Tragedy mars Brooks victory

The Madeira Islands Open overcame tragedy on Sunday to see Daniel Brooks crowned the champion at the weather-shortened event.

Brooks claimed his maiden European Tour victory on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off with Scotland’s Scott Henry, but his victory was overshadowed by the death of caddie Iain McGregor earlier in the day.

Zimbabwean McGregor, who was working for Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth, suffered a heart attack on the ninth hole at Santo da Serra, a steeply undulating course more than 2,000 feet above sea level.

An indefinite suspension of play was initially announced, but the decision was later taken to resume play at 6pm.

A statement from the European Tour read: “It is with great sadness and deep regret that we report the untimely passing of caddie Ian MacGregor during play on the final day of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI.

“Everyone at The European Tour extends our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Ian 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. A minute’s silence has taken place at the clubhouse and play resumed at 6.0pm local time.

“All administration will be taken care of by The European Tour and we will help in any way possible.”

Gary Player led the tributes on Twitter, writing: “RIP Big Mac. You will be missed. My condolences.”

Several players were unhappy with the decision to head back out and finish the event.

Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm, who previously worked with McGregor, wrote on Twitter: “Can’t believe that they are sending out players to finish the 2nd and final round when someone just died on the course!!!

“R.I.P my dear Mac! Way too young! This going to be a tough evening!”

France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, who like Sjoholm missed the 18-hole 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.”

Replying to a post saying it was a pity the tournament had continued, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano wrote: “I can’t agree more ¬£shame.”

When the players did head back out, Brooks posted a five-under-par 67 for his second round to finish on nine under – tied with Henry, who birdied his last three holes for a 68.

Brooks promptly parred the first hole of the sudden-death play-off, the par-four 18th, while Henry could only manage a bogey after three-putting the hole.

It’s a big win for Brooks, who struggled on his debut season on the European Tour in 2013 before regaining his card for 2014 with a strong showing at Q-school, but he will no doubt wish it happened under different circumstances.

Earlier, numerous fog delays over the first three days had seen the tournament shortened to just 36 holes.