This PSA/DNA photo clearly shows Payne Stewart's authentic autograph.
Carefully compare potential purchases against the real thing.
This PSA/DNA photo clearly shows Payne Stewart's authentic autograph. Carefully compare potential purchases against the real thing.

Editors Note: As the tragic events surrounding Payne Stewart's life unfold, many collectors will want to add a momento of the colorful golfer's life to their collection. As ghoulish as it may sound, there will also be opportunists who will hope to cash in on the heightened interest in the champion's life.

We present the following information to you, our readers out of our sincere desire to honor Stewart's memory and all that he meant to the game. We hope that this information will help collectors be better informed about the authenticity of the items they may choose at times such as these. Jason Micheletto's reminiscence on the day he had Payne Stewart autograph his cap follows the short discussion on the great golfer's autograph.

As is the nature with all unexpected deaths and tragedies, there are those who will try to exploit the situation for their own benefit. I've included a photo of a Payne Stewart autograph that was obtained by a PSA/DNA representative in person and is of unquestionable authenticity for your reference. Feel free to study and compare it to any you may consider purchasing. Bear in mind that no signer is 100% consistent and the autograph pictured was signed on cloth.

When comparing a known authentic autograph to a potential purchase there are a score of things to note. The first, and most obvious, is the actual signature. While there are variations, the general shape of the letters will be consistent especially on the first letter of the first and last name. This is a capital letter and normally penned much more distinctively than the others. Often entire letters are omitted or illegible. This is the very first comparison that should be made, but there are others.

All of us sign our names thousands of times and often sports figures and celebrities sign their names tens of thousands of times. The point is the stroke becomes second nature and our hand does the work while we don't even think about it. Look for places in the autograph that look labored. Is there a loop that should be smooth but appears to have small waves or jags alluding to the pen being moved slowly over the spot instead of quickly and precisely. Another thing to evaluate is the pen pressure.

The autograph should not be uniform in its boldness. Loops and dashes (the crosses on t's for example) and often lighter as they are made very quickly. Consistent bold lines suggest concentration on the part of the signer and none of us concentrate on our own names. This characteristic could also suggest that the signature is traced or was projected on the item and then drawn over. The final thing to look for is darker spots in the ink that suggest starts and stops. This could suggest that the person who penned the autograph was unsure of what came next or how to form the next letter and wanted to check before preceding, something rarely done by someone writing their own name.

Identifying forged autographs is a science and an art that takes decades to master with constant practice. Using these tips, however, may help you decide if the autograph you are considering is a relatively safe bet and an item worthy of your hard-earned dollars.

To find out more about PSA/DNA's authentication services, click on About PSA/DNA, or to submit a signed item, click on Submitting items for PSA/DNA Authentication.

Story Behind the Signature...A Chance Meeting with the Plaid-Clad Stewart

Payne Stewart's golf ability is beyond question. He won numerous tournaments including the 1999 U.S. Open. What golf fans will remember most, however, was the way that this consummate professional flamboyantly donned traditional golf knickers and remembered that the game he loved was just that, a game. As recently as last week his sense of humor was revealed while, during an interview, he adopted a stereotypical Chinese accent to poke fun at some comments made in the golf world. While he drew criticism from sensitivity circles, it was clear that he was not being hurtful rather he was just going about the business of enjoying his life. It is this side of Payne Stewart that my one meeting with him left most firmly ingrained in my mind.

In 1995 the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas hosted its annual PGA event just a few blocks from the Texas Christian University campus where I was midway through my junior year. The tournament officially began on Thursday, as is the practice of the PGA, but there was a shoot-out on Wednesday that was free to the public. Not having the sufficient funds to attend the tournament, but not wanting to be excluded from the festivities, I accompanied a group of friends to the event.

The prize for the nine-golfer shoot-out was $25,000. Interestingly, I can't remember who won and I can't remember exactly which hole Stewart was eliminated--what I can remember was the first hole.

The first hole at Colonial is a medium length par 4 and I would guess it played about 400 yards on the day of the shoot-out. As is the practice in shoot-outs, all nine of the golfers teed-off one right after another and played the hole as a ninesome. Following the second shot by each player, the group approach the green upon which not a single golfball had come to rest. Observing this, Stewart walked to the center of the green and announced to the crowd and the other golfers, "And they call us professionals."

Following the final hole many of the golfers retreated quickly into the clubhouse. Stewart stood outside the roped off area for many minutes signing autographs and interacting with the scores of people who had come out for the event.

Every time I have watched golf tournaments since, there has been a part of me that wanted to see Stewart win. Perhaps it is appropriate that the biggest win of his career came so near the end of it. He was a man truly thankful for his good fortunes and as both a golfer and a human being he will be missed. To read more about Stewart's mysterious last flight, Golfing Champion Dies.

Stewart always took the time to connect with fans, always taking the time to sign autographs and chat with fans.
Stewart always took the time to connect with fans,
always taking the time to sign autographs and chat with fans.
An example of a Payne Stewart collectible trading card.
An example of a Payne Stewart collectible trading card.