Tragedy struck during Sunday's final round of the Madeira Islands Open, as caddie Ian McGregor passed away on the Santo da Serra course.
While McGregor was being medically tended to, there was some thought to cancel the tournament, but it was ultimately completed. The European Tour released an official statement on the matter through its website:
It is with great sadness and deep regret that we report the untimely passing of caddie Ian McGregor during play on the final day of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI.
Everyone at The European Tour extends our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Ian 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 6.00pm local time.
All administration will be taken care of by The European Tour and we will help in any way possible.
Liverpool commentator John Bradley offered his take on the decision to continue the tournament:
So sad to hear about the death of European Tour caddie Ian McGregor at the Madeira Open. Even sadder to hear they made the players carry on— John Bradley (@JBcommentator) May 11, 2014
McGregor, who was carrying the bag of European Tour golfer Alastair Forsyth, was believed to have suffered a heart attack on the ninth hole, according to a report by BBC Sport. An outpouring of support followed from the legendary Gary Player and Open champion Paul Lawrie:
RIP Big Mac. You will be missed. My condolences— Gary Player (@garyplayer) May 11, 2014
One of the caddies ian Mcgregor (mac) died on the course today in Madeira while working for al forsyth , great guy RIP my friend— Paul Lawrie (@PaulLawriegolf) May 11, 2014
The 2014 Madeira Islands Open had been delayed numerous times due to heavy fog and was reduced to 36 holes rather than the regular 72 because of it. But that adversity was nothing compared to what befell McGregor on Sunday.
According to Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com, McGregor was 52 years old.
A moment of silence in the clubhouse was a warm gesture, yet it had to be difficult for all the players to carry on amid such ominous circumstances, particularly Forsyth, who went on to shoot a three-over 75 and tie for 63rd.
This marked Forsyth's first made cut following four misses on the European Tour, so at least he was able to post a finish. However, moving forward, the focus will be far from the links, as many players, current and former, as well as the tour as a whole, evidently had the utmost respect for McGregor.
Perhaps such a sad set of circumstances can be prevented in the future with an effort to increase medical personnel on the course. Even though golf isn't inherently dangerous, McGregor's passing could at least lead to a discussion on how to prepare for such unfortunate occurrences.
Thoughts go out to all of those impacted by this tragic situation.