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Arie Irawan: ‘He Meant so Much to so Many’

April 20, 2019 Golf Tourism No Comments Email Email

Last year, Malaysian Arie Irawan, and his caddie and wife of three weeks, the former Marina Malek, travelled to Guilin for an event on the PGA Tour Series-China. Arie played well and was in contention, eventually finishing in a tie for fourth.

Although Marina knew very little about golf, she was ready for the challenge of caddying. She loved who she was working for that week and her ‘boss’ was more than happy with her performance.

“I’m so lucky I have my wife here this week,” Arie said following his first round. “This is the first time Marina is travelling and caddying for me. She’s also taking care of the food, so that makes it easy. It helps a lot having her out there. It just makes me more calm. That’s why I didn’t make any bogeys today. She makes me happy.”

That joy turned to sadness in a stunning way on Sunday morning in Sanya. Arie died in his sleep in his hotel room. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. He was 28.

Arie was there for the Sanya Championship, the second event of the PGA Tour Series-China season. Marina was home in Malaysia. Arie had missed the cut a week earlier in Chongqing and didn’t play well in Sanya, not qualifying for weekend play again. But since he was already in the resort city bordering the South China Sea, Arie elected to stay on site in a hotel room he was sharing with fellow player Kevin Techakanokboon. His plan was to then travel to Haikou, about a 90-minute train ride on the north side of Hainan Island, for this week’s Haikou Championship.

News of his death stunned everybody who knew Arie, an international player who travelled all over the world playing golf. Out of deference and respect, Tour officials delayed the start of the Sanya Championship final round and then ultimately cancelled it after announcing Arie’s death.

“In the times I was with him or just around him, there was always a smile on his face – whether it was playing golf, him working out or just hanging out with friends. He always had a smile,” said Shotaro Ban, a Series member who was summoned to the scene early on Sunday morning and performed CPR on Arie before emergency personnel arrived. “I think anyone who met him or knew him realised he was an extremely genuine person. He didn’t have that much to say, but he had a great heart, and his wife is just like him. Arie exemplified what it means to be a professional golfer, a husband and a friend in the true nature. I’m just devastated by this loss.”

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