THE caddie of leading Scottish golfer Alastair Forsyth collapsed and died during a tournament on the Portuguese island of Madeira yesterday.
Iain McGregor was carrying the bag of Forsyth for the first time when he suffered a suspected heart attack at the Madeira Islands Open at Santo da Serra.
Mr McGregor, who was born in Zimbabwe but lived in Annan in Dumfriesshire, collapsed at the ninth hole of the hilly course, which is more than 2,000 feet above sea level. He was due to be Forsyth’s caddie for the Spanish Open starting in Girona on Thursday.
Organisers halted play after the 52-year-old died then held a minute’s silence, before an agreement was reached with other players and caddies to finish the tournament, prompting accusations of insensitivity.
A spokesman for the tour said: “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.”
The decision to complete the event was criticised by a number of players, including Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm who had previously worked with Mr McGregor.
“Can’t believe that they are sending out players to finish the 2nd and final round when someone just died on the course,” wrote Sjoholm, who missed the 18-hole cut in Madeira, on Twitter. “RIP my dear Mac! Way too young! This going to be a tough evening!”
France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, who also missed the cut, added: “Can’t believe there are still playing in Madeira. There is no respect anymore. How you can even walk on the 9th fairway. RIPmac.”
Nine times Major winner Gary Player paid tribute to Mr McGregor last night and said on Twitter: “RIP Big Mac. You will be missed. My condolences.” English golfer Roger Chapman, who worked with Mr McGregor – also known as Iain Mac and Zim Mac – tweeted: “So sad to hear Iain Mac has died. Sadly missed. Caddied for me. The first time was of all places, Madeira. RIP mate #topbloke.”
Scottish caddie Craig Connelly, who was hailed by Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer in the final round of the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass, added: “Just got to the course and hearing the news that Iain McGregor (Mac) died on the course in Madeira. Very sad news! Great character!”
Mr McGregor considered turning pro after a strong amateur career but turned to carpentry before caddying for a friend.
The tragedy came a week after another Scottish caddie, Neil Fyfe, 29, from Aberdeen, was hit by a car in New York state.