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How Did Arie Irawan Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of The Malaysian Golfer At 28

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How Did Arie Irawan Die? New Details About The Tragic Death Of The Malaysian Golfer At 28

The international sports community was sent reeling when, on April 7, 2019, Arie Irawan died suddenly.

Irawan was only 28 years old. How did Arie Irawan die?

Arie Irawan is survived by his wife, Marina. 

In a relatively short period of time, Arie Irawan had become nothing short of a golf sensation. He’d earned the respect, the friendship, and the love of many of his peers who took to the press almost immediately after news of his death hit the newswires.

One such peer was Kevin Techakanokboon, a fellow professional golfer. Techakanokboon, who won his first professional tournament at the 2018 Zhuhai Championship with Arie Irawan as his caddie, told the PGA Tour’s official website that he was experiencing a “flood of emotions” in the wake of his old friend’s death.

“Everybody was touched by the guy in some way, and everybody has Arie stories to tell. Today, you talk to people from any of the Tours he played on who knew him well and they will all tell you — every one of them — he was not just another face on the Tour,” he said.

So how did Arie Irawan die? Here’s what we know.

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1. He died in China.


The wait is ALMOST over. 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on Apr 10, 2019 at 6:24pm PDT

The professional golf community is in shock over his sudden death. 

The initial announcement of Irawan’s death came from the Official PGA Tour site, who first announced that the professional golfer died in China. He was in China for the PGA TOUR Series-China’s Sanya Championship, but he’d missed the 36-hole cut. Nevertheless, he remained in China, where he stayed at the luxurious Sheraton Sanya Resort across from the site of the tournament. “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.

2. His friends tried to revive him.

Kevin Techakanokboon was rooming with Irawan in the resort, according to People Magazine. When he woke up that morning, he found Arie Irawan unresponsive in his bed, and immediately panicked. That’s when Shotaro Ban, another American player, came into the room and tried to revive him. A third player’s wife, who is fluent in Mandarin, called the emergency services on Irawan’s behalf. However, all of their efforts were in vain, because by the time the emergency services arrived on-site, Irawan was unable to be saved.

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3. He was a rising star in the league.

Irawan had only been playing golf professionally since 2013. But in a very short period of time, he’d achieved so much. In 2015, he earned his tour card after he placed sixth in the Asian Development Tour's Order of Merit the previous year. That same year, he won his first professional title at the PGM Maybank Players’ Championship. For his win, he took home RM350,000 (or, about $85,000 USD). He won the same championship again in 2017 and placed in various competitions throughout the greater Asian tournaments, according to ParGolf.

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4. The initial cause of death was listed as “natural causes.”


Arie, I never got around to saying it, but thank you. Thank you for being such an amazing friend. Thank you for always listening. And thank you for always helping me be the best man that I can be; on and off the course. From my rookie year on the Asian Tour to my first professional win, you were right there with me. No matter how tough times got, you never stopped grinding. You taught me what being a professional truly means. I’m going to miss traveling to different places with you. I’ll miss all of the long talks we‘d have at night in our hotel room about golf, life, and whatever else was on our minds. And I’ll definitely miss kicking your butt in FIFA after a long day on the course. Our golf community has lost a great man and an even better friend. And I’m sure I speak for everyone who’s had the pleasure to have known you when I say that we were all incredibly lucky to have you in our lives. You’ve left a mark in my life and I’ll always look back on the times we’ve shared with a smile on my face. Keep an eye out for us from up there and we’ll keep on doing our best down here. I miss you, Papi. Rest In Peace.

A post shared by Kevin "Tech" Techakanokboon (@teckaboon) on Apr 7, 2019 at 12:46pm PDT

Ari Irawan's death was a devastating loss to his friends and family. 

According to The Straits Times, a publication based in Singapore, Ari Irawan died of “natural causes, in his sleep, with no toxins in his system.” These conclusions were reached after a thorough investigation conducted by the Chinese coroners. The coroner’s report was made public on the same day that a memorial service was held in his honor, which his family including his parents, his sister, and his widow  attended.

5. Could there be more to the story?

An official autopsy was not conducted due to his strict Muslim beliefs. 

Though the official cause of death for Ari Irawan was listed as natural causes, there are a few things that give cause for pause. For example, according to The Straits Times, though a toxicology report was conducted on the body, which “came back clean,” according to the official report, there was no autopsy done on the body. This lack of an autopsy, while strange on the surface, was in accordance with Irawan’s Muslim beliefs.

But there are other questions that, of course, arise. “Natural causes” is something that’s normally reserved for people of an advanced age — not a 28-year-old otherwise-patently healthy athlete. While it’s definitely true that a drug and/or alcohol overdose wasn’t the cause of death, there could have been other mitigating factors that contributed to Ari Irawan’s unfortunate passing. Did he suffer a heart attack? Perhaps a stroke? Could foul play be a factor? Without a proper autopsy, we will never really know the answer to that question.

Regardless of how or why he died, the fact is Ari Irawan still died and his loss is a devastating one to the global golf community. Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this undoubtedly difficult time.

Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.