Following the outbreak of the latest Covid variant, called Omicron, leading to travel restrictions regarding South Africa, this week's South African Open will no longer be part of the European Tour.
The tournament, however, still goes ahead as a Sunshine Tour event, with a field predominantly made up of players from Southern Africa countries.
That said, a handful of overseas pros remain on the African continent to contest one of the oldest national opens in world golf.
What should have been the second of three European Tour events in South Africa, will now be the concluding competition on the 2021 Sunshine Tour calendar.
The Alfred Dunhill Championship, which had been scheduled to take place next week at Leopard Creek, has been scrapped.
What hasn't changed is that the tournament will still take place in Sun City at Gary Player Country Club, one of the most iconic and respected venues in golf.
Opened in 1979, the course made its name as host of the lucrative Nedbank Challenge.
Designed by Gary Player, the course is almost eight thousand yards in length, and was built inside an extinct volcanic crater.
In December 2020, Sun City hosted the South African Open for the first time, and it returns to the schedule 12 months later to do it all over again.
On the tee
The two biggest names taking part are Garrick Higgo and defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout, both of whom must stand a serious chance of winning this week.
Higgo, who ended the 2021 European Tour season 10th in the Driving Distance stats, will certainly fancy his chances at this week's venue.
He's a former champion here, having won the Sun City Challenge in 2019, which was his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour.
The Punter's De-Brief from Joburg Open
Elsewhere, Jaco Ahlers has posted a brace of podium finishes at this venue this year, while Neil Schietekat is another home golfer with good memories of Sun City.
Normally, neither player would be considered a major challenger in this event, but with a field depleted because of Omicron, and a handful of leading South Africans not playing, their chances have greatly improved.
One of the few overseas players remaining in the country is Johannes Veerman who tied-12th at last week's shortened and calamitous Joburg Open.
The course is located in the north-west of the country, around 100 miles from Pretoria, and 125 from Johannesburg, where last week's truncated 36-hole tournament was played.
It is also approximately 125 miles from the country's border with Botswana.
This parkland venue has Kikuyu grass fairways and Bent grass putting surfaces, and was carved out of densely-wooded rolling countryside.
At over 7,800 yards in length, it is a monster of a layout that demands accurate ball-striking, as well as power and accuracy.
Although the ball flies further than normal, due to the course being just over 1,000 feet above sea level, it still requires plenty of hefty swipes to get to grips with this venue.
Only one par-four is less than 440 yards, while all the par-threes are over 210. The shortest par-five is 547 yards.
From tee-to-green, it remains a course ready to penalise any errant shot thanks to its narrow fairways and small but quick putting surfaces which are well protected by sand. Water comes into play on just three holes.
In addition to staging the Nedbank Challenge for 39 consecutive years from 1981, Sun City has also been the venue for a number of other events on South Africa's Sunshine Tour.
During 2021, the course hosted the SunBet Challenge, in early June, and more recently the Blue Label Challenge.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Form Guide Table For Top-25 Finishes at Sun City
`21 (2) Blue Label Challenge (S);
`21 (1) SunBet Challenge (S);
`20 (2) South Africa Open (E/S);
`20 (1) Swazi Open (S);
`19 (2) Nedbank Challenge (E/S);
`19 (1) Sun City Challenge (S);
`18 (2) Nedbank Challenge (E/S);
`18 (1) Sun City Challenge (S);
`17 (2) Nedbank Challenge (E/S);
`17 (1) Sun City Challenge (S)
(S) - Sunshine Tour
(E/S) - Co-sanctioned with European Tour
LAST 10 WEEKS
This table lists all SOUTHERN AFRICA golfers to have competed on the world's major tours during the last 10 weeks, plus overseas pros competing at Sun City.
SUN CITY FORM T-25s (Last 10)
This table lists TOP-25 FINISHES ONLY from recent tournaments staged at Sun City, on either the Sunshine Tour or European Tour.
Please note, not all listed golfers in either table are competing in the South African Open.