The Joburg Open has come to a close even sooner than planned.
The DP World Tour season opener at Randburg, South Africa, was initially cut to 54 holes to allow non-South African resident players, caddies, and staff to return to their home countries as a result of international travel restrictions imposed by the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. However, severe weather, which had previously halted play earlier in the week, struck again on Saturday, reducing the event to 36 holes.
Thriston Lawrence of South Africa won by four strokes over fellow countryman Zander Lombard after opening with back-to-back 6-under 65s at Randpark Golf Club. Before further inclement weather poured in, he bogeyed his first hole of Round 3, causing scores to be reversed.
Lawrence exclaimed, “It’s so strange.” “I don’t think anyone expected it to end up this way, on a Saturday afternoon, but I’m grateful anyway. It’s a watershed point in my life. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These previous several days have seen some incredible golf.
Thunderstorms also postponed play on Thursday and Friday, and further rain on Saturday rendered areas of the course impassable.
Lawrence, an affiliate member who primarily competes on the Sunshine Tour, won the title in only his 22nd DP World Tour appearance and now has full membership on the tour until 2023. He, along with Lombard and Ashley Chesters, will be exempt from the Open Championship at St. Andrews next summer.
“I had my card on the Sunshine Tour,” Lawrence continued, “but I really wanted to move on to the next phase.” “It all happened in a flash. There are a lot of possibilities for next year. You’re confident since you know you’re on the Tour and don’t have to worry about invitations. These opportunities don’t come up very often. I’ve had four years of co-sanctioned events, so I’ve had plenty of practice, but it’s still incredible.
“It’s always been a desire of yours to see yourself up there, but the last year and a half of COVID has been difficult, so your dreams have faded. It’s incredible that it may change this week.”
The new variety will effect upcoming tour events in South Africa, and it has already prompted some players to withdraw from the Joburg Open before Saturday. The South African Open, which is set to begin next Thursday, has been reduced to an unofficial tour event, while the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which is set to take place the following week, has been canceled “due to the deleterious effect of the travel restrictions on the field.”
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