Former European Tour winner Wayne Westner, 55, commits suicide after alleged hostage situation

Former European Tour winner Wayne Westner, 55, commits suicide after alleged hostage situation

Euro Tour

Former European Tour winner Wayne Westner, 55, commits suicide after alleged hostage situation

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European Tour pros are in shock after the death of Wayne Westner. The South African, who played on the European and Sunshine tours in the 1980s and 90s, died Wednesday after allegedly holding his wife hostage and then committing suicide.

According to reports from South Africa, Westner, 55, died of a gunshot wound to the right side of his head.

Twitter was abuzz with players tweeting R.I.P. messages. Ernie Els led the tributes when he tweeted: “Sad day, our friend Wayne Westner passed today. Great memories thank you my friend.”

Els and Westner teamed together to win the 1996 World Cup for South Africa.

Former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance tweeted: “So sad about an old troubled friend Wayne Westner #RIPWESTY.”

Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone added: “So shocked to hear of the death of Wayne Westner, double former winner of SA Open and winner of Dubai Desert Classic. RIP Westy.”

Westner had two wins during his European Tour career, the 1993 Dubai Desert Classic and the 1996 FNB Players Championship. He also won 11 times on the Sunshine Tour. In 1992, he lost the Irish Open in a playoff to Nick Faldo.

Ernie Els and Wayne Westner with the 1996 World Cup of Golf trophy (Getty Images)

Ernie Els and Wayne Westner with the 1996 World Cup of Golf trophy (Getty Images)

Westner’s career was cut short in 1998 when he tore ankle ligaments while playing a pro-am before the Madeira Islands Open. He then turned his attention to coaching. He spent time in Ireland following his European Tour career, opening the Wayne Westner Golf Academy at Celbridge Driving Range, just outside of Dublin. He moved back to South Africa in 2006.

More recently, he was involved in coaching at the Wayne Westner Golf College at Selborne Park Golf Club, near Durban on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

He last appeared on the European Tour in the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, taking up a spot as a former winner. Westner shot rounds of 77 and 76 to miss the cut. It was a far cry from 1993 when he held off challenges from compatriot Retief Goosen, Seve Ballesteros and Els to win the title. Rounds of 69-66-69-70 gave him a 14-under 274 total and a two-shot victory over Goosen. Ballesteros was another shot behind in a tie for third with Barry Lane.

Many felt that victory would open the flood gates and Westner would go on to even greater wins, but he only had that one other victory before disappearing from the European Tour scene.

Westner, a longtime student of the late Bob Torrance, was a keen student of the golf swing. He spent a lot of time trying to help average players get better. He developed a machine called Instant Golfer, a device designed to teach all aspects of the golf swing.

He was also one of the most eccentric characters on the European Tour. Westner would often go off by himself into the South African bush and live rough for up to two weeks at a time. Asked what he did in the bush, Westner said he “communes with nature, living off the land wherever and whenever possible.”

According to reports, police received a call about a hostage situation from Westner’s estranged wife, who had locked herself in a bathroom with her children after Westner forced himself into their home, demanding to see his wife. Soon after, according to police, Westner shot himself and died from his injuries.

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