Golf

George O'Grady defends decision to play on after caddie's death

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European Tour chief executive George O'Grady has apologised for the 'hurt and upset' regarding the decision to continue playing the Madeira Open last week after the death of caddie Iain McGregor.

The long-time Zimbabwean caddie, 52, was carrying the bag for Scottish player Alastair Forsyth when he suffered a fatal heart attack on the ninth hole, the final hole of Forsyth's round, at Santo da Serra.

The European Tour immediately suspended the tournament, which had already been reduced to 36 holes due to fog, following the tragic incident. But shortly afterwards the play resumed and they decided to finish the event.

Numerous golfers and officials criticised the decision made by the European Tour to resume play at 6pm, following a one-minute silence at the clubhouse.

The Tour's chief executive O'Grady said in a statement: "We had a full and frank meeting with chairman Gerry Byrne and his committee, a meeting which was understandably emotional at times.

"I apologised to them for the hurt and upset caused by events in Madeira and I completely understand the views of people who say that we should not have carried on.

"But it was a terrible situation for anyone to be in and the decision to finish the tournament was not taken lightly, either by myself or by the tournament officials on the ground in Madeira.

"However, that decision is in the past and the important thing now is that we continue to work with Mac's family and friends - as we have done from last Sunday - to assist with arrangements surrounding the funeral.

"This will take place in Madeira next Thursday, the same day as we wear 'Black for Mac' at Wentworth (during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship).

"I have also personally instructed a review of how we deal, operationally, at tournaments with situations such as this so that we can ensure the lessons of Madeira are learned."

O'Grady also appreciated the reaction of Forsyth following the death of his caddie. "Throughout this whole process Alastair has behaved like a true gentleman in incredibly challenging circumstances.

"He accepted our decision to play on in Madeira with grace and dignity and he should command enormous respect for the way he has conducted himself throughout this difficult week."

The chairman of the European Tour Caddies Association, Gerry Byrne said: "We as a committee have faced an extremely tough week. Dealing with the passing of our colleague and friend during a tournament is particularly upsetting.

"While we understand that decisions have to be made at very short notice, it will come as no surprise to anyone that all European Tour caddies felt the wrong one was made in Madeira.

"We can now look forward to celebrating Iain's life next Thursday and strengthening our links with the European Tour moving forwards."

O'Grady is expected to have to defend many more questions about the Tour's decision to continue the tournament. He will be questioned at Wentworth about his and the Tour’s actions, while he is also due to attend a Players Committee meeting the week after at the Nordea Masters in Malmo.

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European Tour
Golf

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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