Written by Tracey Stewart, this is the only authorized biography of Payne Stewart. The book includes a 16-page full-color photo insert depicting the amazing life, faith and career of Payne Stewart.
The problem with most authorized biographies is just that--they're authorized. They praise, adore, defend, excuse, inspire, whitewash, and love their subjects, which, in the end, conspires to keep the reader at a distance. Tracey Stewart's homage to her late husband Payne Stewart does all of that. It rarely allows a closer view than that available from where she witnessed most of his stirring final round victory in the 1999 U.S. Open: on TV.
Which is too bad, because the sartorially splendid golfer was more interesting and complex than that. Despite his deep family and religious convictions--when he played, he wore a bracelet with initials that stood for "What Would Jesus Do?"--he was certainly no saint; his early reputation as a hell-raiser was matched by a palpable whiff of arrogance later on. His accomplishments--three majors among them--were great, but his flaws were at least as fascinating as his successes. So, of course, was his tragic end, in an almost unimaginably bizarre plane crash not long after his great comeback triumphs in the Open and as a member of the victorious Ryder Cup team.
All the necessary facts are here. So are the various scriptures and devotionals Stewart relied on, the joys he felt in coaching his son's soccer team, his wrenching loss at the '98 Open, and the tears of relief he shed when he won at Pebble Beach--and, of course, Pinehurst--a year later. And so, too, is the occasional startling detail that defines a life--such as his son's request to bury his father in Payne's favorite Jimmy Buffett T-shirt, and Tracey's having to explain that no body was recovered from the plane crash. But too few other moments bring anything approaching that candid closeness. The rest comes off like a life passed through a protective filter, leaving the reader where golfers would rather not be--on the fringe. --Tally Swinfen