Sixteen golfers from the United Kingdom and Ireland withdrew from the Joburg Open on Friday as strict new rules affecting travellers from South Africa came into effect.

The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa has led the UK government to implement a sudden change to its rules for arrivals, taking effect from midday on Friday.

It has declared that British nationals arriving before Sunday morning after a stay in South Africa – as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two PCR tests in that time.

All such travellers arriving in England from 04:00 GMT on Sunday will be required to go into a hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

Flights to the UK from the newly red-listed countries were being suspended.

It was no coincidence that the European Tour event in Johannesburg saw a rash of withdrawals, with players looking to get home.

Those who pulled out were England's Steven Brown, Oliver Fisher, Matt Ford, David Howell, Matthew Jordan, Richard McEvoy, Graeme Storm and Andrew Wilson, Scotland's Craig Howie, Liam Johnston and Richie Ramsay, Wales' Oliver Farr, Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin and Ireland's Paul Dunne and Niall Kearney.

Johnston posted on Twitter a version of a poster for the Meryl Streep film Out Of Africa, with his face superimposed in place of Robert Redford's. Sharvin replied: "Too good."

UK health secretary Sajid Javid said of the new measures: "We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely."

Collin Morikawa became the first American to win the Race to Dubai after clinching the DP World Tour Championship title on Sunday.

The 24-year-old entered this week's season finale knowing there were five challengers who could pip him to the European number one crown, although he teed off on Sunday with a three-shot advantage over his nearest rivals.

Morikawa showed few nerves as he produced his best round of the tournament, carding a 66 to finish three strokes ahead of Alexander Bjork and Matt Fitzpatrick at 17 under par.

It capped a memorable 2021 for Morikawa, who has won three titles this year, including the Open Championship in July, having only made his professional debut in August 2019.

"It's special, it's an honour, really, to be the first American to do that on the European Tour to put my name against many, many great Hall of Famers, it's special," he said.

"Two years ago, it wasn't in my thoughts. It was, 'yeah, let's go play around the world' but we didn't know what the cards were going to be dealt.

"To have this chance and finally close it out, and not just closing it out with a top 10 or something, but to actually win the DP World Tour Championship, which concluded with the Race to Dubai, not a better way to finish – what a great way to finish.

"To close out the season-long race, the Race to Dubai, it means everything. Obviously, I won some big events and that obviously helped catapult me up to the top."

Rory McIlroy, who led after the first day at Jumeirah Golf Estates, finished in a tie for sixth with Dean Burmester and Ian Poulter after a final round of 74 left him at 12 under.

The best performance of the day belonged to Bernd Wiesberger, who carded a brilliant 63 to finish on two over after only managing 76, 76 and 75 in the first three rounds.

Rory McIlroy got himself back into the lead at the DP World Tour Championship, holding a slender one-shot advantage heading into the final round of the season.

McIlroy, a three-time European Tour champion, dropped two shots on the 18th on Friday, handing a share of the lead to Sam Horsfield, Shane Lowry and John Catlin in Dubai.

Yet Lowry and Catlin both struck costly one-under par 71s on Saturday, with McIlroy going round in 67 to propel himself back in front.

The Northern Irishman stands on 14 under, though had a wobble on the 17th when he almost found the water. Luck was on his side as the ball nestled on a rock on the water's edge.

McIlory bravely decided to take the shot on, despite the risk the ball could have ricocheted back into the wet. It paid off, with the former world number one getting it across the green and then almost chipping in to make par, but he had to settle for a bogey, his second of the day after an awful tee shot on the opening hole.

He got that shot back with a birdie on the last to put the pressure on Horsfield, who could only bogey to finish on 67 and 13 under for the week heading into what looks set to be an enthralling final day.

"I thought I did well considering the start," said McIlroy, who is hunting his third DP World Tour Championship title.

"I responded well with birdies on two and three, ended up turning on three-under par. The back nine was good, gave myself good chances on 14 and 16 but didn't convert those.

"A bogey on 17 that in the end was a good bogey, I just thought it was important to make birdie at the last to get into the final group."

Robert MacIntyre was the big riser, the Scot going around in five under to take a share of third place with Alexander Bjork. 

MacIntyre's round included a 70-foot birdie and 20-foot eagle on the front nine, while he then birdied four holes out of five only to slip up with a bogey on the 18th.

Level at T5 and within three of the lead with Lowry, Catlin and Joachim Hansen is Collin Morikawa, who still holds a lead in the Race to Dubai rankings.

