John Smoltz currently makes his living as Fox’s lead MLB color analyst, but he’s also an avid golfer. This year he’ll be taking his talents to the PGA Tour Champions circuit (formerly the Senior Tour), having been gifted sponsor’s exemptions into three events.
Smoltz qualified for last year’s U.S. Senior Open, and most recently won the celebrity contest at the Diamond Resorts Classic, and his first Champions Tour start is coming up in early March.
From the PGA Tour:
The 51-year-old will begin at the Cologuard Classic (March 1-3) in Tucson, Arizona, within driving distance of the Major League Baseball Spring Training Cactus League. The former Atlanta Braves pitcher will make his second start in metro-Atlanta at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic (April 19-21), and his third start will be in Madison, Wisconsin, at the American Family Insurance Championship (June 21-23).
“I got some calls with these opportunities, looked at my schedule, and besides being super excited, looked at how I could fit it in. That is exactly what has worked out,” Smoltz said. “I have a lot of guys that I know, a lot of friends on the TOUR, and I have the upmost respect for every single one of them that have played this game their whole career. I just look forward to the challenge.”
Smoltz is still a few tiers below even the best Champions Tour players, as we saw at the Senior Open last year when he shot 85-77 to miss the cut by 14 strokes.
But Smoltz is certainly a good player, and worse players have gotten sponsor’s exemptions to bigger events. It’s a way for tournaments that would otherwise have a lower profile to stand out a bit and generate headlines, and it’s been an ongoing practice for a while, most recently and visibly when Steph Curry entered a Web.com Tour event (in which he acquitted himself well, for one round.)
It’s harmless overall, even if a late-stage career change probably isn’t coming any time soon.