The Madeira Islands Open should have been remembered for being the European Tour’s 1,500th tournament. Instead it will be remembered for a different reason. It will be remembered as the last tournament Iain McGregor ever caddied.
McGregor, looper for Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth, died of a heart attack on Santo da Serra’s ninth hole. In an event already reduced to 36 holes because of fog, the European Tour stopped play as a mark of respect before resuming after a minute’s silence.
“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 – Portugal – BPI,” the European Tour said in statement.
“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 6 p.m. local time.
“All administration will be taken care of by The European Tour and we will help in any way possible.”
Players and caddies took to Twitter to pay their respects to the Zimbabwean. “Just heard very sad news of passing of my friend Ian MacGregor (Zim Mac) whilst caddying in Madeira,” tweeted countryman Tony Johnstone. “A top man and will miss him. RIP Mac.”
Gary Player also added his feelings via Twitter. “RIP Big Mac. You will be missed. My condolences,” Player said.
Scottish caddie Craig Connolly heard the news as he was preparing to loop for Martin Kaymer in the final round of The Players Championship.
“Just got to the course and hearing the news that Ian MacGregor (Mac) died on the course in Madeira. Very sad news! Great character!’ Connolly said.
Some players were unhappy the Tour decided to continue the tournament. Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm led the criticism. “Can’t believe that they are sending out players to finish the 2nd and final round when someone just died on the course!!!”
Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet also condemned the Tour’s decision. “Can’t believe there are still playing in Madeira. There is no respect anymore. How you can even walk on the 9th fairway. RIP Mac.”
England’s Daniel Brooks won the tournament by defeating Scotland’s Scott Henry at the first extra hole after the pair had finished regulation tied at 9-under-par.