Golf: Winning Is Everything

Stewart's U.S. Open triumph has him rolling in green

Payne Stewart wasn't the only one ready to boogie after his dramatic victory to the 99th U.S. Open Golf Championship on June 20. The next day, it was party time at Legg Mason Wood Walker brokerage in Baltimore. The reason? Last January, Legg Mason signed Stewart to a three-year, $900,000 sponsorship package under which he sports the Legg logo on his sleeve and cap. That gave the investment house almost as much exposure at the U.S. Open as the mighty U.S. Golf Assn. "I haven't had too many better days," said Tal Daley, senior vice-president for marketing at Legg Mason Funds.

In fact, Stewart's triumph is a boon for a half-dozen companies with which the golfer has endorsement ties, including Golfsmith International, Titleist, Business Jet Solutions, and Pincus Brothers-Maxwell. "This reenergizes Payne Stewart as golfer and endorser. Right now his value is very hot," notes Rick Burton, director of the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

Corporate sponsors haven't always been so excited about Stewart. At 42, he had been winless for four years before the '99 PGA Tour season began. But hours after his victory, Titleist took out a full-page ad in USA Today to spread the word that Stewart rolled to victory using the company's Professional 90 ball. Legg Mason officials discussed plans to feature Stewart on billboards. There were even predictions of a rebound for Stewart's underexposed clothing line.

Stewart makes out, too. Titleist and Golfsmith pay five-figure bonuses for winning a big championship. And each time he cashes a paycheck, a chunk goes to his million-dollar-plus portfolio--managed by Legg Mason, of course.