The 24-year-old - who is aiming to become the first American to win the European Tour – carded a bogey free 69, though will be disappointed to only birdie three holes.

Given none of the other contenders in the Race to Dubai are within six shots of the lead, Morikawa seems all set to be crowned European Tour champion, barring a collapse on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy surrendered a two-shot lead at the DP World Tour Championship, with Shane Lowry one of those to rein him in as Collin Morikawa kept himself at the top of the Race to Dubai standings.

Three-time Race to Dubai winner McIlroy carded a brilliant 65 on Thursday, but he found the water on the last and his double bogey meant he recorded a two-under par 70, giving up the lead heading into the weekend at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the process.

Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, overtook McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65, with American John Catlin left to lament a bogey on the third that ultimately cost him the lead. The duo are joined on 10 under by Sam Horsfield, who followed up Thursday's 68 by going around in 66.

Horsfield had to recover from dropping shots on the 16th and 17th, with a thumping, 369-yard drive setting him up nicely to birdie on the last and take a share of the lead.

"It's two more days left and then the end of a long year-and-a-half, I suppose, long couple of years," said Lowry. 

"I'm looking forward to giving everything and leaving it on the course this weekend and hopefully I'm there near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon."

Meanwhile, history hunting Morikawa kept himself in contention with a second straight score of 68 and sits level on eight-under with Martin Kaymer, one shot adrift of McIlroy and Alexander Bjork, whose sole victory on the European Tour came at the 2018 China Open.

The American currently holds the lead in the Race to Dubai by three shots. If he can hold onto his advantage, he will be the first American to be crowned European Tour champion.

In Morikawa's opinion, however, the best form of defence is attack, as he looks to seal his place in the record books by clinching victory in the United Arab Emirates.

"I'm aware but I've got to focus on the weekend," The Open winner said. "I want to win this tournament. That's all I care about, winning this tournament and everything else will kind of settle itself. 

"That's my focus. We've played a decent two days and we've got two more rounds to go."

Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Tour in 2017, endured a frustrating day as he went round level par, leaving him tied with six others, including Ian Poulter, on two under.

Rory McIlroy leads the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after the opening round, but Race to Dubai frontrunner Collin Morikawa was Thursday's big winner.

A seven-under 65 gave McIlroy a two-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Tapio Pulkkanen, Joachim B. Hansen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a three-way tie behind him.

McIlroy, whose 14th and most recent European Tour win came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019, made a flying birdie-eagle start and only dropped a single shot all day at the ninth.

After turning in 31, the Northern Irishman protected his day-one advantage over a steady back nine.

McIlroy, who beat Morikawa at the CJ Cup last month, believes he has "got [his] golf game back" since contributing only a single point to Europe's Ryder Cup defeat.

"I'm just excited for the road ahead, because I feel like I'm on the right path," he said.

But the main focus this week is on the Race to Dubai, in which McIlroy is 20th and out of the running.

First-placed Morikawa has competition chiefly from fellow American Billy Horschel this week following Jon Rahm's withdrawal, although four other players could also yet scoop the seasonal title with 2,000 points on the line in Dubai.

Of the six contenders, Morikawa is best placed heading into Friday after his four-under 68 secured a share of fifth.

Crucially, Horschel endured a difficult start as three bogeys across four holes on the back nine set him back and he carded a two-over 74 – a hugely damaging deficit given his need to outperform Morikawa.

Rounds of 70 for Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey kept the English trio in the mix, although each need to win and see Morikawa struggle. Min Woo Lee, the sixth man in contention, has work to do from even par.

Collin Morikawa has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour ahead of this week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Morikawa becomes only the fifth American to be given the accolade after Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Patrick Reed.

The 24-year-old has been given the honour in recognition of his debut victory at The Open at Royal St Georges in July.

His two-shot victory over Jordan Spieth at Sandwich was the second time he had won a Major Championship on debut after also lifting the 2020 US PGA Championship in San Francisco.

Morikawa told the European Tour's official website: "Two and a half years ago when I turned pro, I had no clue what life was going to put in front of me, but I'm very thankful for what I've been able to accomplish.

"We want to grow the game as much as we can, and this is an important piece of that. So I'm going to honour this and this is going to be very special and it is definitely a top highlight so far since turning pro, so thank you."

Morikawa goes into the season finale as leader of the European Tour's Race to Dubai, and is hoping to become the first American to win it.

There will be no Race to Dubai triumph for Jon Rahm after the world number one withdrew from the DP World Tour Championship.

