The Irish golf community was in shock on Wednesday as news filtered through of the tragic death of former Celbridge-based South African golf coach Wayne Westner.
"One of the greatest and biggest influences on my life... RIP Westy the gods have there hands full now ;) x." wrote Royal Dublin based professional Jeff Hopkins, who revamped his swing at the Wayne Westner Golf College in South Africa last year.
Similar sentiments were expressed on social media by many others in the Irish golf community who had worked with or been coached by the former Irish Open runner up.
Former East of Ireland champion Richard O'Donovan was also a student of Westner, who is believed to have committed suicide.
According to local media reports, 55-year old Westner "forced his way" into his own home on the KwaZulu- Natal south coast and shot himself in front of his wife.
KwaZulu-Natal police confirmed that Westner died due to a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. Officers said it appeared that the couple were separated.
According a police spokesman, they received a call of a hostage situation at the home whereWestner's wife and children had apparently locked themselves in a bathroom.
A police spokesman said: “He allegedly wanted to see his wife and thereafter he allegedly shot himself. The firearm used in the commission of the crime was seized by the police. The motive for the killing is still unknown at this stage and we are investigating."
Westner, 55, was a two-time European Tour winner, claiming the 1993 Dubai Desert Classic and the 1996 FNB Players Championship.
He also had two South African Open victories among his 11 Sunshine Tour titles.
In 1996, he partnered Ernie Els at the World Cup of Golf, where the duo won by a record 18 shots over a U.S. team of Tom Lehman and Steve Jones.
Sad day, our friend Wayne Westner passed today. Great memories thank you my friend.— Ernie Els (@TheBig_Easy) January 4, 2017
Westner ran the Wayne Westner Golf Acacemy in Celbridge, teaching over 1,000 students before his marriage broke up.
He eventually returned to South Africa, as he told Irish Golf Desk last year when he was preparing to start promoting a new swing aid he had invented called the Instant Golfer.
"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."
His Instant Golfer appears to have been a success and he was back in Ireland before Christmas working with clients and potential agents.
Really saddened by the news of Wayne Westner. My thoughts go out to those left behind. Hopefully you have found your peace.— Thomas Bjørn (@thomasbjorngolf) January 4, 2017
Vivienne, my family & I are saddened by the news of the tragic passing of Wayne Westner & send condolences to all his family & friends. RIP— Gary Player (@garyplayer) January 4, 2017
So shocked to hear of the death of Wayne Westner, double former winner of SA Open and winner of Dubai Desert Classic. RIP Westy.— Tony Johnstone (@TonyJohnstone56) January 4, 2017
WayneWestner;tormented golfing genius.Brilliant player with demons.Sad end for a more than decent colleague. Memories are better than finish— Ewen Murray (@ewenmurray77) January 4, 2017
So sorry to hear the sad news of the tragic death of Wayne Westner SA golfer and former Tour colleague. Will be sadly missed.— Paul Broadhurst (@pbroadhurstgolf) January 4, 2017
Shocking news today about Wayne Westner.He struck the ball like only a few could.Good luck to you. Hopefully you find peace.— anthony wall (@awallgolfer) January 4, 2017