John Smoltz was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, a go-to guy for the Atlanta Braves for most of two decades. But as he found out on Monday, the little white ball doesn't much care who you are. It'll go where it likes.
Smoltz, who's basically-but-not-officially retired from baseball, was attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach. Playing in front of a gallery of about 30 fans at the Marietta Country Club, Smoltz turned in a round that was decent, but nowhere near good enough to advance to the next round of qualifying.
Smoltz's 6-over 76 was six shots too many to advance. His game, solid across the board off the tee, had one major flaw: Putting. Smoltz had trouble all day on the greens, at one point missing a 2-footer. (His line afterward: "That's what happens when you don't putt gimmes.") Still, he ended well, dropping a 20-footer on his final hole to save par.
It wasn't like Smoltz expected to make the cut. He put his own odds at 20-1. But he didn't want to embarrass himself, and at least in this round, he was no Jerry Rice. (Considering Smoltz wore #29, shooting his jersey number, as Rice attempted, is pretty unlikely.)
No word on when Smoltz plans to play next, though he's dueling fellow former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine in the final episode of Donald Trump's Golf Channel reality series.