KLM open: Panic as Fabrizio Zanotti hit on head

The 31-year-old Paraguayan was hospitalised in the Netherlands yesterday after being struck on the head by the tee shot of Alexandre Kaleka

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The Independent Online

The next time you see Fabrizio Zanotti on a golf course he might be wearing a crash helmet. The 31-year-old Paraguayan was hospitalised in the Netherlands yesterday after being struck on the head by the tee shot of Alexandre Kaleka at the KLM Open in Zandvoort.

Zanotti was walking down the 16th fairway minding his own business as the Frenchman teed off at the adjacent 14th. The ball hooked left, poleaxing the unsuspecting Zanotti with a blow to the forehead and throwing the tournament into a panic.

Play was stopped for almost two hours as doctors attended the stricken golfer, who was taken from the course by ambulance for tests.

It is understood that he remained conscious throughout the ordeal but the situation was serious enough for fellow players Felipe Aguilar and Ricardo Gonzalez to accompany their friend to the hospital, where neurological scans later came back clear.

Zanotti, the first Paraguayan to win on the European Tour at the BMW International Open in June, will take no further part in the tournament. Aguilar and Gonzalez also withdrew to remain by Zanotti’s side. “Thanks a lot for the messages, I have been discharged from the hospital. Now I will have to take a couple of weeks off,” Zanotti wrote on Twitter.

Kaleka recovered from the shock to make par at the 14th on the resumption and a birdie at the par-three 15th en route to a two-over -par 72.

Defending champion and Dutch poster boy Joost Luiten leads on home turf after an opening 65. Luiten had struggled to make inroads before the unfortunate felling of Zanotti, carding 11 successive pars before the hiatus. Then he recorded three birdies and an eagle on the way home.

South Korea’s dominance of the women’s game was evident at the Evian Championship, where 19-year-old Kim Hyo-joo fired 10 birdies for a 61, the lowest score by a woman in a major tournament. She leads Karrie Webb in second by four and fellow Korean Hur Mi-jung in third by five.

England’s 18-year-old supernova Charlie Hull made a level-par 71, alongside veteran Laura Davies.

Rory McIlroy, who teed off in the penultimate group with Billy Horschel at the FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta, took to Twitter to qualify his previous comments about the ageing and absent Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

“Got a question about Tiger and Phil. Gave an honest answer, was very complimentary about the two best golfers of this generation,” he said. “Golfers on average have a 20-25 year career, both into the back nine of their careers. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that.”

McIlroy is news. Like any powerful figure he is vulnerable to comments acquiring a meaning he did not intend. In his last tournament before the Ryder Cup McIlroy hopes to let his clubs speak for him. There is no blurring the message they dictate.

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