Pro golfers stuck in South Africa decide to wait things out
While many golfers try to flee South Africa as possible, Dutch golfers Darius van Driel, Daan Huizing and Lars van Meijel decided to stay at least one more week. "It's chaos. We don't know what to expect when we go back to the Netherlands. That's why we're staying," Van Driel said. "Everything goes on here as if nothing is wrong. That's what makes all the panic so strange."
The that a new, likely more contagious variant of the coronavirus was identified led to a chaotic end of the Joburg Open. Many golfers packed their gear on Friday and took the first plane home. "It seemed like a chain reaction. First the message came that a new coronavirus variant had appeared. When many countries decided to close their airspace, everyone panicked. A lot of guys wanted to leave immediately," Van Driel said.
The tournament ended one day early. The third and final round on Saturday had already been cancelled due to bad weather. The European Tour arranged a charter flight to Dubai for the remaining golfers. "I had signed up for it first," the 32-year-old golfer said. "But from Dubai, you have to figure it out yourself. I looked at other flights, but there are barely any, or you have to pay a ridiculous amount. That's why I thought: I might as well stay here."
Huizing and Van Meijel decided to do the same. "Fortunately, we are in a bubble and do not have much contact with others," Van Meijel said.
"You don't have any panic here," Van Driel said. "In the hotel, there was a children's party on Friday and now, there is a wedding going on downstairs. The rest of the world is panicking, but in South Africa, it seems like there's nothing wrong."
The trio will participate in the South African Open in Sun City and then, return to their own country. "When I go home, I train alone. I prefer to play in a tournament where I can improve," Van Driel said. "The weather is nice here. I rebooked my ticket and will go back a week earlier than planned if planes keep flying. Otherwise, we'll celebrate Christmas in South Africa."
Reporting by ANP.