John Smoltz finished his PGA Tour Champions debut Sunday 1-over 220 at the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Ariz. after struggling on the ninth and 18th holes through the first two rounds.
On Sunday, Smoltz redeemed himself, making par on both. When he spoke to media after the final round, the eight-time MLB All-Star couldn’t refrain from bragging on the improvement.
“Those holes have got me by the throat,” he said. “I somehow mustered a par on 18, I somehow mustered a par on nine . . . I’m 1-over for the tournament, but those two holes I was 5-over. So that’s a big turnaround when you’re talking about just bogeying them and that’s a three-shot difference.”
Smoltz recorded two birdies in the final round at the Omni Tucson National Catalina Course, one on the par-4 No. 11- his second hole of the day- and another on the par-4 3rd to stay 2-under until two holes later. The Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher then recorded his third double-bogey of the tournament. Smoltz finished the final round even-par 73.
The 51-year-old Smoltz, best known for his 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, made par on 38-of-54 holes over the weekend, but clearly struggled on the ninth and 18th holes through the first and second rounds. Entering Sunday, Smoltz was 5-over on those two holes alone.
Smoltz was under par for most of the first round, recording birdies on three of the first eight holes, but struggled to keep up the momentum as the round progressed. On Friday, Smoltz was 1-under through 14 holes until he notched a double-bogie on the 15th. He ended the first round even-par 73.
The struggles late in the round continued through Saturday when Smoltz was 1-under through 17 holes, but the 18th hole foiled the 1995 World Series champion again. Smoltz recorded a double-bogey on the second round’s final hole and finished 1-over 74.
“I really thought I was coming in here, felt like I could play under par and that I could play this golf course… I was under par both days all the way until the end,” Smoltz said after the second round. “It’s much easier closing baseball games than it’s been closing out the golf tournament.”
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When asked how he can improve for the next tournament after the final round concluded, Smoltz said he needs to get in better shape.
“I got a little fatigued again,” Smoltz said. “A lot of golf in this last 12 days and that’s just the way it’s got to be for me because my schedule doesn’t allow me to lead up any other way. So I work for a week and then I’ll play for a week. So I will go to work on some physical things again in the meantime, and I’ve got to make sure that every single shot has trust instead of some had hope.”