Rahm is third in the battle to be crowned European number one, but has opted against travelling to Dubai for the season-ending event at Jumeirah Golf Estates next week.

The Spaniard won the Race to Dubai in 2019 and has been victorious in the DP World Tour Championship twice, but there will be no repeat next Sunday.

Collin Morikawa leads the Race to Dubai standings ahead of fellow American Billy Horschel ahead of the finale in the United Arab Emirates.

Rahm said: "After lengthy discussions with my team, I have come to the difficult decision not to travel to Dubai next week.

"The demands of a long season with many ups and downs has taken a lot out of me. I feel I need to take time to recharge my batteries while spending quality time with my family.

"I would like to take this opportunity to wish DP World and the European Tour all the best for the season-ending event, which is always such a special tournament.

"I would also like to reiterate my congratulations to both for the announcement of the DP World Tour [the rebranded European Tour] earlier this week, and I look forward very much to competing on the DP World Tour next year."

Rahm claimed his maiden major title at the U.S. Open this year.

Rory McIlroy has opted to work solely with long-time coach Michael Bannon once again after splitting with Pete Cowen.

McIlroy turned to swing guru and straight-talking Englishman Cowen eight months ago as he strived to return to the peak of his powers.

The four-time major champion ended an 18-month trophy drought when he won the Wells Fargo Championship in May and claimed his 20th PGA Tour title with a CJ Cup triumph last month.

McIlroy has now decided to only work with Bannon, who first coached his fellow Northern Irishman at the age of eight.

"Michael and I are back working together," McIlroy told Golfweek.

"I've always had a relationship with Pete and I'll ask for his input if I need it. But now it's Michael and me."

McIlroy had stated after his CJ Cup triumph: "There was a lot of reflection the last couple weeks and this is what I need to do.

"I just need to play golf, I need to simplify it, I need to just be me. For the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try to get better and I sort of realised that being me is enough and being me, I can do things like this."

The European Tour will become the DP World Tour from the start of the 2022 season in what has been described as a "ground-breaking evolution."

Prize money will increase to over $200million for the first time, with a new minimum prize fund of $2m for all tournaments solely sanctioned by the DP World Tour.

There will be 47 tournaments in 27 different countries, including new events in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Africa and Belgium, along with an expanded Rolex Series comprising of five events.

The Abu Dhabi Championship, the Dubai Desert Classic, the Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship will be the Rolex Series events.

The Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship in the United States and the Scottish Open will be co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour.

The Joburg Open will be the opening event of the DP World Tour from November 22-25.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour group, said: "Today’s announcement is undoubtedly a momentous one in the proud history of our Tour. The launch of the DP World Tour in 2022, coinciding with both of our 50th anniversaries, will herald a new era in global golf, and crucially it will benefit everybody involved – all our players, caddies, fans and partners – as well as making an important contribution to wider society.

"The entire ecosystem of our Tour will be strengthened because of this hugely significant deal, and that was essential to us and to DP World, who have been an incredible supporter of our Tour as well as golf more widely, from grassroots through to the elite professional game.

"The DP World Tour is, therefore, a natural evolution of our decade-long partnership, and the presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflects our global reach."

Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA TOUR and board member of the European Tour, added: "Thanks to the support of long-standing partner DP World, today's announcement significantly elevates the European Tour on a global basis.

"We are excited for the continued growth and evolution of the European Tour, as well as the momentum this provides toward our Strategic Alliance. I've said before that our respective Tours are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we ever have at any point in our existence, and today's announcement is another point of proof in those efforts."

Thomas Pieters claimed a fifth European Tour win in Algarve after carding a fourth-round score of 68 to top the final leaderboard at the 2021 Portugal Masters.

Matthieu Pavon came into the final round level with Pieters but, despite a strong start, could only muster a 70 as the Belgian pipped him to the title at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.

Pavon finished 19-under to end the tournament level with Danish duo Nicolai Hojgaard and Lucas Bjerregaard, who managed an impressive 64 and 66 respectively in the final round, but could not close the gap to Pieters.

Hojgaard came close to claiming the title himself but, despite recording the lowest score of the round, fell just short with a bogey on the last hole.

Pieters, 29, will now play at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai for the seventh season in a row following his success in Portugal and is enjoying the rewards of his hard work.

"It feels amazing," Pieters said. "It felt like a long time between victories but [my caddie] Adam and I worked so hard and it felt like a deserved one.

