Hong Kong Open mourns for caddie Zechmann
08 Dec 2016 - 20:53
Hong Kong: Hong Kong Open golfers were in mourning yesterday as they wore black ribbons in tribute to a caddie who collapsed this week during a Dubai tournament.
Players were also remembering Spanish great Seve Ballesteros' former caddie who passed away last week.
Defending champion Justin Rose was among those with ribbons pinned to their clothing in memory of Austrian caddie Max Zechmann -- who collapsed on Wednesday at the Dubai Ladies Masters and later died -- and Argentine Pedro Ramseyer, who caddied for the late Ballesteros.
American Paul Peterson, who finished the first day at joint third at four under par despite recovering from sinus surgery, said: "It's sad for the caddies and the friendships that they have created; to have two guys go in two weeks is really sad."
The opening round of the $2m tournament teed off in bright sunshine with Rose, who pulled out of the Hero World Challenge last week with a sore back, ending the day on par.
The Englishman was moving gingerly on the course and admitted he was "rusty" after taking a seven-week break to rest his back but said he was hopeful he was on the mend.
He came agonisingly close to carding an albatross on the 13th hole after a near 240-yard approach shot from the fairway bounced off the flag before he converted the putt for an eagle.
Few of the big names featured at the top of the leaderboard, with US Masters champion Danny Willett hitting two under at the par 70 course and US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed even.
Poulter, who only returned to the game in October after five months out for foot surgery, also ended on two under but criticised his own mental focus after a few bogeys marred a strong start.
Also at two under par was Taiwan's Lu Wei-chih, who underwent brain surgery four years ago to remove a tumour.
Leading the field was Rafa Cabrera Bello, who ended a sparkling round with an eagle after a stunning shot from the fairway dropped straight into the 10th hole.
The Spaniard, who made his Ryder Cup debut this year, ended the day with a six under par round of 64.