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John Smoltz on qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open, playing matches with Tiger Woods, and how golf affected his free agency

June 06, 2018

Icon Sportswire

As a professional athlete, few have faced -- and succeeded -- under pressure like John Smoltz. The Hall-of-Fame pitcher raised his game when the stakes were the highest, posting an absurd 15-4 postseason record while wielding a scant 2.67 ERA. Smoltz took the mound in three playoff Game 7s, and yet, it was a recent three-hole playoff on the golf course at a U.S. Senior Open qualifier that had him feeling nerves like never before.

"There's things that I've been through in golf that baseball couldn't even prepare me for," Smoltz said. "You'd think that pitching three seventh games would prepare you for any kind of unnerving or nervous moments, but it was nothing like what I went through."

Ultimately, Smoltz made it through this latest sports battle, earning a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, which will be played June 28-July 1 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. And now Smoltz will take a break from his job as a TV analyst for MLB Network and Fox to tee it up in his first major. Although, with Fox broadcasting the event, Smoltz says he could be involved with the coverage. Regardless, the 51-year-old is pumped about getting this unexpected opportunity at competing on a big stage again.

"I'm pinching myself every time I wake up," Smoltz said.

Smoltz joined this week's Golf Digest Podcast to discuss that crazy day of qualifying, his intense matches with Tiger Woods through the years, a prescient prediction he made to Joe Buck, and how golf played a role in his free agency. We also talked some baseball, ranging from his Hall-of-Fame induction to his toughest loss and most surprising win. Please have a listen: