PINEHURST, N.C. – Sitting in the backseat of his parents’ car with his sister and mom, a 10-year-old Rickie Fowler remembers being overcome with emotion as they drove down College Road – one of his heroes had just tragically died in a plane crash.
Fowler couldn’t help the tears; Payne Stewart was a player he looked up to as he was honing his own skills as a standout junior golfer.
Fast forward 15 years, and Fowler found the proper stage to pay his respects to a man that he never met.
Before teeing it up in the opening round of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 – the site of Stewart’s dramatic 1999 U.S. Open victory – Fowler showed up on the range in knickers, a fitting tribute to Stewart’s unique fashion sense.
“I just thought it was fitting and thought it would be really cool to be able to do it. I don’t think anyone outside really my family, the people at Puma, a couple close friends, probably 10 people actually knew I was going to wear this today. I tried to keep it as quiet as possible,” said Fowler.
Fowler felt the love from fans around the course, with a fan on No. 1 even shouting out, “Rickie Stewart!”
“It was cool to walk around and be in the middle of it and kind of share it with the fans,” said Fowler.
One item missing from Fowler’s get up? Stewart’s signature hat, first made famous by Ben Hogan.
“I was sticking to flat bill the whole time. I’m not sure how I would look and how we would work that out with Puma or Cobra. I’m sure we could find a way to make it. But I think the outfit did all right today,” said Fowler.
He received support from his fellow players, getting a thumbs up from Phil Mickelson, who battled Stewart down the stretch in 1999.
“I don’t think I could pull it off, but he can,” said Hideki Matsuyama, who played with Fowler on Thursday.
Will the knickers return for the rest of the tournament?
“I think I’m back to pants tomorrow,” Fowler joked.
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More about his Puma outfit
• Jacquard Pattern polo ($75)
• Emanmel Fitted belt ($50)
• Biofusion LE ($170)
• Custom Cobra hat ($26)
• Apparel is from the summer/fall collection.