George O'Grady, the European Tour chief executive, admits he will have to live forever with the decision to finish the Madeira Islands Open following the death of the caddie Iain McGregor who suffered a suspected heart attack on the ninth hole at Santo da Serra.
Although an indefinite suspension of play was initially announced, the decision was later taken to resume the event, which had already been reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather. Many players and caddies criticised that decision and O'Grady apologised for the "hurt and upset" caused following a meeting with the European Tour Caddies Association during the Spanish Open last week.
O'Grady has also set up a review of the situation to ensure lessons are learned. "As I told the caddies' association in that very traumatic meeting, if you second-guess every decision you make, you go mad," said O'Grady. "I have to live with that decision for the rest of my life. There were facts that weren't brought to light until later which is that the police refused to let the body go until they had seen his passport.
Loading article content
"He died doing the job he absolutely loved and my feeling at the time was that by playing on it was what he would have wanted to do. That was my own personal view. Of course, when you listen to everybody and how hurt they feel you can consider it again, but you have to make decisions. Whether the decision was right or wrong it was made with a very caring intent for the good of the tournament, for him and his role.We all knew him and we do masses of work for, and with, the caddies and I personally understand the depth of emotion of some of the caddies."
Speaking after the meeting, Gerry Byrne, chairman of the European Tour Caddies Association, said: "While we understand that decisions have to be made at very short notice . . . all the European Tour caddies felt the wrong one was made in Madeira. We went into the meeting unhappy and it was emotional at times, but George's humility and honesty in dealing with tough questions was greatly appreciated and it reassured us of the caddies' important position within the Tour."