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Playing with the pros

Kids get chance to play with Champions Tour professionals at Valencia

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:53 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Saugus High senior golfer Tiara Wells said she was a bundle of nerves Tuesday.

Stepping onto the course at Valencia Country Club, she was one of only 15 junior players selected to play alongside Champions Tour professionals for a Pro-Junior Tournament.

Gary Hallberg, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and competitor in this weekend’s AT&T Champions Classic at Valencia Country Club, told her to drop her jaw.

“It makes me tense,” she said that he noted.

Though five teams competed in a five-hole tournament Tuesday, the theme of the event was professional golfers imparting wisdom to junior players.

“I think the love of the game,” Hallberg said was the message he tried to convey. “It’s fun. This is competition.”

Wells, an accomplished golfer at Saugus who hopes to continue her career in college, said his words were very beneficial.

Just being selected, she added was an honor.

To qualify for Tuesday’s event, junior golfers had to compete in a tournament.

Over 1,100 competed and 128 qualified.

The first 15 golfers to respond to an invitation were selected.

Wells was one of two Santa Clarita Valley golfers in the event.

Steven Moentmann, a 12-year-old Stevenson Ranch resident, played with AT&T Champions Classic defending champion Denis Watson.

“I can’t put it into words,” he said of the excitement of playing with Watson.

Moentmann was lucky enough to be given a driver by Champions Tour veteran Andy Bean at the 2007 tournament.

Bean was disgusted with his drive, then handed the club off to Moentmann.

It wasn’t lost on the Pico Canyon Elementary School sixth-grader on how important Tuesday’s experience was.

Watson was encouraging throughout.

Though Moentmann admitted that he was a little nervous, like his fellow Santa Clarita Valley resident.

But Hallberg said it’s good to feel that way.

“I told (Wells) it’s OK. Everyone’s nervous,” Hallberg said. “It’s how you handle it. You can choke or take it and say this is good.”
Hallberg’s team won the event.


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