Muscat (AFP) - Italian golfers Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli went from quarantine over coronavirus fears to within touching distance of the Oman Open lead on Thursday after a last-minute clearance to take part.
Gagli had suffered flu-like symptoms and as Molinari, the older brother of former British Open winner Francesco, was his roommate, both were forced to withdraw from the tournament and placed in isolation as a precautionary measure.
However, they were then cleared to play after the Oman health ministry reported that Gagli's test results were negative.
Despite being already replaced in the draw, they were then added to the field and sent out together late in the day.
Gagli was three under par after 17 holes while Molinari was two under when play was suspended due to darkness.
Fellow Italian Guido Migliozzi led after the first day with a six-under 66, one shot better than South Korea's Lee Tae Hee, South Africa's Brandon Stone and Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard.
"Still shocked by what happened in the last 36 hours. I am absolutely fine and so is my good friend Lorenzo," Molinari wrote on Twitter.
"It was a scary and annoying situation because it is not something that was in our hands and there were no certainties at all.
"The European Tour, the Oman Ministry of Health, the Oman Golf Federation and all their staff did an unbelievable job and they tried everything they could to help us in this awful situation.
"Thank God everything is fine, we are healthy and we are back to playing golf, which even this morning seemed impossible."
Italy, which has reported 12 deaths and 400 confirmed cases in Europe's worst outbreak of the coronavirus, has attempted to lock down the epicentre in the north to contain its spread.