South Africa's Thriston Lawrence leads on turbulent day at Joburg Open

Thriston Lawrence leads after an uncertain second day at the Joburg Open on Friday. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

South Africa's Thriston Lawrence claimed a four-shot lead at the Joburg Open on Friday as imminent travel restrictions and a thunderstorm meant for a turbulent second round at the season-opening DP World Tour event.

The tour on Friday said in a statement the Joburg Open will be reduced to 54 holes "to help non-South African resident players, caddies and tournament support staff return to their home countries."

Round 3 will be a two-tee start with players grouped in three-balls.

A total of 14 golfers withdrew before the start of their second round and a further seven retired as play got underway following an overnight decision by Britain-- and later the European Parliament -- to impose a ban on flights from South Africa. The athletes are looking to catch flights out of the country to avoid having to quarantine on their return to Europe.

Rain and lightning halted play for over two hours, meaning half the field were yet to complete the round and must return on Saturday, before the third round.

Despite the conditions, Lawrence had a superb day, carding five birdies and an eagle and was two holes away from a flawless 64 before struggling to a bogey at the 17th.

Compatriot Zander Lombard is alone in second after carding a second consecutive 67 to move to 8 under for the tournament.

Next week's South African Open at Sun City has been downgraded to a Sunshine Tour event, the Tour said in a statement, with a reduced prize fund of $500,000 instead of $1.5 million.

"The Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was scheduled to be played at Leopard Creek Country Club from Dec. 9-12, has after lengthy consultations unfortunately been cancelled due to the adverse effect the travel restrictions will have on the field," the Tour said.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.