Andrew Johnston explained his withdrawal from the British Masters after nine holes, conceding to struggling with the strict playing conditions, as Renato Paratore moved into the lead.

The event at Close House in Newcastle is being played amid stringent biosecurity protocols, with players not allowed to go beyond the course and the hotel.

Johnston, a top-10 finisher at The Open in 2016, had gone four over par through the front nine on Wednesday before pulling out of the tournament.

"I'm struggling to get my head around it all," Johnston said. "One minute I'm coming out of lockdown, going out for dinner, and then the next I'm back in lockdown in a hotel room.

"I've been on-off saying I'm going to play, I'm not going to play, for months.

"I kept changing my mind. But being here and being confined to the hotel, confined to the course and not being able to bring my family is ultimately not what I want and not how I want to live my life.

"We like to travel as a family and it's just been very difficult to get my head around being stuck in those two places and then coming out and trying to compete.

"It just doesn't feel right. I tried to come up here but I was leaving it later and later.

"I came up Tuesday morning to try to be away as small a time as possible, but it's not good prep for a tournament and it shows I don't really want to be here.

"I've learned to be honest about it, whereas in the past I might have just swallowed it up. I'm not going to do that anymore. If I'm not happy, I'm not going to be here. That’s the golden rule for me now.

"If I'm not in a good place, or I haven't got the right set up around me, then it's not right for me."

Paratore was a stroke behind David Law after round one and carded a five-under 66 to move to 11 under. 

Dale Whitnell and Justin Harding are a stroke behind, the latter setting the low score of round two with an eight-under 63.