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PGA: AT&T takes one last swing

Golf tournament begins Thursday, with free admission to practice rounds starting today

Posted: March 9, 2009 12:59 a.m.
Updated: March 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The AT&T Champions Classic returns to Santa Clarita today, and officials expect it to bring both prestige and money to the valley.

"There is a $7 million direct impact to the area," said Amy Sparks, administrative analyst for the city of Santa Clarita.

The 72-hole PGA tournament begins Thursday, but the events kick off today with free admission to practice rounds, which continues Tuesday. The Pro-Am rounds on Wednesday and Thursday are also free, according to tournament officials.

"AT&T is offering these free admission days as a way to say ‘thank you' to the fans for supporting this event as the company closes out its sponsorship of the AT&T Champions Classic," said Mike Bone, tournament marketing director.

This is the last year AT&T will sponsor the event, Sparks said. The tournament's history in the Los Angeles area dates back to 1990, originating at Rancho Park Golf Course before moving to Wilshire Country Club in 1995. The event moved to Valencia Country Club in 2001.

"We don't have a title sponsor for next year, but we're working on it," Sparks said.

Before the pros square off, the Los Angeles County Junior Golfers team up with the PGA golfers to play in the AT&T Champions Classic Pro-Junior. The five-hole tournament on Tuesday night will partner 15 junior golfers with five pro golfers in four-person teams.

Steven Moentmann, 12, of Stevenson Ranch and Tiara Wells, 17, of Saugus, are two locals who will compete in the AT&T Champions Classic Pro-Junior.

"This opportunity gives these Junior players personal contact with legends of the game, but what we have found really interesting about this program is the professionals who participate have as much if not more fun than the Juniors," said Brian Fitzgerald, executive director of the AT&T Champions Classic.

For those who want a break away from the golf course in the middle of the week, there's "COC Presents: One Night Only with Louie Anderson" at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center.

"We are extremely excited to be able to present what is sure to be an evening of laughter and hilarity," said Adam Philipson, PAC managing director. "Because of his long and recognizable career, large national following and legendary standing in the comic world, Louie fits in perfectly with our desire to bring well-known and outstanding comedians to the PAC and to Santa Clarita."

The Champions Tour event begins Friday and continues through the weekend. Fans also have the opportunity to watch the players warm up along the driving range and can follow their favorite fan-friendly Champions Tour professional throughout the picturesque Valencia Country Club, one of the toughest tests on the Champions Tour schedule.

City officials are planning to ease traffic by assigning extra Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's deputies to the areas around the golf course, Sparks said.

"There isn't going to be a lot of vehicle traffic," she said. Tournament attendees are asked to park at COC and take shuttle buses to the golf course to ease congestion, Sparks said.

For more information, Pro-Am participation or hospitality options, please call (661) 260-1897 or visit the tournament's Web site at


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