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Madeira officials draw flak

Ponte Vedra Beach: Golf chiefs were accused of crass insensitivity on Sunday night, when they waved play on after the death of a caddie. Ian McGregor, working for Alastair Forsyth, suffered a heart attack on the final hole at the Madeira Islands Open. When the event carried on after an hour’s delay and a minute’s silence, some were unable to suspend their disbelief.

Personal tragedy puts sport into its rightful place as surface fluff, but it is lucrative fluff and some will believe that money muddies perspective. The loss of the big picture was perhaps highlighted by the hue and cry in Florida, where Justin Rose’s rise up the leaderboard of the world’s richest tournament came against the backdrop of a row over whether a ball had moved a millimetre.

In Madeira, the European Tour issued a statement after McGregor’s fatal heart attack. “The circuit extends our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Ian at this time,” it read. “Following consultation with the players and caddies involved, however, it has been decided that play should continue and the tournament should finish. All administration will be taken care of by the European Tour and we will help in any way possible.”

A minute’s silence was observed at the Santo da Serra course and play recommenced at 6pm (local time at Madeira, Portugal). Forsyth went out to complete his round after consulting tournament officials and said: “We felt that’s what Mac would have wanted.”

However, some players criticised the Tour’s decision. “Can’t believe they are going to keep playing in Madeira,” Pablo Larrazabal, of Spain, tweeted. “Life is more important than golf.” Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, of France, who had missed the cut, added: “There is no respect any more. How can you even walk on the 9th fairway?” Joel Sjoholm, a Swede who had worked with McGregor, said he could not believe the decision to play on.