John Smoltz takes a hit at PGA Tour champions in Tucson
Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz becomes the latest athlete to enter the professional golf tournament forum when he starts today in the Cologuard Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event in Tucson, Arizona.
This isn’t Smoltz’s first attempt to take on the world’s top 50+ golfers. He qualified for the US Senior Open at Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado last summer, shooting 85-77 to miss the 36-hole cut. Again, his expectations for this event were low. His responsibilities as a baseball analyst for Fox and the MLB network left little time for training. Former Atlanta Braves star Recount Golf summary he wasn’t expecting to make the 36-hole cut in the premier league championship on the senior circuit and had already booked a return flight for Saturday.
The 51-year-old is better prepared this time around. He trained on the iincredible 9-hole course in its garden, play rounds every day, work out at the gym and come up confident afterwards winning the celebrity division of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January, winning $ 100,000.
This is the first of three sponsor exemptions that Smoltz has accepted on the Champions Tour this year. He will also compete in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, April 19-21, and the American Family Insurance Classic, June 21-23.
âI see golf a little differently now in that I look at it more competitively,â Smoltz says Golf Digest. “Because now I realize that just the fun of playing is not enough.”
While under contract to call baseball games on television for three years, the ultra-competitive Smoltz wants to be more than a sideshow in his Champions Tour outings. Although three shoulder surgeries don’t get him to run 340 yards like he did 15 to 20 years ago when he was playing regular games against Tiger Woods at Isleworth in Orlando, qualifying for the Senior Open has proven he has the skills and the courage to compete. against the best.
Yet any time a professional athlete receives a sponsor exemption for a PGA Tour sponsored tournament, there is an argument that he is “stealing” a spot from a more deserving pro.
This is a ridiculous argument.
Sure, Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie are on the Cologuard Course at Omni Tucson National Resort this week, but only die-hard golf fans pay attention to the Champions Tour most weeks. Not only has Smoltz already created a lifetime memory for a Braves fan who survived colon cancer this week he also drew free attention to an under the radar stop on the senior tour as the majority of the golfing world pays attention to the Florida swing of the PGA Tour and leads to the Players Championship and Masters.
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has appeared in the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic for the past two years. He hasn’t come close to making the cut either year in the development tour event., however, he drew attention to a tournament that is not televised and takes place on a distant course in the remote Oakland suburb.
Upon announcing Curry’s return to the field in 2018, tournament officials said his presence increased attendance by 700% from the previous year and allowed the event to double its charitable donation. to $ 30,000.
“Steph had an incredible effect on the crowds last year”, tournament director Trish Gregovich told SFGate.com. “It was fascinating to see the number of fans he attracted who otherwise might not come to a PGA Tour or Web.com Tour event.”
(Curry, who sports a +0.5 handicap at the Elite California Golf Club in San Francisco, posted six rounds since the start of the NBA season in October, if you are wondering).
In October, former Oakland A and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder hit the Safeway Open, shooting a respectable 75-74, which beat Tour regulars Ollie Schneiderjans and Wesley Bryan . Tournament officials were hoping his presence would strengthen the gate, which was offered to victims of the devastating Napa Valley fire nearby.
Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned CBS Sports football Nostradamus, takes his shot in May, competing in the Byron Nelson Classic. This is his second start on the PGA Tour. Last March, he shot 77-82 and finished last with six strokes at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, an uncrowded PGA Tour event held opposite the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play.
Smoltz starts Friday at 12:40 a.m. Arizona time with Champions Tour veterans Jerry Kelly and Billy Andrade. At least he won’t have to worry about missing the cup. There are not any. All competitors play 54 holes.
“My simplest goal is to free the golf club and let it go” Smoltz told Tucson.com. “Easier said than done. These guys do it every day. They get to the first tee and they’re going to do it every time. That’s what I want to get closer to.”