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Ken Borland

Joburg Open to stand alone in Randpark biosecure commune 0

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Ken

The Joburg Open will return to being a standalone co-sanctioned tournament with the European Tour and will be held in a biosecure commune at Randpark Golf Club from November 19-22, the Sunshine Tour and the City of Joburg announced on Tuesday.

The Joburg Open was founded in 2007 and had one of the larger fields on the European Tour schedule, but in 2018 it was ‘nicked’ by the South African Open, with the two tournaments amalgamating into a 240-man mega-event hosted by Randpark’s two courses – Firethorn and Bushwillow. But now the events have been split again, with the SA Open due to be played after the Joburg Open, with Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt confirming it would not be held in Johannesburg this summer.

“The Joburg Open will have a field of 156 professionals, split between the Sunshine Tour and 70 from the European Tour, with everyone in a biobubble; golfers, caddies and essential staff will all be put in various local hotels and once in the bubble they cannot leave. They will have breakfast, lunch and dinner within the bubble. And they will be tested.

“They will be allowed to practise outside the bubble and there will be a pro-am, but all participants will need a negative Covid test before playing. There will be no spectators at the Joburg Open, but there will be a VIP facility in the Randpark clubhouse, which will be outside the bubble. These are some of the extensive safety measures in place, which includes isolation centres,” Abt said at Randpark on Tuesday.

The Joburg Open will be held the week after the Masters, but Abt is still hopeful that they will be able to get a top-class field for the co-sanctioned event.

“It’s impossible to know now what sort of regulations will be in place at the time of hosting the event, and we don’t have confirmation yet of which overseas players will be coming, but the European Tour have to fill those 70 spots and we have sent out a letter to our international golfing superstars requesting their support. There are no quarantine regulations in place, if a player has a Covid business visa and a negative test then he can arrive on the Monday and be in the tournament,” Abt said.

Hosting such an ambitious, massive event in this time of pandemic-induced change will put the tournament under the glare of public scrutiny, but City of Joburg executive mayor Geoffrey Makhubo stressed the benefits of putting on the tournament, which has prizemoney of R19.5 million, R2 million more than the SA Open held in January at the same venue.

“By separating this event from the SA Open, we will be able to promote the City of Joburg and mark our readiness to be open for tourism and business. Plus there are the potential new jobs the tournament will create. We recognise that Covid-19 is still a threat, but hosting the Joburg Open is an excellent opportunity to start returning to life as normal and golf has the green light from government.

“We want to save lives as well as livelihoods and the importance of golf to the tourism industry cannot be overstated. The tournament will also be staged in honour of struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, who played in various Joburg Open pro-ams and attended as a guest several times. It is the first tournament we will host since he passed on,” Makhubo said.

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