The European Tour has been strongly criticised for completing the Madeira Islands Open, despite the death of caddie Iain McGregor on the course yesterday.
Zimbabwean McGregor, 52, who was carrying for Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth, yesterday suffered a heart attack on the ninth hole at Santo da Serra, a steeply undulating course more than 2,000ft above sea level.
An indefinite suspension of play was initially announced but the decision was later taken to resume play at 6pm, with England’s Daniel Brooks eventually beating Scotland’s Scott Henry on the first play-off hole.
The decision to finish the event was criticised by a number of players, including Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm who had previously worked with McGregor, who lived at Annan.
Sjoholm, who missed the 18-hole cut, wrote on social media.”Can’t believe they are sending out players to finish the second and final round when someone just died on the course. RIP, my dear Mac. Way too young. This is going to be a tough evening.”
France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, who also missed the cut, wrote: “Can’t believe there are still playing in Madeira. There is no respect anymore. How you can even walk on the ninth fairway?”
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano wrote: “Really sad news from Madeira. We are going to miss you, Mac.”
A statement from the European Tour read: “It is with great sadness and deep regret that we report the untimely passing of caddie Iain McGregor during play on the final day of the Madeira Islands Open.
“Everyone at the European Tour extends our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Iain at this time. Following consultation with the players and caddies involved, however, it has been decided that play should continue and the tournament should finish. A minute’s silence has taken place at the clubhouse and play resumed at 6pm local time. All administration will be taken care of by the European Tour and we will help in any way possible.”
Nine-time major winner Gary Player led the tributes on Twitter, writing: “RIP, Big Mac. You will be missed.”
Scottish caddie Craig Connolly, who was preparing to work for joint-leader Martin Kaymer in the final round of the US tournament players’ championship in Florida, wrote: “Just got to the course and hearing the news that Iain McGregor died on the course in Madeira. Very sad news. Great character.”
The European Tour’s 1,500th tournament had been reduced to 36 holes due to numerous lengthy delays caused by fog, with Brooks and Henry eventually finishing tied on nine under par.
Henry birdied the last three holes to force a play-off but then three-putted the first extra hole, the 18th, as Brooks secured the title with a par.