Former golfer Wayne Westner dies after hostage situation

South African was well known in Ireland after opening a golf school in Celbridge

Former golfer Wayne Westner in 1999. File photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Former golfer Wayne Westner in 1999. File photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Wayne Westner, the former South African professional golfer who spent almost a decade living and teaching the sport in Ireland, died on Wednesday after apparently shooting himself following a hostage situation at his home.

The South African Police Service confirmed that Westner (55) died at about 8am at his home in Pennington on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast of South Africa as a result of a gunshot wound to the right side of his head.

A police spokesman said officers received a call of a hostage situation at the property, and that Westner’s wife and children had apparently locked themselves in a bathroom.

“He allegedly wanted to see his wife and thereafter he allegedly shot himself,” said the spokesman. “The firearm used in the commission of the crime was seized by the police.” Nobody else was injured in the incident.

In a statement, the police said: “An inquest has been opened after a man shot himself in front of his wife at Pennington area today. His body was removed to the KZN Medico-Legal Mortuary in Park Rynie for a postmortem examination.”

Second Captains

Westner lost to Nick Faldo in a playoff for the 1992 Irish Open at Killarney. He lived in Celbridge, Co Kildare, for nine years, where he set up the Wayne Westner Golf Academy. Some 1,100 students received lessons there.

In an interview in December 2015, Westner spoke about his time in Ireland and said he still had friends there.

Decision to return

“I was in Celbridge for about nine years and came home in 2006,” he said. “Unfortunately, I separated from my ex-wife and I missed my son so much because he was only coming back on holiday. So I made the decision to go back home and it’s great.

“I loved my time in Ireland. I was very happy there, met some wonderful people and still have some great friends there.”

Westner was born in Johannesburg and began playing golf in 1971. He won a number of amateur events before turning professional in 1983. He won 14 tournaments throughout his career and represented South Africa seven times.

Among his wins were two European Tour events, as well as the 1996 World Cup of Golf with Ernie Els.

On Twitter on Wednesday, Els said: “Sad day, our friend Wayne Westner passed today. Great memories thank you my friend.”

Westner was forced to retire from golf due to injury in 1998. He tore ankle ligaments in a fall of more than six feet when a railway sleeper crumbled under him as he played in the Madeira Islands Open.

At one point, Westner was ranked 40th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

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