Stewart

Continued (page 6 of 6)

You can't possibly have a problem with how much money the PGA Tour is making for you guys, can you?
Could we be making more money? Who knows? Could we disperse more money to the players? Who knows? There is the issue of players being compensated even if they don't make the cut. I'm asked to play in the pro-am because it's a requirement. If I don't play, I can't earn my pension points for the week. So it's my obligation to play in the pro-am. Now, say I come in early and do the Gillette Shootout or conduct a junior clinic and then I play in the pro-am. Then I play Thursday and Friday. People come out to watch me play. But I miss the cut. Should I be compensated? I think so. Hey, I've worked. I've put in my time. I've done everything that has been asked of me. Why should I be out of pocket? We pay our own expenses, we pay our caddie, we pay our hotel, we pay our airfare. We have these expenses every week whether we make the cut or not. It sure isn't like that in team sports. Hey, Penny Hardaway [Orlando Magic guard] played 18 or 19 games last year and got paid for the whole year.

Tell us about Michael Jackson coming to look at your house when you put it on the market.
It was funny. Aaron had some music playing in his bedroom, and when we showed Michael the room, he started dancing a bit, just moving with the music. He didn't have a clue who I was or what I did for a living. Then his manager explained that I was the golfer who wore knickers. Michael said, "Oh, you're that guy."

It would be hard to imagine you wearing anything but knickers. What compelled you to start wearing them?
When I was in Asia in 1980 and 1981, I saw a couple of guys down there wearing them, Rodger Davis and Stewart Ginn. They just looked nice and they looked different. When I qualified for the PGA Tour in '82, there came a day on the practice tee when I looked up and saw two players standing next to me wearing the exact same thing I was wearing-same red pants, same white shirt with a red stripe. I decided I was tired of looking like everyone else. So I found a company in Palm Springs that made knickers, or plus fours, whatever you want to call them. I called the guy and told him I wanted to wear his stuff, full time. He told me, "I'll tell you what I'll do. You buy three pairs, I'll give you the fourth pair for free." I said, "OK." So I bought three pairs, debuted them on a Saturday in Atlanta in 1982. I was playing with Lee Trevino, and he just wore me out on the first tee. But it was fun, and when I won at Quad Cities that year wearing knickers, I knew I'd wear them forever.

What if players were allowed to wear shorts?
You'd see some really ugly legs.

Your dad was a wild dresser himself.
Well, you always knew when Bill Stewart walked into the room. It didn't always match. He told me, "The reason I wear the bright sport coats is, when I walk into somebody's shop, they know who's walking through that door." Because of how he dressed. And maybe that subconsciously was the reason that I did the knickers.

Is it true that when you dress normally, people don't recognize you?
Sure, it's true. Why would they? Every picture you ever see of me or any time you see me on television, I've got my hat and my knickers on. People don't know what I look like. Then again, Tracey didn't know Larry Nelson was bald until he took his hat off one day.

Is there a professional you look up to personally?
Yes. I think Byron Nelson is one of the finest golf professionals I have ever met in my life. Smart. And he is a wonderful man. He has influenced me a great deal. He writes to me and we talk. We go over to his house for dinner when I'm in Fort Worth. And Byron and his wife, Peggy, stay with us when they come to town for the PGA Show.

What advice would you give to a young player just coming out on the PGA Tour?
I would tell him to remember what got him out on tour. And to focus on that part, and not get caught up in all the stuff that you get out here. In the end, what you did to get out there is good enough to keep you going. I would let them know that if you get to changing this and changing that, you can get real frustrated real quick.

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