Joburg Open: Covid variant causes withdrawals and DP World Tour schedule change

South Africa being placed on the travel red list has caused the cancellation of the next two planned events.

This week's Joburg Open will be the last event of the year on the new DP World Tour - formerly European Tour - schedule after a new Covid scare caused major disruptions.

The tournament was scheduled to be part of a three-week South African swing but that all changed on Friday when South Africa was added to the UK government's travel red list due to concerns over a fresh variant.

That prompted a flood of withdrawals in Joburg as UK-based players rushed to catch flights home.

Englishmen Oliver Fisher, Steven Brown, Richard McEvoy, Matthew Jordan, Andrew Wilson, Matt Ford and Graeme Storm all pulled out before the second round.

So did Scottish stars Richie Ramsay, Liam Johnston and Craig Howie, Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin and Welshman Oliver Farr.

Later, it was also announced that the tournament was reduced to 54 holes.

In addition, the next two events - the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship - have been removed from the schedule.

The DP World Tour and local South African Sunshine Tour broke the news in a joint statement.

"The Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour today announced changes to the current Summer Swing of co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa 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 2-5 December, 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 9-12 December, has after lengthy consultations with Alfred Dunhill, unfortunately been cancelled due to the adverse effect the travel restrictions will have on the field."

The DP Tour will resume in 2022 when Tyrrell Hatton defends the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship from January 21-24.

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