Smoltz to play N’wide’s South Georgia Classic
Former major-league pitcher John Smoltz has accepted a sponsor exemption into the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic, to be played April 28-May 1 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga. It will be his first career start in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
Smoltz, who turned professional in 2010, previously attempted and failed to qualify for last year’s U.S. Open and Georgia Open. He finished second in his first appearance in the American Century Championship, a celebrity event in Lake Tahoe, Nev.
“I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Smoltz, 44, said Wednesday on Golf Channel. “I’m not looking to take anybody’s spot who is aspiring to be a Tour professional. I have a lot of respect for everybody who does what they do on the Nationwide Tour.
“I’m not afraid to fail but failure is right there. I know it’s not easy. I just want to see what it’s like. I want to know what my body feels like. I want to know if that tension creeps up. I just want to see what that’s like.”
Smoltz pitched in the majors for 22 seasons, most notably with the Atlanta Braves, with whom he won a World Series title in 1995. He is now a TV analyst for TBS Sports.
Smoltz is the second high-profile athlete to try the Nationwide Tour in the past year. Jerry Rice, a former Hall of Fame receiver, played two Nationwide events in 2010. He broke 80 only once and was disqualified for using a rangefinder. He recently announced that he would again host and play in the Fresh Express Classic near San Francisco.