SCOTT Henry’s best performance on the European Tour was overshadowed by a controversial decision to complete the second and final round of the Madeira Islands Open following the death of caddie Iain McGregor on the course.
The decision to resume play after Annan-based McGregor, who was caddying for 2008 winner Alastair Forsyth, collapsed and died on the ninth fairway, drew widespread criticism on Twitter.
It was made following consultation involving Tour officials, players and caddies but the reaction as the tournament concluded was far from favourable.
“I don’t care who won, I don’t know or care if they even finished. I only wonder who came to the decision to carry on?” asked Ken Herring, Marc Warren’s caddie on Twitter.
Also writing on the social media site, former PGA champion Scott Drummond commented: “A new low was achieved this week…lots of disappointment being expressed tonight.”
Whether Henry was happy to play on or not is debatable, but once the decision was made he went back out and almost delivered a Scottish victory in McGregor’s honour.
One behind Englishman Daniel Brooks with seven to play when the final round resumed in the fog- hit event, the 27-year-old from Clydebank looked to have his mind on other things as he soon slipped three adrift.
However, Henry then reeled off three birdies in a sensatonal finish, his closing 68 for a nine-under-par total forcing a play-off with Brooks.
The pair played the 18th again but, on this occasion, the Scot three-putted from 25 feet to agonisingly miss out on his maiden European Tour triumph.
“I was not looking like catching up with Daniel towards the end,” said Henry, whose sole Challenge Tour win came courtesy of a play-off victory at the 2012 Kazakhstan Open.
“But then I holed probably the best putt I’ve holed all week at the 15th hole for par and that got me going.
“The last three holes I made some really good putts so it was good just to force a play-off.
“I’m disappointed to be beaten in a play-off but after the week and everything that’s happened, it puts things into perspective.”
As consolation, Henry, a former Scottish Open Stroke-play champion, picked up a cheque for just over £40,000 – a pay-day bettered only by the one he enjoyed for finishing fourth behind Englishman Tommy Fleetwood in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last August.
Despite that performance, Henry failed to hang on to his full playing privileges on the main Tour and is facing a season back on the Challenge Tour.
The Madeira event was a co-sanctioned one so the prize-money will help in his bid to finish in the top 15 on the second-tier circuit at the end of the year and get back among the big boys again next season.
“Great performance,” wrote Henry’s coach, Ian Rae, on Twitter. “Gutted for you but back on track and a win just around the corner.”
Brooks said: “It’s great to get a win, but it’s not nice to do it in these circumstances. It’s horrible what happened out there so my condolences go out to all of his family.”