Caddie dies, 1st round stopped at Dubai Ladies Masters

Anne-Lise Caudal of France, middle, talks to her fellow country players after her caddie collapsed on the course, which led to an immediate suspension of play during the 1st round of Dubai Ladies Masters golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Kamran Jebreili/AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) A caddie was pronounced dead after collapsing during the Dubai Ladies Masters on Wednesday, forcing the suspension of the first round and shortening the tournament to 54 holes.

The Ladies European Tour said play was suspended at 10:30 a.m. after the caddie fell ill on the 13th fairway of the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club. It said a medical team at the golf course immediately treated him before he was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

In an email to The Associated Press, the Tour identified the caddy as 56-year-old Maximilian Zechmann, a married father of three sons. He was caddying for French player Anne-Lise Caudal.

''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,'' Tour chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh said in a statement.

It is not the first time a caddie has collapsed and later died during tournament play.

In 2014, 52-year-old Ian MacGregor, a caddie of Alastair Forsyth, died of a heart attack on the ninth fairway at the Madeira Islands Open.

Ian Poulter was among the golfers paying tribute to Zechmann online.

''Very sad to see the passing of another caddie. Done many rounds with Big Max. (hash)RIP thoughts go out to his family and friends,'' Poulter tweeted.

Carly Booth, who was playing in the same group as Caudal, called the death ''horrendous.''

''Thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Max,'' she wrote on Twitter.

First-round play in the season-ending tournament was expected to resume Thursday in Dubai.

AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa contributed to this report.