By Kent Gray
MENA Tour No.1 Luke Joy has been forced out of the final event of the developmental circuit’s South African swing after being hospitalised with a vicious bout of malaria.
The 29-year-old Abu Dhabi-based Englishman blamed altitude sickness after struggling through last week’s Jo’burg City Masters and hoped to be right for ‘The Roar” which starts at Waterkloof Golf Club in Pretoria Tuesday. But his self-diagnosis sadly proved wildly inaccurate.
“Unfortunately that little bug I thought I had was malaria. I’ve been in to hospital and been on some savage drugs these past few days. It’s been horrendous,” Joy told Golf Digest Middle East. “I just hope the drugs have worked to clear it.”
Joy’s health nosedived in the early hours of Friday morning after he missed the cut in Jo’burg. He admitted at the time that he “didn’t really have any control of body” and couldn’t “recall much of my last nine holes.”
A high fever and a night of vomiting convinced him to take the worrying symptoms to a doctor near his accommodation in Pretoria.
“I was put straight on a drip and a given a bunch of drugs to try and bring my temperature and heart rate down before some blood tests to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. The tests didn’t come back too great and showed that somewhere on my travels in the past few weeks I had picked up Malaria and was on the struggle bus. Luckily they found it early enough that I could be put in medication and rest at home in bed.”
Joy described the medley of tablets he was prescribed – antibiotics, immune defence and some anti-malarial pills – as “aggressive to say the least”.
“It was a three day crash course which basically ruined me. Today is the first day off the pills and I do feel better which is nice. I just had another blood test to see if all the parasites are out of my system so I can fly back and get back on the road to recovery,” the Yas Links-attached Dorset man said.
“I think it might take a while as I have not really been able to eat anything or keep anything down for the past five days so fingers crossed the results come back positive so I can get back to Abu Dhabi and then back to the UK at the end of the month.”
Joy said it “pained him” to withdraw from The Roar “but I think getting back to normal is more important than attempting to hit a white ball round a field”.
“Overall it has been a pretty crap four week trip in Africa. Be it the golf, the place or my health, it has definitely challenged me in some interesting ways. All in the learning curve of golf I guess, and let’s hope next time I peg it up I don’t catch any other random bloody viruses that knock me for six.”
With Joy sidelined, countryman Jamie Elson has the chance to take over top spot in the MENA Tour point standings.
Elson led by a shot heading into the final round in Jo’burg before fading to solo sixth. It was an improvement on his T14 finish at the South to East Challenge, the opening event of the MENA Tour’s South Africa swing, co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, and sees him in second place on the OOM standings. But Elson will still be hoping to make more of his strong starts in the MENA Tour safari.