New Covid Variant Causes Joburg Open Chaos

Nightmare start for DP World Tour as South African Covid variant causes mass player withdrawal

Oliver Farr plays a shot during the Joburg Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The DP World Tour has been impacted by the new Covid variant and subsequent travel restrictions during the first tournament of the three week South African swing, where a number of UK-based players have withdrawn after round one.

Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary, confirmed that from midday on Friday six countries have been added to the red list, including South Africa where the Joburg Open is taking place.

Travellers arriving in England from the six countries will have to quarantine amid warnings of a new Covid variant.

Flights to the six countries are suspended and non-UK and Irish residents will be banned from entering England if they have visited the effected countries in the past ten days.

Any British or Irish resident arriving from the countries after Sunday will be forced to quarantine in a hotel, with those returning prior being instructed to isolate at home.

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A total of 59 cases have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. None are yet to be identified in the UK.

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser, said the new variant was the “most complex and the most worrying that we have seen”

Joburg Open leaderboard pictured

A number of players withdrew after round one

(Image credit: DP World Tour)

Whilst the new Covid variant is set to cause havoc across the world, its impacts are already being felt on the DP World Tour, which is hosting its first event since its sensational rebrand from the European Tour.

As news of the variant broke, fifteen players withdrew from the Joburg Open. 

Englishmen Oliver Fisher, Graeme Storm, Richard McEvoy, Andrew Wilson, Steven Brown, Matt Ford and Matthew Jordan joined Scots, Richie Ramsay, Liam Johnston and Craig Howie in withdrawing as the news broke. 

Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin also withdrew alongside Welshman, Oliver Farr and the Irish pair of Paul Dunne and Niall Kearney. 

Only Farr (68) and Kearney (70) had posted under par scores in round one.

The timing couldn’t be worse as the Joburg Open marked the first of a three week swing in South Africa. The SA Open Championship and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship are scheduled to go ahead in the next couple of weeks but in light of the travel restrictions, player withdrawals are to be expected. 

The Joburg Open lifted the curtain on the DP World Tour and also marked the beginning of the Open Qualifying Series, where the leading three non-exempt players inside the top ten secure their place at the Home of Golf next year. 

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James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.