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U.S. Open '24: Payne Stewart indelibly linked to Pinehurst

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U.S. Open '24: Payne Stewart indelibly linked to Pinehurst


Payne Stewart, in 1999, celebrates after winning the U.S. Open golf championship at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C. The U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst for the fourth time, June 13-16, 2024.
Associated Press

Pinehurst No. 2 in the sandhills region of North Carolina has 117 years of golf history behind it. That includes a PGA Championship not many remember, a Ryder Cup before anyone cared and one U.S. Open champion no one can forget.

No trip to Pinehurst No. 2 is complete without posing with the statue of Payne Stewart striking as famous a pose as any in U.S. Open history — left leg planted, right arm thrust forward after he holed a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole for a one-shot victory over Phil Mickelson.

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It’s hard to go to Pinehurst without thinking about Payne.

Any trip would be emotional for his children, especially the 25-year anniversary of his 1999 U.S. Open title, which came four months before Stewart, three associates and both pilots perished in a freak plane crash.

Chelsea Stewart O’Brien was 13 when her father died and now is a mother of two working in strategic partnerships for AT&T. She once wrote that milestone events were the hardest — the anniversary of his U.S. Open win, the plane crash on Oct. 25, 1999, weddings, births.

This week feels different.

“He had such a flair and a joy for life that it’s easy to celebrate him,” she said. “I think as we’ve grown, and our families have grown, we’re trying to remember and instill in our children all he stood for. Now it’s quite an honor to celebrate all he accomplished and the man he was.”

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She has been back to Pinehurst, most recently when Stewart was posthumously given the Bob Jones Award. So has Aaron Stewart, who was 10 when his father died. He played Pinehurst No. 2 in the fabled North & South Amateur in 2009, even using his dad’s former caddie (Mike Hicks) and the yardage book from that 1999 U.S. Open.

“Obviously, next week being the 25th anniversary of Dad’s win at Pinehurst has special significance,” said Stewart, who has two young sons and is vice president of sports marketing for Hilton Grand Vacations. Among other things, he runs the LPGA season opener.

“Pinehurst has been different over the years for me,” he said. “There were a few summers I played in the North & South Amateur and competed on the course. Overall, Pinehurst is a special place and a special village. It just means more.

“All the stuff they’re doing to honor Dad and his win is just icing on top of a special place,” he said. “It’s going to be an emotional week, for sure.”

Their mother, Tracey, will be joining them. None of them was there in 1999 when Stewart won his third major, and by far his most famous. He had his trademark knickers and tam o’shanter cap. It was raining, and he ripped out the sleeves of his rain jacket for more freedom in his sweet, fluid swing.

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Tiger Woods was charging. Mickelson was leading. Stewart, chomping away on his gum, made a 25-foot par putt on the 16th to tie for the lead, a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to take the lead and that 15-foot par putt on the 18th to win it.

His reaction — now captured by the statue — still rates among the most memorable in the U.S. Open with Tom Watson’s running toward the 17th hole at Pebble Beach when he chipped in, Hale Irwin racing around the 18th green high-fiving fans at Medinah, Woods pumping his arms after his tying birdie putt at Torrey Pines.

“Payne was one of those dramatic individuals,” longtime friend Peter Jacobsen said. “He made such an impression on the course and off the course. He had a distinctive style, he was a flamboyant dresser. He was recognizable everywhere.”

The statue is being moved for the U.S. Open, and that’s a good thing. The USGA wanted better access to it, so it will be relocated from the back of the 18th green to near the entrance, giving spectators a chance to see it and pose with it.

“They been incredible partners to our family,” Ms. Stewart O’Brien said. “It’s really neat what they’ve done. We’ve been honored to have them think so highly of our dad and have him remembered in that way.”

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There are ceremonies and other functions planned early in the week — Jacobsen will be the emcee for one of them — and Monday marks the launch of a new Payne Stewart Collection clothing line. Yes, it will include a rain vest as part of his wardrobe from that Sunday in 1999.

“No scissors needed,” Aaron Stewart said.

