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Smoltz falls short in bid to qualify for U.S. Open

May 10, 2010, 11:49 PM EDT

smoltz-golf-100510.jpgWe learned last week that former pitching great John Smoltz was going to play in a local qualifier in hopes of advancing to play in one of golf’s biggest tournaments: the U.S. Open.

Unfortunately, we find out today that Smoltz, despite carrying a 2-handicap, came up short. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

He didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t make it, either. His 6-over 76 was six shots away from contention. Smoltz didn’t play poorly, but he failed to hit his approach shots close enough to give himself a chance to make birdies.

The real difference came on the greens, where Smoltz had trouble getting anything to drop. After missing a two-footer on his 11th hole, he quipped, “That’s what happens when you don’t putt gimmes.” He later predicted a putter change, saying he’d probably make a call to the bullpen for one of the 25 different putters he owns.

Despite his putting woes, Smoltz showed he still had the ability to close the deal when he banged in a 20-footer to save par on the final hole, a conclusion that drew applause from the 100 or more who gathered there to watch.

His dream temporarily dashed, Smoltz will return to broadcasting games for MLB and the Turner Network, and presumably, since he has yet to retire, searching for a team. Smoltz has said he would like to play on the Champions Tour when he becomes eligible – by turning 50 – in 2017. With seven years to practice, and Smoltz’s competitive fire, don’t be surprised if it happens.

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  1. Scarf - May 11, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Here we have another pro athlete who is delusional regarding their prospects in pro golf. It ain’t gonna happen without getting a track record “of note” in the amateur ranks. I know many world class amateurs with long and illustrious track records who don’t qualify for the few spots open each year on the Champions Tour when they hit age 50.
    There is no substitute whatsoever to experience playing scratch golf in competition irrespective of how good an athlete someone may be.
    I personal know at least 100 amateur golfers in their early 50’s who would send a cab for Smoltz to play for whatever he wanted and they would eat him alive on a regular basis.
    Message for Smoltz – get a track record in golf or you will have zero chance of getting beyond stage 1 of Champions Tour qualifying.

  2. Florida727 - May 11, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    I disagree. I think an athlete of Smoltz’ caliber has an excellent chance of making it to the Champions Tour. You have to remember, RIGHT NOW he’s still a baseball player/announcer first and foremost. Once he does officially give up baseball, and devote ALL his competitive energies to golf, that 2-handicap ends up with a ‘+’ sign in front of it. Plus, to make it on the Champions Tour you don’t have to shoot 19-under every week to survive… you just have to, to win. Smoltz is an amazing athlete. I wish him nothing but the best. Class acts deserve to succeed. He’s one of the classiest. By the way, bring your 100 amateur friends down here to Florida to our little course. Just make sure they’ve pre-paid for their return ticket home. Wouldn’t want them to leave without a means of transportation.

  3. Devil's Advocate - May 11, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    I have to agree with Florida727…Smoltz has a very good shot of making the Champions Tour events if he would devote a couple hours a day towards shot development. Don’t forget that golf is a game, not an athletic sport, so all he’d have to do is hone his shot accuracy with a little practice, and he’ll be every bit as good as any of the seniors golfers. He’s already in far better shape, physically, than 99% of the senior pros.
    Just as in horseshoes, darts, billiards, bowling or NASCAR, you don’t have to be an athlete to excel at golf. Just a little practice and you’ll be just as good as the “pros”!

  4. Advocate critic - May 11, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Devil’s advocate obviously never played golf, or did for awhile until he decided it wasn’t an athletic sport since he sucked at it. Let’s see, flexiblity, strength, hand-eye coordination, repeatablity,focus – right, not an athletic sport. What sport did you play in high school – marching band?

  5. Dan Olson - May 11, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Devils advocate, you are one incredibly stupid person. Golf IS an athletic sport that takes incredibly gifted skills to excel. Its obvious you have never played the game. Wise up, idiot.

  6. caddythedead - May 11, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Let’s go walk 4 or 5 miles and swing a club 300 to 400 times a day everyday carry your own clubs in all kinds of weather then tell us how golfers are not atheletes. Golf is the hardest game in the world and you would know this if you played. I bet most of the pro golfers could kick your ass.

  7. BC - May 11, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    John Brodie and Rick Rhoden both did it. Who’s to say Smoltz can’t do it?

  8. Dave Fratzke - May 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    I have to agree with Scarf.. Most people have no idea how hard it really is to make it. Jerry Rice, Mike Schmidt, just to name a few come to mind.. They play well in a celebrity event and all of the sudden they can be professional golfers.. Not going to happen.. The difference between a scratch golfer and an actual professional is huge.. Watch a few of the Monday qualifiers if you don’t believe me.. Billy Mayfair just had to play in one a few weeks ago and he has won multiple times on the PGA tour.. It is a very very tough business..

  9. Elvoid - May 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Some here seem to know it, but let me reiterate:
    Golf at the tour pro level is ridiculous. Comparing a 2 handicap Smoltz (and make no mistake, a 2 cap is a very, very good golfer) to even a mid-level pga tour pro is like comparing a stock Mustang to an Indy car in a race. Sure, the Mustang is nice – but head to head, they are light years apart.
    Not saying Smoltz can’t do it – but the odds are incredibly long. He could beat a thousand balls a day (like Singh) and he still might not get good enough. There are far more talented players than Smoltz that do just that and never come close making it on tour.
    Devil’s Advocate has obviously never touched a golf club. This idea that with “just a little practice” you can be as good as the pro’s is idiotic.
    Good Luck to Smoltz – he’ll need it.

