Celebrity Golfers
April 30, 2020

John Smoltz fondly recalls an all-time 18th hole collapse by an Atlanta Braves teammate

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Chris Condon

Since retiring from baseball, John Smoltz has established himself as a legit threat on the golf course. Aside from cleaning up on the celebrity circuit, the MLB Hall-of-Famer has qualified for a U.S. Senior Open and played in four PGA Tour Champions events, shooting scores of 74 or better in eight of 12 rounds. But his favorite golf story comes from his days playing for the Atlanta Braves. And it involves an astronomical score by one of his teammates.

Smoltz, now the lead baseball analyst for Fox Sports, regaled MLB.com's Mark Bowman with the tail of an epic collapse most golf fans aren't aware of. Move over, Jean van de Velde—the French golfer known for his meltdown at the 1999 British Open—and make room for a man who goes by the nickname "Frenchy," Jeff Francoeur.

As Smoltz tells it, Francoeur, trying to beat his older teammate for the first time in 2007, held a five-shot lead on the tee of the 18th hole at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Course and had even declared he was going to make laminated copies of the scorecard for all his teammates the following day after winning. He couldn't possibly blow a lead that big, right? Of course he could! That's the entire purpose of this post!

Long story short, Frenchy hit his first ball in the water on the closing par 5. Then after listening to Smoltz suggesting he re-tee instead of taking a drop for some reason, he lost three more golf balls before finally putting his ninth shot in play. Frenchy wound up carding a 14(!) while Smoltz made birdie. The five-shot deficit had been flipped into a five-shot win. On one hole.

“When we went in the clubhouse, he thought I was going to say a bunch of stuff,” Smoltz tells MLB.com. “I never said a word. But everywhere we went to golf after that, I told the cart girl, ‘No matter what he asks for, tell him it’s $14.’ When we had to get into a private club, I’d be the lead car and I told the [club pro], ‘Whenever [Francoeur] buzzes in, tell him the code is pound 14.’ Eventually after enough of this, Frenchy said, ‘Can you stop please?’”

Poor Frenchy.

Smoltz calls it his "favorite golf story to this day." And considering he's been a frequent golf partner with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan among others, that's saying something.


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