"Two years is a long time. I’ve had a child in the meantime, who talks and runs around, it does feel like a long time.

"I was going into this week and next week with my back to the wall. I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I’ve never missed the end of the Race to Dubai and really didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t care if I finished first, second or third. I just wanted to get there, but winning is amazing."

Mallorca Open champion Jeff Winther revealed he very nearly missed his tee time on Sunday, though he did not let a bathroom fiasco prevent him from claiming a maiden European Tour title.

Overnight leader Winther carded a closing 70 to remain on 15 under-par, keeping him one shot in front of Spanish duo Pep Angles and Jorge Campillo, and Swede Sebastian Soderberg.

The 30-year-old carded two 62s over the tournament, and just did enough on his final round.

However, he was almost caught out by a bathroom-related drama, and had to rely on his young daughter to get him out of a tricky situation.

"After breakfast I went to have a shower and my wife came in to use the bathroom as well," he said. "The door closed, and there's no lock, but we locked ourselves in. There's no lock on the door but the handle didn't work.

"Our little girl Nora, six years old, had to go and find guys at reception to break down the door. We were in there for 45 minutes, I think. I thought, 'jeez not today, not Sunday, you're leading the freaking event. Might not get there for your tee time'. What a morning!

"It's not sinking in. I couldn't have a better week. I said at the start of the week that this was going to be like a holiday and apparently holidays work out for me."

While Winther celebrated his first victory on the Tour, Soderberg finished in second place for the second week running. 

Soderberg's 68 wedged him between the scores of Angles (67) and Campillo (69), with the trio sharing second place on 14 under.

The lowest score of the day was achieved by Laurie Canter, who went round in 64 to finish at 12 under alongside Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez. The Englishman has finished in the top five in three of his last four events.

Matt Fitzpatrick bounced back from Ryder Cup woe by claiming his seventh European Tour win as the Englishman took full advantage of Sebastian Soderberg's late capitulation to clinch the Andalucia Masters title.

Overnight leader Laurie Canter rarely looked as though he would get the win to secure his first €1million season, his five over par seeing him finish tied for fourth.

Soderberg looked to be the one to capitalise on Canter's fall, with the Swede playing some fine golf at times – his exceptional par save at the ninth, consisting of a wonderful chip to within a few inches of the hole, seeing him reach the turn three under for the round.

Another excellent up-and-down at 11 earned him a birdie and the lead.

Although a bogey on the 13th pegged him back, Soderberg quickly got that shot back with another birdie on 15 as he looked well-placed to go on and take the trophy.

But the timing of his costly double bogey on the 17th could not have been worse as Fitzpatrick – a hole back – simultaneously ended a streak of 15 pars with his first birdie of the day. Over the course of a single hole, Soderberg went from a two-shot lead to trailing by one.

Fitzpatrick – playing in his first tournament since making it two Ryder Cup appearances without a point – quickly turned that into a two-shot lead of his own before closing out with a par that left him at six under for the tournament, three clear of the rest of the pack.

While Fitzpatrick is by no means a stranger to successes on the Tour, victory at Valderrama was particularly special.

Asked how he felt afterwards, Fitzpatrick said: "Amazing, particularly the way I did it, staying patient all day, didn't try to press anything. We stuck to our targets and I managed to hole the putts at the end.

"It's one for the bucket list to win around Valderrama with the history it has, and doing it with a bogey-free Sunday, it's extra special, so I'm delighted.

"You can hit half decent shots and then be behind a tree, you're chipping out or you've got to manoeuvre something. It's a true test to be patient for the whole 72 holes, I'm really pleased with my attitude all week."

Soderberg ultimately finished tied for second with Min Woo Lee, while seven players were an additional shot back.

Laurie Canter powered three shots clear at the Andalucia Masters to put himself within touching distance of completing a €1million season on the European Tour.

The 31-year-old Englishman finished tied for second at the BMW PGA Championship in September, and now a maiden victory on the tour is a realistic target.

A roller coaster four-under-par 67 in the third round allowed Canter to ease clear of the field and reach seven under through 54 holes, with Matt Fitzpatrick in second place after a one-under 70.

Canter had eight birdies and four dropped shots in his round, but the score of the day was achieved by American David Lipsky, who shrugged off a bogey at the first and went on to make eight birdies on the way to a 64, seven under par.

That put Lipsky on three under overall, in third place, with organisers stating his efforts matched the lowest round in the tournament's history, previously achieved in 2017 by Daniel Brooks and in 2018 by Sergio Garcia.

