21 European players withdraw from Joburg Open due to UK travel restrictions
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Johannesburg — The Sunshine Tour on Friday was hit hard by the new United Kingdom travel restrictions due to the new Covid-19 variant detected in Southern Africa, as 21 players withdrew from the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.
The UK instituted a travel ban of flights coming in from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini and Zimbabwe from 12 noon on Friday.
News of the imminent travel ban came after the first round was still in progress on Thursday, and the European players were left with no choice but to try and return home as soon as possible.
Sunshine Tour tournament director Ludwick Manyama said: “The European players have withdrawn to avoid a quarantine situation.”
One Dane, one Welshman, one German, one Spaniard, two Irishmen, two Northern Irishmen, three Scotsmen, and 10 Englishmen withdrew overnight.
Later on Friday, the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour (formerly known as the European Tour) announced that the SA Open next week will no longer be co-sanctioned, while the Alfred Dunhill Championship in two weeks will be scrapped altogether.
The Sunshine Tour said in a statement: “As a result of the country being placed on the travel red list of several countries following concerns around a new Covid-19 variant, and the effect this will have on the participation of professional golfers.
The Joburg Open, currently being played at Randpark Golf Club, will go ahead as planned and will finish on Sunday as scheduled as a full co-sanctioned tournament between the two tours.
The South African Open Championship, set to be played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from December 2 to 5, will also still be played as scheduled. However, it will go ahead as a solely Sunshine Tour event with a prize fund of US$500 000.
The Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was scheduled to be played at Leopard Creek Country Club from December 9 to 12, has after lengthy consultations with Alfred Dunhill has been cancelled due to the adverse effect the travel restrictions will have on the field.
African News Agency (ANA)