COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO | Nothing went right for John Smoltz on Thursday at the U.S. Senior Open.
Not even his shoes.
“Big rookie mistake,” Smoltz said. “I got nice-looking shoes and one day they’re going to be comfortable, but I broke them in out here. Live and learn.”
Smoltz, the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher who fulfilled a dream by qualifying for this tournament, limped around literally and figuratively on the way to a 15-over-par 85 on a warm day at the Broadmoor. He looked overwhelmed, usually hacking out of the sticky, thick rough and repeatedly misreading the complex greens that present players with a stern challenge.
He can pound it off the tee, but unfortunately it wasn’t going in the right direction.
The bottom line? The pros in between the ropes are pretty good, and they make it look easy. It makes what NBA player Steph Curry did last year on the Web.com Tour – barely missing the cut with two competitive rounds of 74 – that much more impressive.
“It just tells you, from an amateur standpoint, people sitting at home, I don’t know if you can tell how hard the course played, but you can tell how great these players are,” Smoltz said. “I mean, this is their livelihood. And I will have to do a lot of work on my game to get to the level I want to get to, that’s for sure.”
The round started with Smoltz missing a 4-foot par putt on No. 10 and continued in the wrong direction as he bogeyed his next three holes and then triple-bogeyed No. 15. He made only five pars.
He can take solace in that he isn’t in dead last. Rick Todd (86) and Stan Souza (88) had higher scores.
At day’s end, Smoltz felt humbled more by the conditions than the stage. He didn’t show many signs of nervousness while walking around with playing partners Jim McGovern and Bob Ford, talking to them about how taking batting practice led to shoulder problems that ended his baseball career and the thrill of qualifying for an event he has had on his radar for 20 years.
“You know, the thing I’m working on with my golf game is, I’m just being honest, I knew this course – I don’t have enough game for this course yet,” Smoltz said. “I don’t play enough. I was hoping to avoid some of those (trouble) areas so it didn’t expose it. But that’s what happens in the best tournament of the year.”
Still, he’s in the best tournament of the year. And no bad round can take that away.