SANYA, China—Malaysian professional golfer Arie Irawan died Sunday morning at his hotel with early indications his death was from natural causes. The coroner has not completed his report.
Irawan was here competing in PGA TOUR Series-China’s Sanya Championship, where he missed the 36-hole cut but had remained on-site.
Irawan was staying at the Sheraton Sanya Resort across the street from Yalong Bay Golf Club, site of this week’s tournament. His roommate, American Kevin Techakanokboon, who had already awoken and was getting ready for his final round, noticed Irawan was unresponsive in his bed. Techakanokboon called fellow player Gunn Charoenkul, who came to the room. American player Shotaro Ban also arrived and immediately began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while Charonekul’s wife, Vichuda, fluent in Mandarin, called local emergency services. After 45 minutes of continued revival efforts, medical personnel pronounced the 28-year-old dead.
“This is just a terrible tragedy that affects all of us who are part of a very tight-knit family here in China” said Greg Carlson, PGA TOUR Series-China Executive Director. “Arie played with us in 2018, his first full year on our Tour, and I know he was excited about this season as he continued his professional golf pursuits. We are incredibly saddened by this news, and we extend our sincere condolences to his wife and family.”
Irawan was close with Techakanokboon, the two often rooming together. After missing the cut at the 2018 Zhuhai Championship, Irawan volunteered to serve as Techakanokboon’s caddie on the weekend, helping lead Techakanokboon to his first PGA TOUR Series-China victory. Following the win, Techakanokboon credited Irawan for steadying him and assisting him during the triumph.
“He was just an incredibly popular player, well-liked by fellow players and staff,” Carlson continued. “The fact he would caddie for his friend like he did in Zhuhai typifies the kind of guy Arie was. His smile brightened whatever room he was in, and everybody liked being around him. This is a significant loss for so many of us and for our Tour.”
Irawan, a native of Kuala Lumpur, made his PGA TOUR Series-China debut in 2016, at the Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong. A year ago, he played his first full season, appearing in 10 tournaments and recording one top-10 finish, a tie for fourth at the Guilin Championship. He earned full 2019 status by finishing inside the top 50 on the 2018 Order of Merit. He had missed the cut at the season-opening Chongqing Championship prior to missing the cut this week.
As a teenager, Irawan left Malaysia to attend the University of Tulsa on a golf scholarship, in 2008. He played all four years for the Golden Hurricane, was a member of the Conference USA All-Freshman team and was an Academic All-American during the 2010-11 school year. He graduated with a degree in management information systems.
Irawan turned pro in 2013 and returned to Asia to pursue a professional golf career. He played events on the Asian Tour, the Asian Developmental Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia as well as PGA TOUR Series-China during his seven-year career, winning two Asian Developmental Tour events.
Irawan is survived by his wife, Marina, his parents, Ahmad and Jeny, and his sister, Wan Edna. Memorial services are pending.