A number of golfers from the UK and Ireland have withdrawn from the Joburg Open ahead of new COVID-19 mitigation measures coming into effect.
More than a dozen players have pulled out of the tournament – the first event of the new DP World Tour season – after South Africa was added to the UK government’s ‘red list’.
This follows the discovery of a new “very heavily mutated” COVID-19 variant in the southern parts of the African continent. The B.1.1.529 strain has caused significant concern, with some health experts labelling it the “worst [variant] we’ve seen so far”.
In a bid to contain the spread, flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday on Friday, with all six countries will be added to the red list.
Anyone arriving in the UK after 4am on Saturday, meanwhile, will need to stay at a managed quarantine hotel.
Scotland’s Craig Howie, Richie Ramsay and Liam Johnston are amongst those to have withdrawn ahead of today’s second round, along with Wales’ Oliver Farr, Cormac Sharvin from Northern Ireland, and Irish duo Niall Kearney and Paul Dunne.
Graeme Storm, Steven Brown and Richard McEvoy, as well as fellow English golfers Matthew Jordan, Matt Ford and Andrew Wilson have also pulled out.
Of those, only Kearney (-1) and Farr (-3) were under-par heading into the second day.
Oliver Fisher and Jonathan Caldwell had both withdrawn during their opening rounds, although it is unclear what part – if any – the incoming restrictions played in that decision.
Several UK-based golfers have elected to play on, including David Drysdale, Ross Fisher and Oliver Wilson.