Two-time European Tour winner and Irish Open runner up Wayne Westner has died in a suspected suicide in South Africa, local police said on Wednesday.
Westner was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head and a pistol next to his body at the home of his estranged wife in Pennington, south of Durban.
The 55-year-old lived in Ireland for nine years from 1997-2006 where he worked in a golfing school that he set up in Celbridge and was runner-up in the 1992 Irish Open which was won by Nick Faldo in Killarney.
"An inquest was opened after a man allegedly shot himself in front of his wife at Pennington area today,” South African Police Services spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane told TMG Digital.
"Wayne Brett Westner died in a shooting incident at the Gwala Gwala Estate in Rahle Road‚ Pennington at about 8am.”
Westner won the South African Open in 1988 and 1991, but retired in 1998 when he tore ligaments in his ankle while playing a tournament in Portugal.
On the European Tour, Westner won the Dubai Desert Classic in 1993 and the FNB Players Championship in 1996, also finishing as runner up in the 1992 Irish Open after losing a playoff to Nick Faldo.
Westner later lived for nine years in Ireland, where he ran a golf academy.
Ernie Els, with whom Westner won the World Cup of Golf in 1996, led the tributes to his compatriot.
“Sad day, our friend Wayne Westner passed today. Great memories thank you my friend,” Els said on Twitter.
Gary Player, South Africa’s most celebrated golfer, said that he was "saddened by the news of the tragic passing of Wayne Westner".
Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn added: “Really saddened by the news of Wayne Westner. My thoughts go out to those left behind. Hopefully you have found your peace.”
Anyone affected by this article can contact the Samaritans on 116123.