Honoring a legend

Chicago Payne tribute 1

Tom Lusk, Paul Kengott, Dave Fazio and Adam Klos pose with the Payne Stewart statue after their round on Pinehurst No. 2.

Dave Fazio, Adam Klos, Paul Kengott and Tom Lusk were in high school when Payne Stewart made his iconic 15-foot putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

That moment put Pinehurst No. 2 on their bucket list of golf courses they had to play.

Seventeen years later, on a gorgeous North Carolina morning, they crossed it off. The foursome teed off at 8:15 a.m. Thursday wearing knickers and touring hats as a tribute to Stewart.

Chicago Payne tribute 2

Paul Kengott tees off on the 14th hole of Pinehurst No. 2.

“It’s a nice way to honor a legend,” Fazio said. “We all love and respect the game of golf, so this felt like the right way to embrace the experience of playing Pinehurst No. 2.”

The decision was a no-brainer given the historic nature of the course, Klos said.

The men arrived in North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon after leaving a chilly Chicago at 1 a.m. Sunshine and Carolina blue skies offered a warm welcome.

“We changed into our shorts and we started celebrating,” Fazio said with a laugh.

But the most exciting moment of the trip happened when they woke up Thursday morning and headed to the course.

“It felt like stepping back in time to how golf used to be played,” Klos said. “It was awesome.”

Lusk was struck by the amount of legends who have played the course, from Ben Hogan to Jack Nicklaus to Michelle Wie.

“The beauty of the course comes from the fact that it hasn’t changed,” Fazio said. “The restoration makes it feel exactly the way it was when Donald Ross designed it.

“It was true golf.”