Former PGA champion Steve Elkington withdrew from the 81st PGA Championship Thursday afternoon when his caddie Joe "Gypsy" Grillo was taken to Glen Oaks Hospital with possible heart problems.
Elkington had just pulled into the player parking lot at Medinah Country Club when he saw Grillo, who complained of shortness of breath and was dizzy, being taken by paramedics down a sidewalk adjacent to lot on a gurney.
Grillo stopped and tried to convince Elkington to grab another caddie and play and stood by when paramedics took Grillo to the hospital. After about 45 minutes and no word from the hospital, Elkington withdrew and drove to the medical center.
"There was no other decision," Elkington said. "It was the only one I could make."
Elkington, who won the 1995 PGA , said Grillo is scheduled to undergo further tests this afternoon to determine whether or not he does have a heart problem. He also said doctors plan to keep him overnight and do a stress test Friday.
Grillo has worked for Elkington for the past few years, but the two have been good friends for 13 years. Grillo is so close he even babysits at times for Elkington's children, Annie and Sam. It was Grillo who convinced Elkington to go to the hospital and withdraw from the Shell Houston Open earlier this year when Elkington had a recurrance of viral meningitis.
Elkington was visibly shaken when he left the course, as were Greg Norman and his caddie Tony Navarro, both of whom were told of the incident when they finished the first round. Norman joined Elkington at the hospital later.
"We're a family out here," Norman said. "We're all close to our caddies. Outside of our wives, they're the people we spend the most time with. The association is tight. I'd withdraw, too, if something happened to Tony. I wouldn't hesitate. That's respect. You couldn't play and concentrate anyway. "
"Gypsy's a great guy. He and Tony and I are very close. I hope everything will be okay."
According to Scott Jones, who caddies for his brother Steve, Grillo was in the caddy area near the clubhouse waiting for Elkington when he complained of being hot and out of breath. "We asked if he was alright and he said he was burning up and didn't feel well," Jones said. "He has had some asthma problems and used his (inhaler)."
"He tried to stand up and was wobbly, so we called the paramedics."
Dave Novotny, a paramedic with Superior Ambulance Service, treated Grillo at the course and transported him to the hospital. He said he was having some chest pains, but was stable.
"He keep telling me to call (Elkington) and tel him, 'Play slow, play good."
Elkington was replaced in the field by Bob Friend.
This is the second straight PGA Tour event in Chicago in which a caddie has had heart problems. At the Western Open last month, caddie Garland Dempsey's heart stopped and he collapsed while walking off the 15th tee during the third rond. Paramedics had to use a defibrillator to restart his heart.
Frankie Minoza of the Philippines also withdrew Thursday morning due to a sprained knee he suffered earlier in the week.
Minoza's spot was taken by alternate Jerry Kelly of Hobe Sound, Fla.