They were producing a catalog for the clothing — knickers and the cap are among the items, but also shorts and sweaters and pants — and they needed a cover. Aaron Stewart agreed to be the model, going to Pinehurst recently to dress in slacks and an argyle sweater.

He struck a familiar pose. Very familiar.

“It was kind of eerie how much he looked like Dad in a couple of pictures,” his sister said.

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“It was quite the spectacle to see,” Aaron Stewart said. “That was on a normal day at Pinehurst. People were walking by and there were a lot of eyeballs.”

Stewart died at age 42, just four months after that U.S. Open title that remains so memorable, and a month after the U.S rallied to win the Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

That was another big moment.

“Everything he did was in a big way,” Jacobsen said.

The cup was decided and Stewart was on the verge of earning a halve against Colin Montgomerie. The heckling, already ruthless and relentless, reached a point that Stewart walked over and picked up the Scot’s marker to concede the match.

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Perhaps it’s no wonder Stewart lives as large in death.

The Payne Stewart Family Foundation includes golf camps for lower income families. The PGA Tour began the Payne Stewart Award, which has become the most prestigious of all for players. Mrs. Stewart and her children attend in Atlanta each year during the Tour Championship in what always is an emotional night.

Scottie Scheffler has been the last few years. He was asked this week for the first thing to come to mind when he hears Stewart’s name.

“Either his putt at Pinehurst, and then the Payne Stewart Award is something I always try to go to at East Lake,” Scheffler said. “His legacy and seeing his family there is always really special. He did a lot for the communities that we play in across the country, and he was really an inspirational guy that I look up to as a player just because of the impact he was able to have off the golf course as well.”

FILE — Caddie Mike Hicks, left, and Aaron Stewart, son of the late Payne Stewart, are seen on the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., on June 29, 2009, for the North & South Amateur. Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, four months before he perished in a plane crash. Aaron Stewart will be back at Pinehurst with his sister and mother for this year’s U.S. Open to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the 1999 U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
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North Carolina

Advocates call for help as many NC child care facilities to lose federal funding

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Advocates call for help as many NC child care facilities to lose federal funding


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Advocates gathered at Freedom Park in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, calling for increased funding for childcare centers across North Carolina.

Speakers reminded the crowd that by the end of the month, federal COVID-era subsidies will dry out. Nearly one in three childcare facilities in North Carolina say that if this happens, they might have to shut down.

“Every day that passes without adequate funding for child care, another child falls behind. Another parent faces the impossible situation of choosing between work and caring for their child,” said Cassandra Brooks, the owner of Little Believers Academy.

Brooks told CBS 17 that staffing costs are what keeps her expenses so high, but there’s no way around it.

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“Anybody knows, no matter what industry you’re in right now, that it has changed. The amount you pay for staff has drastically went up,” said Brooks.

The looming funding cliff also comes as the NC Chamber released a report Wednesday, saying that childcare breakdowns are costing North Carolina $5.65 billion each year in lost economic activity. One parent told CBS 17 that the lack of options makes it difficult for her, as a single parent. 

“It’s hard to find childcare today that is affordable, and you know, bringing your kids into a daycare that you can trust people,” said Tyesha King, a prospective parent at Little Believers Academy.



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Petey Pablo leads North Carolina Music Hall of Fame 2024 class

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Petey Pablo leads North Carolina Music Hall of Fame 2024 class


The lyrics “North Carolina, come on and raise up,” might as well be the unofficial anthem of the Tar Heel State. And the rapper who wrote and spoke them will soon obtain a bit of immortality.

Petey Pablo, it was announced this week, leads the 2024 class of inductees into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, located in Kannapolis. The Greenville native and four other artists — and the Durham-based Merge Records — will join the already existing 132 other honorees. Qualifications for induction into the hall, located on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard, is to have roots in the state of North Carolina and achieve at least 10 years of national prominence.

Born Moses Barrett III, Petey Pablo more than fits the bill.

After spending time in prison for armed robbery, he turned to hip-hop and hooked up with Jive Records. His debut album “Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry” was produced by Timbaland and debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200 music chart in November 2001. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and was then nominated for Best Rap Album at the Grammys. It contained the hit single, “Raise Up,” which peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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The iconic song can easily be heard at sporting events across North Carolina these days, particularly at UNC-Chapel Hill football games and after the Carolina Hurricanes score a goal. The video for the song was filmed in Raleigh, and it’s likely the only hip-hop song that namechecks North Carolina towns like Tarboro, Goldsboro, Halifax and Statesville.

