Sean McDonough heads into unknown at Latin America Amateur Championship

(L-R) Commentator Sean McDonough and analyst Andy North together at The Open Championship last year. (Andy Hall/ESPN)
(L-R) Commentator Sean McDonough and analyst Andy North together at The Open Championship last year. (Andy Hall/ESPN)

Normally at this time of year, Sean McDonough is calling Monday night college basketball for ESPN after a season of college football.

But this year, his January is literally going south – far, far south – as he calls the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship golf event in Buenos Aires, Argentina, beginning tomorrow.

The event at Pilar Golf Club will include the top amateur golfers from Latin America vying for an invitation to the 2015 Masters Tournament, with the winner and runner(s)-up exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open Championship and U.S. Open. ESPN networks will air two hours of live play per day, with two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North serving as analyst in the booth with McDonough. Dottie Pepper will report from the course and John Sutcliffe will conduct player interviews.

“I’m excited for this,” said McDonough, who left his New England home on Sunday. “I think it’s a great idea to try to grow the game in Latin America. The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has been a big success, and I think the people who are in charge of this event are trying to duplicate that success in Latin America.”

Latin America Amateur Championship across ESPN (Times ET)
First Round: Thursday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m. (ESPN2, WatchESPN)
Second Round: Friday, Jan. 16, 1 p.m. (ESPN2, WatchESPN)
Third Round: Saturday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. (ESPNEWS, WatchESPN)
Final Round: Sunday, Jan. 18, 11 a.m. (ESPN2, WatchESPN)
Final Round Highlights: Sunday, Jan. 18, 5 p.m. (ESPN2, WatchESPN)
McDonough and the other ESPN announcers will be calling an event with amateur players who largely are not well-known in the United States. McDonough has been studying player bios and watching practice rounds to become more familiar with the participants.

“When I first was assigned it, I honestly couldn’t name anybody who was in the event,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge, but we’re getting a lot of help.

“The majority of the time when you do a golf tournament, you’re describing action on a hole you can’t see,” he said. “We’re relying either on people in the truck or a lot of times, you’re relying on your own visual recognition of that person.

“The communication between the spotters out there on the course trying to help us and the truck and those of us in the booth needs to be really good because we’re going to really need their help.”

McDonough was looking forward to his first trip to Argentina.

“Hopefully we get a little time to get out and see some of Buenos Aires,” he said. “Everybody I’ve talked with who has been down there says it’s a great city and I’m looking forward to exploring some of that.”

In addition to the U.S. telecasts, ESPN will provide exclusive live coverage throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

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