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Monday, June 21, 1999

Sabres still irked by Stars' Cup-clincher

AP Sports Writer

PINEHURST, N.C. Payne Stewart's personal moment of redemption came in a light rain on the final domed green at Pinehurst No. 2. With it, came a moment that will become U.S. Open lore.

In one magical stroke of his putter, Stewart managed both to erase his failures of a year ago and do something no one had ever done in 98 previous Opens win the championship with a long putt on the 72nd hole.

A day that began with tears for his late father on Father's Day ended with tears of joy as Stewart celebrated a second Open title he thought might never come.

"I got the job done, and that means a lot to me," Stewart said. "I had to prove something to myself. I had to get into position and I had to deal with it."

Any lingering disappointment from his loss in the final round last year at the Olympic Club was washed away as Stewart's 15-foot par putt went up the hill, broke slightly to the right, and dropped squarely in the center of the hole.

Phil Mickelson could only watch with a bemused look on his face as Stewart gleefully punched his fist into the air and picked up his caddie in a bear hug.

Moments later, the tears came, as the realization he had won a second Open at the age of 42 overwhelmed him.

"I will enjoy this one more," said Stewart, who won in 1991. "I won't try and change Payne Stewart this time. I don't have to prove anything to anybody anymore."

One of the most nerve-wracking of Opens ended up being perhaps its most dramatic. It had Stewart seeking redemption from an Open collapse and Mickelson playing his finest major while carrying a beeper on Father's Day in case his wife went into labor.

It had Tiger Woods making a charge with birdies on 14 and 16 before faltering from a greenside bunker on 17, and it had Vijay Singh hanging in patiently just in case something happened.

Most of all, it had Stewart making the putt that will define his career after making a career's worth of putts.

"Everything just bubbles inside of you," Stewart said, trying to describe his emotions as he lined up the putt. "And then all of a sudden it's in, and you did it."

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Pecos Enterprise
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