The 2024 US Open flag on No. 18 at Pinehurst No. 2 honors Payne Stewart
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The 2024 US Open flag on No. 18 at Pinehurst No. 2 honors Payne Stewart

A photo of Payne Stewart
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The first US Open played on Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina was in 1999, when Payne Stewart won his final major championship with a 20-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to hold off Phil Mickelson.

Stewart would die in a tragic plane crash just four months later, stunning the golf world in a way that still reverberates today.

The fourth US Open contested on Pinehurst No. 2 concludes on Sunday in the Village of Pinehurst, and the USGA is paying tribute to their 1999 champion with a special flag on the 18th hole.

The Sunday red flag will be placed in the same position where Stewart made that winning par putt to finish on 1-under 279, and that flag will have Stewart's silhouette as he looked when the putt fell into the hole.

Stewart leaned forward, pushed his right arm out and his right leg back as he celebrated winning his third and final major title of his career. He then hugged his caddie, eventually grabbing his face with two hands and let out celebratory yelps as he couldn't believe that he made that putt.

Stewart then walked over to Mickelson, who was seeking his first major championship title and simultaneously expecting his wife Amy to go into labor with the couple's first child on that Sunday. Stewart grabbed Mickelson, too, by the face after shaking his hand and told him that being a father is the greatest gift.

A statue of Stewart in his winning pose stands just behind the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2, and hundreds of thousands of people have taken their picture with it over the years. The statue was moved this week into a publicly accessible area of the grounds, allowing more fans to get their moment with the statue.

The winning caddie on Sunday will take the flag with them as a memento of the victory earned with their player in the national championship, and it'll have an extra special meaning attached to it with that Stewart silhouette.

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Ryan Ballengee

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