John Smoltz eager for celebrity golf event

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
12:00
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SmoltzChris Condon/Getty ImagesPitching great John Smoltz is one of the favorites at this weekend's American Century Championship.
Baseball great John Smoltz is trying to temper his own expectations, but he really wants to win this weekend's 23rd annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.

"This is going to be the greatest week of my life!" said Smoltz, who won the 1996 Cy Young Award and is currently a broadcaster for the MLB Network. "Of course I want to win it. And I think it's very attainable."

More than 75 celebrities, including Tony Romo (considered the favorite), Charles Barkley, Jerry Rice, past champs Billy Joe Tolliver, Jack Wagner and Rick Rhoden will compete for the record purse of $600,000. The made-for-TV event in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., will be broadcast by NBC.

This is Smoltz's third year at the tournament, and he said he's learned a thing or two. He finished ninth last year and second two years ago.

"When you start thinking about the environment you're in and you start thinking about the other people, you're in trouble. I studied the mistakes I made the first two years and now I'm ready," Smoltz said. "It's all about how you get it on the hole. It doesn't have to be pretty."

Smoltz said he thinks if he tried as a kid, he might have been able to turn pro as a golfer instead of baseball pitcher.

"But it wasn't my passion," said Smoltz, who put the phone down to hit his next practice shot. "I pursued my dream of playing baseball, and I did everything I set out to do. Now this is all about having fun."

And Smoltz, 45, isn't ruling out playing on the Champions Tour. His best round ever was 63 in Florida, and he is shooting mostly 70-74s these days.

"I'd really like to play in a couple of events. I'm not talking full time. I'm no way in their category of skills," Smoltz said. "I just know that it's all about creating your shots."

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