Friday 23 March 2018

Caddie tragedy leaves serious questions still to be answered

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady
European Tour chief executive George O'Grady
Rory McIlroy

Karl MacGinty

TO his credit, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady apologised to the Caddies Association for "hurt and upset" caused following the tragic sudden death of popular Zimbabwean Iain MacGregor (52) on the ninth fairway during the Madeira Islands Open.

The shockingly insensitive decision to resume play that evening and finish the tournament last Sunday week showed a lack of respect to the deceased. So O'Grady's apology and his promise of a review to ensure "the lessons of Madeira are learned" is welcome.

Still, very serious questions have arisen. Firstly, why was there no defibrillator at Santo da Serra?

It's not been established if a defibrillator would have made a difference in this instance, but not having one at the Madeira Open was a surprising oversight – especially given the Tour's strong endorsement of the campaign led by former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, whose life was saved last year after sudden cardiac arrest, to supply defibrillators to every club in Britain and Ireland.

Secondly, though an ambulance was on call, it was not based on site during the tournament, another departure from the norm which also warrants further inquiry.


RORY McILROY has yet to win this year or scale the heights of 2012. Yet in recent tournaments the 25-year-old has displayed an impressive new edge which suggests next time he gets to No 1, he'll be more than tough enough to stay there.

Talk of McIlroy 'backing in' to top-10 finishes at the Masters, Quail Hollow and Sawgrass did scant justice to the resilience he showed on each occasion in overcoming setbacks that might have caused the shoulders to slump in the past.

He had to scrap hard down the stretch and barely made the cut in all three tournaments then fought his way doggedly up the leaderboard at the weekend.

McIlroy's performance on Saturday at The Players sums it up nicely. Wallowing at four-over through his first six holes, he played the final 12 in seven-under, then closed with a 66 on Sunday.

In boxing terms, the Holywood native has always had a big punch. Significantly, he now looks strong enough to take them. Mind you, McIlroy will need to show it this week at the BMW PGA in Wentworth, a course which confounds him and many other top players.

Irish Independent

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