McGwire Addicted to Golf


BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- How much does former St. Louis Cardinals baseball great Mark McGwire love golf? So much that he quit baseball his sophomore year in high school, opting for the links.
'If golf was as cool as it is today, I may have never played baseball,' McGwire said during Tuesday's media day for the 102nd annual Western Amateur being held at the Point O'Woods Golf & Country Club.
McGwire, a scratch golfer who won the 2003 ADT Skills Challenge against some top name professionals, received an exemption from the Western Golf Association to play against some of the top amateur golfers in the world.
The man who belted 70 homers in 1998 and ended his Major League career with 583, currently has one goal in golf.
'I want to just try and be the best amateur I can,' the 40-year-old said. 'Just getting out there and competing is a thrill. I'm just hoping to be here on Friday [by making the 36-hole cut], that would be phenomenal.
'But these kids are studs, and they're the future of the game.'
The grueling Western Amateur format features 72 holes of medal play Wednesday through Friday to determine the 16 golfers for match play on Saturday and Sunday. The eventual winner could play 144 holes in five days.
McGwire said he's been golfing since he was a child, except for the last seven years of his baseball career.
'I started golf when I was five years old,' he added. 'It's just an awesome sport.'
Concerning his game, McGwire quipped: 'I'm pretty good at everything, but I'm not great at any one thing.' He added his drives are 'in the 300s' but after a practice round at the Point on Monday he said: 'I'll probably be using my 3-wood and 4-iron a lot off the tee.'
McGwire said baseball and golf have a lot of similarities.
'I was a low ball hitter and maybe that's helped me in golf,' he explained. 'But golf can expose you in a heart beat. In baseball you could make a mistake and still get a single.'
McGwire went on to say he still thinks hitting a home run is the toughest thing to do, 'but golf is a close second.'
'Right now I'm so addicted to [golf] it's a joke,' admitted McGwire, who failed to qualify for both the California and Southern California Amateurs this summer. He finished 24th in the recent Celebrity Pro-Am event at Lake Tahoe.
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