Eight-time MLB All-Star John Smoltz made headlines last year when he attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open. His 'big league' dreams didn’t come true in 2010 on the course after a 76 resulted in six shots too many to advance to Sectional Qualifying.
But this year he’s back on the tee with a spot in this week’s NationwideTour event, the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, Ga.
The 43-year-old plays to a plus-two handicap and will be the 10th former professional athlete to compete in a Nationwide Tour event. Two weeks ago NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice hosted and competed in the Fresh Express Classic where he shot 81-82 to miss the cut and tie for last in the field. Smoltz says his goals are to see how he and his body react during tour-level competition, and to demonstrate respect for the game and the players on the Nationwide Tour.
In a field of 156 professionals, the low 60 players (and ties) will make the 36-hole cut, which last year fell at 1-over.
Smoltz will tee off alongside Andrew Giuliani, past contestant on Golf Channel’s 'Big Break' and son of the former New York City mayor, and Jason Enloe at 9:05 a.m. ET Thursday and 2:15 p.m. ET on Friday.
Chad Smith, a former Valdosta State University golfer who works at Kinderlou Forest GC – site of the event – and won a collegiate tournament there, will caddie for Smoltz.