Caddie dies at tourney in Dubai
Opening round suspended after veteran collapses
A veteran caddie died after collapsing on the 13th fairway of the Dubai Ladies Masters on Wednesday, forcing the suspension of the opening round of the season-ending championship on the Ladies European Tour.
Austrian Max Zechmann, 56, who formerly caddied on the men’s European Tour, received on-site treatment from a medical team before being transferred to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The cause of Zechmann’s death was not immediately made public, but local media said he had a heart attack.
“Everyone at the Ladies European Tour is extremely shocked and saddened today by this sudden death and therefore we have taken the decision to suspend firstround play as a mark of respect,” said Ladies European Tour CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh.
“On behalf of our entire Tour membership, we offer heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family and loved ones.”
There was an outpouring of grief within the golf world, with many of the sport’s biggest names offering their condolences.
“Very sad to see the passing of another caddie. I have done many rounds with Big Max. Thoughts go out to his family and friends,” tweeted Britain’s Ian Poulter.
Thomas Bjorn, who on Tuesday was named captain of Team Europe for the 2018 Ryder Cup, tweeted: “Dreadful news out of Dubai this morning. Our thoughts are with loved ones and everyone involved.”
Dubai-based Zechmann, who was caddying for France’s Anne-Lise Caudal at Emirates Golf Club, is survived by his wife and three sons.
American Beth Allen, who is assured of winning the order of merit this week, said there was no question the first round of the tournament should be halted.
“I 100 percent agree with the decision that was made out of respect for Max and his family. I don’t think anybody has any qualms about it at all,” Allen said.
Play will resume on Thursday, and the tournament will now be played over 54 holes.
Among those who had started their round, which was delayed by an hour because of fog, were England’s Florentyna Parker, who was 7-under after nine holes, and Tiger Woods’ niece Cheyenne Woods, who was second at 4-under.
In May 2014, veteran caddie Ian MacGregor died of a heart attack while caddying for Scotland’s Alistair Forsyth at the Madeira Islands Open in Portugal.
Park Tae-hwan of South Korea celebrates winning the 200m freestyle at the FINA short course world championships in Windsor, Canada, on Wednesday. An Olympic champion in Beijing in 2008 and a double silver medalist at the 2012 London Games, Park failed to medal in Rio after serving a drugs ban. Wednesday’s gold was his second in Windsor, after winning the 400m title on Tuesday.