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What A Payne
Alan Shipnuck
February 15, 1999
For the third time in the last four years, weather short-circuited the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and only one player, Payne Stewart, had no cause to complain
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February 15, 1999

What A Payne

For the third time in the last four years, weather short-circuited the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and only one player, Payne Stewart, had no cause to complain

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Over the next 2� hours, as the fate of the tournament was blowing in the wind, the tent was the place to be.

At noon the telecast came on, and Jacobsen said with mock enthusiasm, "Cool. We get to watch a tape of last year's rain-out." Actually, poor CBS went with a replay of 1997's final round. Proving how demented pro golfers can be, Jacobsen was shouted down when he tried to change the channel in favor of an NBA game. At 12:30, when CBS cut to a live interview with the Tour's meteorologist, a dozen players bull-rushed the TV monitor to listen, and they proceeded to howl with laughter at every mealymouthed pronouncement about how there might be a window of opportunity to play later that afternoon. "Who's he kidding?" Jeff Sluman asked of no one in particular.

Looking on impassively from underneath an overhang outside of the tent, Lickliter was blowing on his hands to keep warm, which led to the question of whether any of his colleagues were fortifying themselves with a toddy or two inside the tent. He shook his head gravely. "With the Tour's fines they would pay about $1,000 a sip," he said. Instead, Lickliter smoked half a pack of his own cigarettes, bummed a bunch more from passersby and blew smoke on a number of topics.

An engaging straight shooter, Lickliter, 29, grew up in a steel town, Middletown, Ohio, and the only thing that kept him out of the mills was a deal he made with his dad at age 14: If he practiced every day, he didn't have to get a real job. At Wright State, Lickliter won a tournament that was played in the snow. He was so eager to finish Sunday's round that he was literally bouncing up and down (or maybe it was just the cold). "It's a shame to be so close and be denied the opportunity to win the tournament," Lickliter said. The prospect was particularly painful because he had three-putted his 17th hole on Saturday (Spy's 8th) to fall to nine under and drop out of a tie for the lead.

Though it wasn't politically correct to admit it, Jay Williamson was actually praying for rain. Williamson is a 32-year-old journeyman who played the Tour in 1995 and '96, finishing 145th and 175th on the money list, respectively. He has been beating the bushes ever since but fought his way back onto the Tour this season by finishing 26th at November's Q school. Alas, before Pebble he had been able to sneak into only one tournament, the Sony Open in Hawaii, and his 69th-place finish there was worth only $5,252. However, over three days at Pebble he conjured up the form that had carried him to victory in the 1991 Kansas Open. With steady rounds of 69-70-71, Williamson was tied for fourth, and if play was canceled, he was in line for a check of $110,250. The top 10 finish would earn him a spot in this week's Buick Invitational, in San Diego, and having suddenly risen to 34th on the money list, he would have little trouble getting into the rest of the tournaments on the West Coast swing and most of the ones in Florida. "It's like in football, when you kick a field goal but there's a penalty on the play," Williamson said, assessing his position. "Do you take the points off the board and risk going for the touchdown, or are you happy with what you got? Right now, I need a sure thing. I need the money."

Stewart would never cop to not wanting to play, but he did admit that down the stretch on Saturday he was thinking that it would be good to be leading after 54 holes. Though he had made his move on Friday at Poppy Hills with a sterling 64, Stewart really won the tournament on Saturday at Spyglass Hill's 18th hole, where he knocked a five-iron approach from 185 yards to within a foot for the gimme birdie that provided his margin of victory.

But before he could collect his 10th career title and the $504,000 that came with it, Stewart had to get the official word from Ginn. At a few minutes past two, he ambled into the tent and said that because of the grim forecast for Monday, the final round was, in fact, canceled. "I am sincerely sorry," Ginn said.

His words were met with some restrained applause, a smattering of boos and a hurricane of activity. Within five minutes the tent was deserted.

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