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Payne Stewart
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Golfing world mourns loss of Payne Stewart
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Stewart remembered at service on first tee

In a chilling start to the Tour Championship, a lone bagpiper marching through the fog played "Going Home" today as players gathered on the first tee of the Champions Golf Club to remember U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart.

"When he died on Monday, a big part of us died, too," said Tom Lehman, who offered a prayer after a brief service that left everyone somber and most in tears.

About 45 minutes after the service, Duffy Waldorf teed off on No. 10 by himself in what will be a tournament like no other.

It didn't take long to show why. Two groups later, Bob Estes used his putter for the first shot of the tournament.

"That's for you, Payne," Estes said. Estes wound up with a double bogey.

Not every one was convinced the tour should have proceeded with the $5 million Tour Championship for the top 30 on the money list. But PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Davis Love III were among those who said it could be a platform to honor Stewart's memory.

Stewart, a winner of 18 tournaments around the world and three major championships, was as traditional as golf with his knickers and tam o'shanter cap. The scene at his memorial service likewise took on the very nature of 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. Among those not in the field who came to the service were Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw, Steve Elkington and Doug Sanders, who like Stewart was renowned for his colorful attire.

"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 Stewart was a great champion, a tenacious competitor - no better example than the U.S. Open - and a real showman. Payne represented the best of golf.

"It's important not to lose sight of the most important thing about Payne Stewart. He was a man of great faith, a devoted, compassionate and most energetic husband and father, and a man of tremendous generosity."

The service was short and simple, but long on emotion.

While not every player in the field gathered around the first tee, those who did had their heads bowed or stared vacantly as Lehman spoke about Stewart. Lehman then offered a prayer, asking for comfort for Stewart's wife and two children, and the families of the other five victims in the crash.

"He was a very emotional guy," Lehman said. "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."

He paused often to speak clearly through the tears.

After a moment of silence, the bagpiper, Steve Agan of Houston, played "Amazing Grace." He then turned his back on the players and blew into the pipes once more, playing "Going Home" as he walked down the first fairway.

By then, the fog was beginning to lift.