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​​​Heavyweights take part in Joburg Open’s Pro-Am

Playing on the difficult east course of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, the four-ball consisting of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau, Selwyn Nathan, Joe Asamoah and professional golfer George Coetzee made a late charge for the honours of the Joburg Open Pro-Am Challenge on Tuesday.

But that was not enough to deny ultimate winners – professional player Oliver Bekker and partners Johan Scholtz, Stephan Botha and Philip Hughes – from sweeping to victory with 95 points overall.

George Coetzee is the defending champion of the Joburg Open. Professional player Jean Hugo led the winners on the west course, finishing with 91 points overall. His team included Leedam Vercillino, Chris van Rensburg and Anton Jankowitz.

Other notable figures who took part in the Pro-Am Challenge included former Communications Minister General Siphiwe Nyanda, SITA Chief Executive Officer Freeman Nomvalo, leading businessman and former North West Premier Popo Molefe and African National Congress MP Tony Yengeni.

Recently appointed Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke also took part in the challenge.

Speaking later at the Pro-Am prize-giving dinner he hosted, Mayor Tau said the Joburg Open – which tees off on Thursday February 26 – had showcased the City of Johannesburg to millions of TV viewers worldwide since its inception nine years ago. “The tournament has positioned the City on the global stage. The returns have been enormous and we’re quite happy about that.”

He said the Joburg Open had also assisted to launch the careers of many golfers, including those of South Africans.

He said the tournament had also given hope to youngsters in the nearby Alexandra Township, where a driving range had been built to create opportunities for those who love the sport. This year’s total purse is €1.3 million (R15 million).

Also of significance is the fact that the tournament affords the players the opportunity to qualify for the British Open, which this year will be played at St Andrews.