Smoltz struggles at ‘nightmare’ Pinetree
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
August 01, 2014 12:22 AM | 2297 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After his 80 Thursday, John Smoltz said his competitive golf days may be limited.<Br>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
After his 80 Thursday, John Smoltz said his competitive golf days may be limited.
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
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KENNESAW — Last weekend, former Atlanta Braves great John Smoltz watched his manager and two former teammates get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But on Thursday, the former All-Star and Cy Young Award winner was just one of the guys taking part in the first round of the Georgia Open at Pinetree Country Club.

Smoltz may have delivered his best stuff to batters when he was on the mound, but it was the course at Pinetree that reciprocated his dominance, leaving Smoltz at 8-over par 80 and tied for 114th among the 142 players who finished their rounds.

“They re-did it,” Smoltz said of the course. “It’s a difficult putting nightmare. You have to get a little lucky with some misreads that go in, because I certainly can’t read them. You can put together some good numbers, though, if you hit them in the right place, so, (today), I’m going to go for that 2- or 4-under.”

After today’s round, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties.

Smoltz’s round wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the time he spent in Cooperstown to witness former Braves manager Bobby Cox and fellow aces Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux get inducted into the Hall.

“It was fantastic,” Smoltz said. “I was so glad to go. I was going to go regardless, but I had to work for the (MLB Network), and I got a first-hand seat of something I had never been a part of.

“I had never been to the Hall of Fame. I had never seen the insides of it, and to see my teammates and my manager go in — I smiled the whole day.”

Smoltz could be smiling again a year from now, as he’ll be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He’ll be joining fellow first-timers Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, as well as holdover Craig Biggio, who missed a place in the 2014 class by only two votes.

When it comes to the possibility of his own induction, Smoltz doesn’t give it much thought.

“The process is where everybody’s talking about it,” he said. “I’ve never consumed myself thinking about the Hall of Fame. I know my name is going to come up, and we’ll see. I won’t spend the next five months trying to figure out what they’re going to vote or how they’re going to vote. The fact I’m even mentioned in next year’s class is pretty humbling and pretty incredible.”

Golf has been a humbling game for Smoltz lately. He entered the Georgia Open as a professional and once had hopes of joining the Champions Tour. However, an injury to his non-pitching shoulder, which has already required two surgeries, has derailed the right-hander’s plans for a professional golfing career.

“About three or four years ago, (the Champions Tour) was my goal,” Smoltz said, “but then, when the shoulder gave out, there’s just no way. If I can just get it strong enough to play for the next 15 years, then that’s all I want to be able to do.”

Paired with Pinetree golf pro Rob Williams and member Brian Katrek, Smoltz shot 5-over through his first nine holes, including a double-bogey on the par-5 ninth. He birdied the par-5 11th, but gave it right back with a double-bogey on 12. He finished the round with three bogeys and a birdie on 16.

Smoltz said the Georgia Open will likely his final competitive golf event for a while.

“I’m going to shut ’er down after this, probably after (today),” he said. “I’m going to try and find out what I can do to get (the shoulder) stronger. It just fatigues out. There’s just no way to play three, four, five days in a row, and (Wednesday), I did myself in by playing too many practice holes to get ready for (Thursday).”
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