Petey Pablo’s second album, 2004’s “Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry,” was also certified gold and featured the hit single “Freek-a-Leek,” which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts. The rapper spent time in prison again after pleading guilty in 2011 to possession of a stolen firearm.

In 2016, he released a single called “Carolina Colors” that has been used as a hype-up anthem for the Carolina Panthers. Petey Pablo has also acted a bit, appearing in shows such as “The Shield” and “Empire.”

Petey Pablo is widely regarded as a pioneer in North Carolina hip-hop, an icon in the southern rap scene, and one of the original voices of crunk music. On Instagram, he wrote of his induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, “Words can’t really express the true feeling and gratitude for such an honorable recognition.”

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Lissa Gotwals

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File photo of the band Superchunk

Other inductees include the late music executive Clarence Avant, the late musician and teacher Mary Cardwell Dawson, the late country singer and songwriter Tommy Faile, and Grammy-award-winning bluegrass artist and fiddler Bobby Hicks.

Also being honored is Merge Records, which was founded in 1989 in Durham by Mac McCaughan and Laura Balance — who are also members of the band Superchunk. The influential independent record label has produced and released years of music, including from Arcade Fire, Caribou, She & Him, and Hiss Golden Messenger.

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A ceremony to honor the inductees will be held on Oct. 17.





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NC legislators advance new treatment to aid with depression • NC Newsline

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NC legislators advance new treatment to aid with depression • NC Newsline


Members of the House Health Committee advanced legislation Tuesday that would require insurers offering a health benefit plan in North Carolina that provides coverage for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to provide coverage for those procedures performed by any properly licensed healthcare provider or healthcare facility.

Representative Wayne Sasser (R-Montgomery) told members that the bill would allow primary care doctors to use TMS therapy to treat depression.

“As pharmacists, we use medication to treat depression. The reality is that only like 30% of people that take medications for depression are successful,” explained Sasser. “This particular treatment has a 62% success rate.”

Representative Wayne Sasser (R-Montgomery) (Photo: NCGA video stream)

Sasser told the committee that eight percent of the American people have major depression, 27% of Americans have been diagnosed with depression, and 11% of the population currently is dealing with some form of depression.

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With a shortage of licensed psychiatrists and therapists, Rep. Sasser said House Bill 939 is simply trying to make transcranial magnetic stimulation more available.

The National Institutes of Health describes transcranial magnetic stimulation as a non-invasive stimulation of brain tissue. A coil from a TMS machine is placed against the scalp delivering magnetic pulses to the brain. It is considered a safe treatment for those struggling with depression.

“Most insurance companies do pay for this treatment but this bill has nothing to do with mandating who pays for it, who doesn’t pay for it. It’s just making the treatment more accessible to the people that need it,” explained Sasser.

“Just want to make sure I understand, so the primary care physician can actually do the
procedure?” asked Rep. Cynthia Ball (D-Wake).

“Well, can have the procedure done. They don’t specifically own the machine that does it….they will send the patient to have that procedure done,” responded Sasser.

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Tammy George told legislators that she is a firm believer in the TMS treatment.

“I have had a lot of trauma starting at age 4 and at age 48, two life events pushed me off the cliff,” George said in offering her support of TMS.

George said when her nephew died and her daughter disappeared, she would have be institutionalized without this treatment for her depression.

“Thank God I was in a psychiatric practice that knew about TMS and got me in the system quickly. Had my general practitioner or my primary care physician known about this, I could have gotten
help and been the woman that I am today,” said George.

George told lawmakers she is a successful business owner today, but might have realized that success 20 years earlier has she been treated sooner by her primary care physician.

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She told lawmakers that she felt a difference within seven days of starting after suffering depression since age four.

“Please reach deep down in your heart and think hard about this. It’s a no-brainer for me because I’ve lived it.”

House Bill 939 moves next to the House Appropriations Committee.



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