VALDOSTA, Ga. – John Smoltz had a lot tougher time on the golf course than he did on the mound.
The former Atlanta Braves pitcher struggled in his debut on the Nationwide Tour, completing a 12-over 84 Friday that left him in last place after the opening round of the South Georgia Classic.
“Well, I’m disappointed. Like anyone would be,” Smoltz wrote in his blog on http://www.pgatour.com. “I don’t think I’ve shot 84 in the last five months, or maybe even the last five years.”
Smoltz started on Thursday and got in only seven holes because of stormy weather. He never found his swing at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club, resigning himself to missing the cut but hoping he could put up a decent score in the second round Saturday.
“I’m playing the weekend. It’s a different way than I was hoping for, but I’m playing on the weekend,” he said.
The 43-year-old Smoltz never found the range with his approach shots, and missed numerous putts inside 10 feet to save par. He conceded that going through two long delays on the first day hurt his chances of putting up a decent score.
“I never got in a rhythm,” said Smoltz, who played on a sponsor exemption. “I’m not used to a lot of things out here, but that’s what’s neat about a tournament like this. The delays are not something you practice for, but you have to get used to it. You don’t want to shoot the score I shot, but certainly, I’ll be better for it tomorrow.”
He headed off to another course in the Valdosta area to get in some additional swings before nightfall Friday.
“Sitting on this round would be no good,” Smoltz wrote. “I’m going to work on releasing the clubhead and make a hand adjustment. I felt like I was lagging behind the club and that’s not going to get it done. I’ll have a different mental picture when I arrive (Saturday).”
Smoltz spent nearly his entire career with the Braves, becoming the only pitcher in major league history to post 200 wins and 150 saves. He struggled through the 2009 season with Boston and St. Louis before moving into broadcasting.