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​A happy and excited atmosphere ended the Pro-Am at a gala dinner, with players and spectators alike looking forward to some top-notch golfing at the Joburg Open.
IT was all fun and games at the prestigious Joburg Open Gala Dinner with the executive mayor, Parks Tau, and City manager, Trevor Fowler, unable to contain their laughter.

City manager Trevor Fowler hands out prizes to the winnersCity manager Trevor Fowler hands out prizes to the winnersThe dinner was an upbeat informal prize-giving affair for those who played in the one-day Pro-Am tournament and was used to set the tone for the main tournament, which starts today and ends on 15 January. It features 210 golfers all vying for victory on the green.

Set against the lush and beautiful landscape of the fairway and greens of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in Linksfield, the gala was attended by the who’s who of golfing, politicians and business bigwigs.

Earlier in the day, some 60 professional golfers teamed up with amateurs to make up four balls in the Pro-Am. Tau was delighted with his showing in the tournament. He said the event “is important as it contributes in showcasing Joburg as a world class city”.

This year’s tournament was Tau’s first as mayor.

During his speech, which was short and sharp, he jokingly recalled being on a New York golf course, where he was asked if animals frequented the fairways in Joburg. Shocked by the question, he was forced to up his game and graciously show his hosts how well he could play.

After putting at the second hole, Tau said he was impressed that the tournament had grown significantly since inception and that professionals were more eager about participating.

CelebritiesFormer Bafana Bafana player Shaun Bartlett also took part in the Pro-AmThe mayor and his squad were among those drawn at the dinner from a list of Pro-Am tournament teams by the portfolio head of community development, Chris Vondo. They received Mont Blanc pens and wallets as prizes.

Tau’s team included double Joburg Open champion Charl Schwartzel; the Sunshine Tour commissioner, Selwyn Nathan; and the chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke.

Joburg Open
The Joburg Open is in its sixth year and South Africa star and 2011 US Masters champion, Schwartzel will be looking for a hat-trick as the king of Joburg. He will join an exclusive band of golfers if he wins a third consecutive Joburg Open title this weekend.

Prize money for the prestigious Open sits at a total of €1,3-million (about R13,7-million), which is distributed among the players who make the cut. The cut is 65+ ties. Schwartzel was also the big winner, walking away with two prizes, at the annual Sunshine Tour golf awards for 2011 held in Johannesburg on 10 January.

The Masters and Joburg Open champion won the Sunshine Tour Commissioners’ Award for his contribution to South African golf throughout the year.He was also awarded honourary life membership OF the Sunshine tour, along with fellow South African Majors winners, Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman.

Schwartzel, who has seven European Tour titles under his belt, said the pleasures of competing at a club near where he grew up included being able to relax and nap at home after each round. “It is a course I played many times as an amateur and junior so it is always nice to come back. I always have a good feeling when I compete there and staying at home is cool,” he said.

Executive mayor Parks Tau taking part in the Pro-Am earlier in the day (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau taking part in the Pro-Am earlier in the day (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)He shot four sub-70 rounds in the Joburg Open last year – including a second-round 61 – to win by four strokes from fellow South African Garth Mulroy after finishing six shots clear of the field the previous season.

Golf enthusiasts can catch all the action from the front line since all of the games are open to the public. Tickets are on sale at the gate of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club until 16 January; single tickets are R30, and a full event ticket, which covers all four days, is R80. It is free for pensioners and children under the age of 16.

Alternatively, Supersport 1 will broadcast all four days of action between 12noon and 4pm.

The Joburg Open kicks off the upcoming golf year, as it is a co-sanctioned Order of Merit event on the PGA European Tour and Sunshine Tour.

Sponsors include the City of Johannesburg, Bwired, Volvo and Legacy Hotels and Resorts. New sponsors have also got involved in the tournament this year, and BMW, Investec, EOH and Primedia Outdoor are the latest companies to join the competition.

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Joburg Open