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Stewart's Wife Devastated

Payne Stewart's brother-in-law said Tuesday that the golfer's wife, Australia native Tracey Ferguson, followed TV reports as her husband's plane flew out of control across the heartland of the United States.

Mike Ferguson, a professional golfer and Tracey's brother, said he had received the news from another sister in Brisbane who had been talking by telephone to Tracey at her home in Orlando, Fla.

"She was saying that basically, that Payne was in this plane that was traveling out of control through the airspace in America and she was watching it on TV, which is pretty bad," Ferguson told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"She was trying to ring him on his mobile and couldn't raise him. It's just really bad for my sister to be watching it...knowing that it was her husband on board."

It was believed that the six people aboard the plane, including Stewart, had lost consciousness after a decompression in the plane.

Ferguson described Stewart as a "great guy" and "one of the best players in America."

Tracey Ferguson had met her husband while traveling in Asia and married him 15 years ago. They have two children, Chelsea, 14, and Aaron, 10.

It's barely a year since Tracey Ferguson had to cope with the death of close friend Renay Appleby, late wife of Australian touring pro Stuart Appleby who was killed in an accident in England.

"She was devastated because Renay and her were really close," Australian golfer Robert Allenby told Australian Associated Press.

"Both being Australian, they got on really well. She found it so difficult to come to terms with that and now a year later her husband dies."

So close-knit is the Australian sports community in Orlando that, according to Allenby, Natasha Woodbridge, on hearing the news, flew back immediately from Germany, where her husband Todd Woodbridge is playing a tennis tournament.

Ferguson said he had been unable to make contact with his sister but the family was making arrangements to attend Stewart's funeral.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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