Estes later caught flak from some other pros, among them Nick Price, who said a more meaningful gesture would have been to birdie the hole, but Estes stood his ground. "I wasn't trying to draw attention to myself," he said. "I had so much emotion on the 1st tee, I wanted people to know how much Payne meant to us."
Attending the service in Orlando on Friday morning and then returning to Houston that evening made for a long day for the players, but Woods, who lives in Orlando, took the opportunity to stop by his house and pick up his backup sand wedge because on Thursday he had destroyed the head on his original wedge while hitting a foolhardy shot. On the 411-yard par-4 15th hole, his 24th of the day, he pushed his tee shot, and it lodged next to a tree, flush against a rock the size of a driver head. Instead of incurring a penalty by taking a drop, Woods opted to swing through the rock. He succeeded in advancing his ball about 20 feet and irritating the nerves in his left wrist, arm and shoulder, giving himself a stinger that caused him to wince in pain on every full shot for the remainder of the round. The good news was that the day off did wonders for Woods, and on Saturday he returned at 100% to take control of the tournament, finishing that day's 27 at 13 under par to build a three-stroke lead over Chris Perry, his closest pursuer.
On Sunday, before golf again became the primary focus, most of the players made one last gesture to honor Stewart by donning knickers for the final round, something they had debated doing earlier in the week. "I was against it at first," said Love, "but today I told Tom Lehman, 'This just feels right.' " Stuart Appleby went so far as to borrow an outfit from Stewart's own closet and, thus attired, bore an unsettling resemblance to its owner.
What began as another day to remember Stewart, ended as another day to marvel at Woods. The top-ranked player in the world for 29 out of 43 weeks this year, he leads the Tour in seven of its 13 statistical categories and, scariest of all, is 23 and only getting better. "I haven't seen anybody have a year like this since I've been out here," says Love. "Nick Price was the closest; then you'd have to go back to Jack Nicklaus. I said the first couple of years he was here that he was not even close to how good he could get. We are starting to see that now. He is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of us."
When he has gone into the final round either tied for or in the lead, Woods has won 11 straight times and lost only once. As closers go, he is golf's answer to Mariano Rivera, and on Sunday he made two birdies in his first nine holes to eliminate any suspense.
Still, his dominating performance, as remarkable as it was, wasn't what everyone will remember about the most mixed-up Tour Championship ever. The message of the week was sent by Stewart.
"We are reminded how short life really is, and how we are just passing through," said Hal Sutton. "So all the people you haven't told you love lately, tell them, and live your days like you mean it."