Although the show will go on at the PGA's Tour Championship this week in Houston, players and fans said it won't be the same without one of golf's greatest showmen.
U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart, one of 30 top money winners playing in the $5 million tournament, was killed along with at least four others when his LearJet flew uncontrolled for hours Monday before crashing in South Dakota.
``It's going to be a tough week, for all the players to really stay focused on the task at hand,'' fellow pro Jeff Maggert said. ``It's a really tragic situation.''
Stewart was to be in Houston today for the tournament's pro-am at Champions Golf Club. The event was canceled after the plane crash, but PGA chief operating officer Henry Hughes said the 72-hole tournament will resume later this week.
``We just don't think it's appropriate this soon after this tragedy to have a festive pro-am competition,'' he explained.
Stewart's classic dress -- plus two's and a tam o'shanter -- and fiery performances set him apart on the links, but friends say he will be remembered for his traditional values and contributions to the sport.
``He's an inspiring guy, and to be on the Ryder Cup team with him and see his emotions ... he's someone I've always looked up to,'' golfer Justin Leonard said.
Another pro, Duffy Waldorf, compared Stewart to Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
``He's such a big part of the game,'' Duffy said. ``We'll probably go along here for the whole week and not feel like ourselves. We'll just be a little numb, and maybe just kind of suffering along with Payne Stewart's family.''
Flags flew at half staff at the golf course after it was confirmed Stewart was aboard the wayward jet. The mood was thoroughly somber as fans watched golfers practice in the sunshine.
``He was one of my favorite players. He was always willing to take the time to be with the fans and sign autographs,'' 16-year-old Matt Coleman said. ``He was one of the classiest guys on the tour.''
John and Linda Robinson of Houston said they admired Stewart for crediting his recent successes to God.
``He was special for his attitude on life and because of his faith. He knew where he was going when he died,'' Ms. Robinson said.