Tragedy struck day one of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters when caddie Max Zechmann collapsed and later died in the hospital. The incident led to the Ladies European Tour and organisers ‘golf in DUBAi’ to suspend the opening round.
At approximately 10:00am GST, Zechmann – who was caddying for French player Anne-Lise Caudal – slumped on the fairway of the 13th hole. He was attended by the paramedics of the golf course, before being rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Play was first suspended for one at 10.30am as officials waited for news, and later, for the whole day.
Austrian native Zechmann, 56, was a former caddie on the European Tour where he carried the bag for compatriot Marcus Brier and German Marcel Siem.
He is believed to have retired in 2014 and moved to Dubai. He wasn’t a regular caddie on the Ladies European Tour, and is said to have been a ‘walk-in’ to assist Caudal for the week.
Zechmann is survived by his wife Eleanor, and three sons.
In a statement released, LET CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh said: “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 first round play as a mark of respect.
“On behalf of our membership, we offer heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family and loved ones.”
Later, speaking to Sport360, Khodabaksh added: “I don’t think it was a difficult decision (to suspend play). As soon as we understood it was serious case, we then decided to suspend play in order to collect the facts and understand what’s going on.
“We don’t want players to be traumatised and also, it was out of respect for the person involved so we could provide our full attention to the case.”
Khodabaksh said he had spoken Caudal after the incident and added: “I’ve been speaking to a number of players and of course, I spoke to Anne-Lise. Without question, she was pretty shocked and shaken. She’s surrounded by her many friends right now. But yes, it’s tragic to see somebody like that.”
American Beth Allen, leading the Order of Merit this week, said she completely understood the decision by the organisers to suspend day’s play under the circumstances.
“I hundred per cent agree with the decision that was made out of respect for him and his family. I don’t think anybody has any qualms about it,” said Allen.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Mr Zechmann. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. May his soul rest in peace.”
In the time play was possible in the opening round, England’s Florentyna Parker had raced to seven-under par after nine holes, while Cheyenne Woods was four-under par after six. Australia’s Witney Hillier made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole and was three-under par after five.
Round one will resume Thursday and the tournament will now be played over 54 holes.
Sport360 reporter Joy Chakravarty covered the immensely sad developments on Twitter.
Play being suspended at Dubai Ladies Masters for an hour after a caddie collapses on the golf course. @Sport360— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) December 7, 2016
Really sad development at Dubai Ladies Masters - the caddie of Anne-Lise Caudall has had a heart issue and taken to hospital. @Sport360— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) December 7, 2016
Shocked and upset players gather near the players lounge. Our thoughts with the deceased's family and Anne-Lise.— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) December 7, 2016