Emmitt, Costner, Theismann to play in Pro-Am

Updated: February 24, 2005, 6:32 PM ET
Associated Press

LUTZ, Fla. -- Vince Gill, Emmitt Smith and Kevin Costner will tee up alongside Champions Tour players in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, the 50-and-over tour event patterned after the PGA Tour's stop at Pebble Beach.

Joe Theismann and Boomer Esiason have also signed up for the senior event in which each of the 76 pros will team with an amateur partner for the initial 36 holes Friday and Saturday, before the low 12 amateurs advance to Sunday's final round.

Pros post their own score in a battle for the $240,000 winner's check, and also pair with their amateur partners in two-man team competition.

"This format is a little different atmosphere," said Hale Irwin, the Champions Tour's career leader with 41 victories. "Anytime you introduce the amateur element into the equation, it suggests just a little different preparation -- mental preparation.

"You have to be aware that this has a different element involved. Not bad, just different. I don't mind it one bit. You just have to be prepared."

The format is not for everybody. Some pros would prefer not to share with work space.

But the amateurs are paying $10,000 each for the chance to share the fairways with the pros, and last year's initial Outback Pro-Am presented more than $500,000 to charity.

"It's the format Outback wants," Gary Koch, a TV analyst and senior pro who lives in Tampa and works as the tournament's player host. "If it wasn't for Outback, there wouldn't be a tournament. We're talking two days. If you can't deal with it for two days, then don't come play. It's not Chinese water torture."

Pros heading the field include Irwin, senior rookie Curtis Strange, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and 2004 senior player of the year Craig Stadler.

"They've really caught on to something here that entices the players," Kite said. "The celebrities and amateurs playing have a great time, and the fans seem to like it. It's a neat thing to come up with some different formats."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press