The South Africa Open is facing further disruption after four golfers tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the tournament starting on Thursday.
Darren Fichardt, an 18-time winner on the local Sunshine Tour, Teaghan Gauche, Dylan Mostert and Siyanda Mwandla are the players who have been forced to withdraw.
It comes after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in the country last week led to travel restrictions being imposed around the world, and the golf schedule being significantly affected.
Last week’s Joburg Open, the first of the new season after the European Tour rebranded to the DP World Tour, ended in chaos as news of the Omincron variant caused havoc.
More than 20 players withdrew during the first two rounds as those from the UK attempted tried to sort travel arrangements to get home before new restrictions were imposed.
That tournament was ended after 36 holes, with Thriston Lawrence awarded victory and with that a place in next summer’s Open Championship.
“It’s so surreal,” Lawrence said.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would turn out this way, to finish on a Saturday afternoon but I’m just really thankful. It’s a life-changing moment for me.”
The DP World Tour is no longer sanctioning the South Africa Open this week due to concern over the variant, meaning it is a Sunshine Tour event. As a result, the prize money has been cut by $1m.