Canter, who hails from Bath, will be wary of players behind him shooting such a low score on Sunday, but he will have few better chances to win a tournament.

In 2019, Canter played just five events on the tour and won a mere €11,059, but two runner-up finishes last year put him in a far healthier position with €498,991 in earnings, and now Canter is close to breaking the seven-figure mark in a season for the first time.

The €485,000 on offer to the winner at Valderrama on Sunday would send Canter soaring through that mark, and he likes the look of his cushion.

"I think what it means is I can go out tomorrow and play how I have these last couple of days," Canter said, quoted on the European Tour website.

"The score I end up on will be competitive, I think. That gives me a lot of confidence going in. The course is asking a lot of different challenges and you can’t dwell when it goes against you. I’m trying to stay as level as I can and I’m doing a good job."

Those in the five-player group on two under will remain hopeful of a Sunday surge, and among them is the halfway leader Romain Langasque. The Frenchman went backwards on Saturday after a disappointing 73, but may not be out of contention.

Alongside Langasque in a share of fourth place is Austrian Ryder Cup player Bernd Wiesberger, plus Min Woo Lee of Australia, Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg and Italy's Renato Paratore.

Romain Langasque sits top of the Andalucia Masters leaderboard heading into the weekend after a solid opening two days, while world number one Jon Rahm missed the cut.

The Real Club Valderrama lived up to its infamous reputation as an often-gruelling course a day earlier, with numerous players highlighting the difficulty posed by the windy conditions.

Few struggled like Rahm on home soil as the Spaniard carded a seven-over 78 on what was the worst European Tour round of his career, leaving him 11 shots adrift of overnight leader Julien Guerrier, who was one clear of recent Open de Espana champion Rafa Cabrera Bello on three under.

It was all change for Guerrier and Cabrera Bello on Friday, though, as they went two and three over par respectively for the round.

Rahm dropped three more shots to leave him 10 over for the tournament and heading home early.

Matt Fitzpatrick looked to have stormed to the front of the pack and held the lead before the 18th, but like Guerrier before him, he closed with a double bogey that left him as one of four on three under for the week alongside Laurie Canter, Ryan Fox and Sebastian Soderberg.

Canter was the star of the show, however, enjoying the round of the tournament so far.

His six-under 65 on Friday, which was two shots better than anyone managed the previous day, might have been even better had he avoided a bogey on the 16th.

"The perfectionist in me would like to have played the final three holes better, it sort of took me out of the flow I was in to be honest," he told the European Tour after.

"But up until then it was probably the best 15 holes of golf I've played on tour. I've had lower scores, but in terms of control of the golf ball on a difficult course and quite challenging conditions, certainly on the front nine, it was really, really good.

"On the front nine, I really didn't miss a shot. A couple of holes we deliberately played away from, trying to hit it to 20-25 feet.

"I think the pins were more generous than yesterday, but even so I was obviously delighted to go out in five under, which is great around here."

But it is Langasque who takes a slender one-shot lead into Saturday, with his four-under score for the tournament coming from two rounds of 69, the latest of which including just one bogey and 15 pars as his consistency on the day paid dividends.

World number one Jon Rahm endured a dreadful opening day at the Andalucia Masters he carded a seven-over-par 78, but Rafa Cabrera Bello looked sharp again after winning the Open de Espana.

Rahm failed to get a single birdie during what was his worst ever round on the European Tour, and his worst in any competition since the 2018 Open Championship.

But the home crowd's mood was at least soothed by the form of Cabrera Bello, who was fresh from success in Madrid last weekend, coming through a play-off with Adri Arnaus to seal a first European Tour title since 2017.

While Arnaus had something of a nightmare on Thursday as he carded a six-over 77, Cabrera Bello more or less picked up where he left off as he went around in 68, leaving him one behind leader Julien Guerrier.

The Frenchman – who started on the 10th – will be frustrated not to have taken a healthier lead into Friday, however, with two bogeys on his front nine meaning he had to work doubly hard for his one-shot advantage.

Guerrier's countryman Romain Langasque was the only other individual to do better than one-under for the round, highlighting the brutality of the Real Club Valderrama when conditions are windy.

The 26-year-old was helped by an eagle on the par-five fourth hole, though he followed that with successive bogeys.

Six others find themselves tied for fourth on one under par, but much of the attention will be on Rahm's response.

After starting on the 10th, he reached the turn at six-over. While he only dropped one more shot on his back nine, the U.S. Open champion will need to produce something special if he is to avoid the cut.

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