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Tour pro Richard Mansell believes that Challenge Tour chiefs had no option but to postpone the start of the season in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The Challenge Tour had planned to begin its season with the ‘South African Swing’, which was to feature three events co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour throughout February.

On Thursday, following consultation with the medical teams from both tours, it was agreed to reschedule the events until later in the year.

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Richard Mansell, who finished fourth on the Road to Mallorca Rankings last year, said that the decision from the governing bodies was expected and admitted he would be uneasy taking to the course in the current climate.

“We had an email earlier this week warning us that they were going to make an announcement,” explained Mansell to bunkered.co.uk.

“All of the players expected it but it didn’t make it any less disappointing when the news did come through. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable going at the moment.

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“Tournaments can happen if it’s in places where it is safe and it’s easy to bubble. In South Africa, it’s really hard to bubble at the minute. There are no hotels open. That’s one of the biggest problems.”

The run of events will now begin from April 22-25, with the tournament name and venue yet to be announced, before the Cape Town Open takes place at Royal Cape Golf Club the week after. The Dimension Data Pro-Am will then round off the swing at Fancourt Golf Estate from May 6-9.

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Mansell has personal experience of the virus having tested positive back in November and says that his mindset during this pandemic has changed as a result.

“Before, I was quite naïve to it, like a lot of young people,” he added. “Since having it, I’m still not right now and I’m fit and healthy, so it’s made me realise that for people who are vulnerable this actually is quite serious. 

“When I had it, I didn’t have symptoms at all. It was when I got home from the grand final when I started to feel the after effects. When I got home, things like walking up the stairs became a challenge. I was short of breath and would have to stop. I definitely don’t feel right and still don’t feel normal.”

With the Challenge Tour’s full Road to Mallorca schedule still to be announced for 2021, the 25-year-old believes there could be some financial difficulties for some of his Challenge Tour colleagues.

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“I think it’s definitely going to be tough for people but the bottom line is it is the same for everyone and we are lucky that we are able to go and play golf,” added Mansell. “You only have to look at last year. I played ten events last year and I think there was 11 in total. You had some guys who were ready to play a full Challenge Tour season and ended up only playing six events, which is nothing. When that is their job and they are trying to earn a living, it would have been a tough year for many people.”

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