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LINKS TO THE PROS AMATEUR GOLFERS TEAM UP WITH SENIOR TOUR STARS.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Even veteran television sports anchor Todd Donoho, a man who's accustomed to rubbing elbows with professional sports figures, couldn't hide his excitement Wednesday at the Valencia Country Club, waiting to tee off in the Senior PGA Tour's pro-am event.

``This is kid-in-a-candy-store stuff. This is a real charge,'' said Donoho, a Valencia resident who joined hundreds of amateur golfers for the chance to play with the stars of the Professional Golfers Association's Senior Tour.

The Valencia Country Club is hosting the tour's SBC Senior Classic this weekend, an event that draws amateurs for the mid-week pro-am at an entrance cost of $3,000 to $5,000.

While Fox Sports Net's Donoho admitted playing with the pros can be a little intimidating, Larry Nelson, last year's Senior Tour Player of the Year, said playing in pro-ams presents different opportunities.

``Some of my best friends I met playing in pro-ams,'' said Nelson, who won six tournaments and $2.7 million in 2000. ``Sometimes you get (amateurs) who are very quiet, and then there are others who are more outgoing and ask a lot of questions.''

Each pro is matched with four amateurs for 18 holes, but every participant receives a gift basket for his or her efforts.

Bob Houghton of Lakewood was matched with pro golfer Don Bies for his first-ever pro-am and said he was enjoying the sunshine and golf, although a sense of humor kept things light.

``I'm the gardener out here,'' Houghton said as he watched Bies tee off on the group's 10th hole. ``I'm planting trees and removing bushes, but (Bies) has been really patient and helpful.''

For the pros, however, pro-ams offer an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the course before they begin playing for the serious money.

``I've heard nice things about this course,'' said Nelson, who didn't play in the pro-am Wednesday. ``It looks like it's in great shape, looks like a great place to play.''

Friday through Sunday, 78 senior players will play 54 holes - or three rounds of 18 holes - for a $1.4 million purse.

Donoho, meanwhile, was waiting for his afternoon tee time with pro Howard Twitty when he admitted that he could probably use some practice swings.

``It's a real charge to play in tournament conditions. This takes it a notch above,'' he said. ``But I haven't swung a club in over a week so I'm hoping to get in some swings on the driving range.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Sportscaster Todd Donoho lines up his shot while teamed with professional golfer Howard Twitty.

(2) An amateur player shoots out of a difficult lie Wednesday at the Valencia Country Club's pro-am golf tournament.

David R. Crane/Staff Photographer
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 8, 2001
Words:457
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