  10. HP3 - May 11, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench couldn’t make it in golf after years of practicing and playing. The gap between a scratch amateur and a pro is astronomical. Hawk Harrelson quit baseball to turn into a golf pro and how did that work out?

  11. Phillyhack - May 11, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Elvoid hit the nail on the head. Golf is a ridiculously hard sport. If you are a 10 handicap you are better that 90% of all golfers. A two is awesome. A non golfer has no clue how hard it is to go from shooting 100, then break 90 and then break 80 let alone become scratch. Pros are even a level way beyond scratch.

  12. DawgFan - May 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    It’s comical to see some of the negativity being dished out on here. Nowhere in the article does it say that Smoltz stated he thought or believed he could make the cut. He entered the tourney and played. Where’s the harm or the arrogance in that?

  13. BC - May 11, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    I’m just saying that we shouldn’t say he can’t make it just because he shot a 76 in one tournament. Maybe he can. Who knows. It’ll be fun to watch.
    And Phillyhack… I agree it is INSANELY difficult to go from shooting say, high 90’s to get into the 80’s. I don’t play any more after ruining my ankle, but I shot in the high 90’s from the time I was about 17 until my mid-30’s. One year I decided to play more and practice more and finally got to shooting around 91-92 every time out (best was an 85). It was incredibly hard work for a relatively non-athletic person like me. So say I were athletic, I’d have been shooting what, low 80’s? On a professional level course, that would put me about 20 strokes from the pros. Put it this way, I shot 107 at Ridgewood CC in NJ when it was groomed in PGA (well, Senior PGA) condition and was THRILLED with how I played.
    Bottom line, I’m not saying it’s an easy endeavor and that Smoltz WILL do it, I’m just saying, well, maybe he CAN. Let’s see. I think it would be great.

  14. Elvoid - May 11, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    I don’t think anyone is really saying he absolutely CAN’T. I mean, who knows? And good luck to him and I wish him well if he really wants to give it a shot.
    However, most people here are just talking reality – not negativity. And the incredibly ignorant comment made earlier by someone else – “practice and you’ll be as good as the pros” – didn’t help.
    Like anyone else at the top level of any sport – the easiest way to say it is they are born with wiring that you and I don’t have. (not my idea – someone writing about Nicklaus said it first) They have an innate talent for the requirements of the game that you are either born with or not. But that doesn’t make them good enough. Even with that head start, it THEN takes an incredible level of dedication and hard work to harness and hone that talent to the highest level.

  15. Jonny5 - May 11, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Ohhhh who cares? I’m just glad his ego trip has ended. Smoltz, you’re not going to become a pro with this much smaller ball on a this much larger playing field. Okay?

  16. mgflolox - May 11, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Golf is an incredibly hard game to excel at, but I would say that the biggest element separating the professionals from good amateur players has more to do with their mental game, competitive drive and focus than how well they strike the ball. Smoltz has more than capably demonstrated that hes has all those attributes in spades. I think that if he applied himself to playing on the Champions tour the way he did to pitching, he could be successful. THAT’S what separates elite athletes from the rest of us.

  17. Josh in DC - May 11, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I’m blown away at the negativity here. I think he deserves credit for trying. Really.
    He’s got all the money he’ll ever need and could have humiliated himself. Good for him. It makes me like the guy.

  18. Ikancagin - May 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Hopefully he didn’t leave his nine iron on the 18th green.

  19. Bob Harkins - May 12, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Smoltz wouldn’t do that, but I might. Then again, my upbringing was somewhat questionable.

  20. steve - May 17, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    The first thing any scratch golfer needs to do is be able to hit fairways and greens at the length of the tour courses. If you’re not playing 7500+ yard courses from the tips, forget it. You’ll be hitting 3 and 4 irons all day to the front edge instead of 8s or 9s. Getting it close on the approach requires you get the ball high and stick it. If you’re a scratch golfer you know how to address the ball and strike it well. You need distance off the tee to put yourself in a position to get it close enough to hit putts. Everyone saying that scratch golfers and tour pros are leagues apart are right. One of the most important aspects is distance off the tee. Period!

  21. zjs946 - Nov 21, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    I am one of those guys in limbo land, ive done very well in some college golf tournaments and can throw up some 60s numbers every once and a while, Steve what you just said is one of the dumbest things ive ever read. Ive played with guys who have terrible swings and hit the ball like girls off the tee that can just get the ball close to the hole. Golf is all about putting it close and making the putt. If you can go that you can win. It doesnt matter if you can hit it 300 yards or not, corey pavin is an example of that. Yes i agree that a scratch golfer and a tour pro are light years apart, i couldnt even come close to hacking it on even the nationwide tour and im better then a scratch, a lot better. This being said that has nothing to do with how i hit the ball off the tee or how far i hit it, i might even be better at this then some guys on tour. Golf is won and lost with wedges and on the greens. Period! Sorry for opening an old thread.

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