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With the countdown on to the start of the 2015 Tshwane Open on 12 March, speakers highlighted the importance of the event at the Tshwane Open Pro-Am dinner at Pretoria Country Club on Tuesday, 10 March.

Held at the Pretoria Country Club, the dinner was hosted by programme director Maps Mopanyane and attended by distinguished guests led by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and City of Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa and including a number of the professionals who will be contesting the Tshwane Open.

"The Pretoria Country Club was established in 1910, and over the years several golfing spectacles have been played at the club," Pretoria Country Club Chairperson David Avery told guests. "However, I can confidently say that the 2015 Tshwane Open will be the biggest golfing tournament in the Pretoria Country Club's history.

"I would have never expected this in my time as a chairman," Avery said. "Thank you to the City of Tshwane for giving us this prestigious event."

Sunshine Tour Executive Director Selwyn Nathan reflected on the global global television viewership of golfing events hosted in South Africa. The inaugural Tshwane Open broadcast package reached over 201-million households in 2013. This rose to over 217-million households in 2014, significantly boosting international awareness of the City of Tshwane.

"Over 200 countries will be viewing the 2015 Tshwane Open; the viewings have become absolutely gigantic," Nathan said.

Darren Clarke, a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who currently plays on the European Tour and was recently named Europe's captain for 2016 Ryder Cup, thanked the City of Tshwane for their ongoing support.

"Without their support these type of events couldn't be staged," Clarke said. "I've been asked to become an ambassador for the Tshwane Open, which I am delighted to announce that I've accepted. South Africa has a very special place in my heart - this was the place I turned pro, and I have many good friends here.

"I think we have a great week ahead of us, and this will be a very interesting tournament," Clarke added. "I think the Tshwane Open demands more respect ... I am sure everyone involved will enjoy it, and with all the viewership this will paint an even better picture of South Africa around the world."

The dinner featured a live crossing to the SABC 3 studios where Premier Makhura and Executive Mayor Ramokgopa fielded questions on the 2015 Tshwane Open and its positioning as "more than just golf", with both discussing the economic impact of the tournament and the growth of its international TV audience.

The dinner also included a prize-giving for the top performers at the Tshwane Open Pro-Am, with prizes presented by City of Tshwane Mayoral Committee Member for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke and Tshwane City Manager Jason Ngobeni.

The dinner concluded with a vote of thanks by Tshwane Deputy City Manager Lindiwe Kwele.

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