The skirl of a lone bagpipe playing the Scottish lament "Going Home" cut through ghostly fog in a chilling tribute to Payne Stewart before the start of the Tour Championship today.
With sullen faces and vacant eyes, Stewart's peers on the PGA Tour sat on white folding chairs on the first tee of Champions Golf Club to honor his memory at the tournament where he was to have played.
"He loved to laugh, and he was not ashamed to cry. I'm not going to be ashamed of my tears this morning, and neither should you," said Tom Lehman, one of Stewart's Ryder Cup teammates. "When he died on Monday, a big part of us died, too."
Stewart, a winner of 18 tournaments around the world and three major championships, was as traditional in his plus-fours and tam o'shanter as the game itself. That spirit lived on in a service that showcased golf's roots.
Shrouded by an eerie fog, the bagpiper walked 100 yards toward the first tee playing a song about a Scotsman finally returning to his homeland.
"It was beautiful," Tim Herron said. "The bagpipes drew you into Payne Stewart. When you think of bagpipes, you think of Payne."
Stewart was traveling to Texas to play in the Tour Championship when his plane crashed. Killed with Stewart were his agents, Robert Fraley and Van Ardan; pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue; and Bruce Borland, one of Jack Nicklaus's golf course designers.
Not every one was persuaded the tour should have proceeded with the tournament, but PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was among those who said it could be a platform to honor Stewart.
"We are still in shock, 72 hours after the terrible plane crash on Monday took from us one of our great champions," Finchem said. "Payne represented the best of golf. He was a man of great faith, a devoted, compassionate and most energetic husband and father, and a man of tremendous generosity."
Players hugged each other as they left the service and headed past the practice green, where Duffy Waldorf was getting ready for the first tee time in the $5 million event for the top 30 money-winners.
It was a startling reminder that there was golf to be played.
And the toughest part is still to come.
Not long after making nine birdies in 27 holes for a score of 7-under 99 at Champions Golf Club, Davis Love III boarded a private plane for Orlando, along with Tiger Woods, who was a shot back. Fred Funk, Carlos Franco and Steve Pate, one of Stewart's Ryder Cup teammates, each were at 9-under 101.
Woods hit through a rock the size of a baseball and left the course holding his left wrist in pain.
"It's not my wrist, it's my whole arm," Woods said before heading off to the fitness trailer. "It's just a little stinger, a pinched nerve somewhere. It don't have the strength I normally have. They'll fix it. I should be all right."
Woods and other players are scheduled to attend a memorial service for Stewart, among six people killed in the plane crash, at 11 a.m. Friday.
Once again, the 29 players in the lucrative Tour Championship will have to figure out how to put their effort and concentration into what felt like a silly game in the first round.
"It just didn't excite me," Love said. "The fun doesn't last very long. It was more like work."
"That's not the way you plan to start any round of golf," Duffy Waldorf said.
Because no one took Stewart's place in the field of top 30 money-winners, Waldorf played alone. He decorated every one of his balls with colorful inscriptions about Stewart. One had a cross with the words "In a better place" written next to it.
All the players wore a black ribbon tied to their hats or shirts, and some attached a tartan to their bags.
Bob Estes used his putter for the first shot of the tournament, rapping it about 15 feet--the length of that historic putt Stewart made in June to win the U.S. Open.
"That's for you, Payne," he said. Estes wound up with a double bogey.
In Florida today, New York Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser gave a eulogy for Fraley at a private memorial service. Stewart's wife and children attended, along with New York Jets Coach Bill Parcells and golfers Greg Norman and Lee Janzen.
"Orel Hershiser gave a very eloquent, very moving and very touching speech," said Elise Maynard, a friend who attended the service near Orlando, where Stewart lived.
Lehman considered not playing this week because his mind was not on golf, but then Finchem asked him to offer a prayer at the service Thursday morning. After a few remarks, Lehman prayed for comfort for Stewart's wife and two children, and the families of the other victims.
"I was up all night . . . worrying about completely collapsing and not being able to blubber a word," Lehman said. "I think it's appropriate that we had that service."
The players bowed their heads or stared into space as he spoke.
After a moment of silence, the bagpiper, Steve Agan of Houston, played "Amazing Grace." Then he turned and walk back down the fairway, again playing "Going Home."
CAPTION: Tom Lehman sheds tears as he and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem mourn Payne Stewart.