Smoltz, Romo set for local qualifiers

John Smoltz schooled the likes of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for years, more recently taking first-hand pointers from Tiger Woods.

But Smoltz, the future Hall of Fame pitcher, will test his genuine golf mettle next week, when he tries to qualify for the U.S. Open.

He's among a handful of celebrity athletes entered to play 18 holes in local qualifiers at 111 courses beginning next Monday.

"This is all about experiencing it more than anything," Smoltz, 42, told USGA.org, the website of the national governing body. "I haven't beat a bunch of balls. I am not trying to do anything heroic other than to see what it's like."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has become a perennial entrant, never advancing past the local stage. He'll be trying to make the leap again this year.

"It takes time to do anything of this kind of nature," said Smoltz, who has all but retired after a season split in 2009 with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals following 20 years with the Atlanta Braves. "You've got to get accustomed to it. As much as I do [love to compete], I'll just be playing a regular round of golf. Of course I'm going to be in a little different mode. I understand the possibilities. I am just looking forward to doing it because I finally can."

Also included among 9,052 golfers who filed entries with the long-shot hopes of advancing to the U.S. Open, set for June 17-20 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, are:

Jacksonville Jaguars placekicker Josh Scobee
Minnesota Vikings placekicker Ryan Longwell
• Former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver
• Former MLB pitcher Shane Rawley
• Former NHL and 2002 Olympic silver medalist goalie Mike Dunham.

Should they advance, they would gain berths in 36-hole sectional qualifying played at 13 sites on June 7 (two sites in Japan and England on May 24).

Scobee will tee off next Monday at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville for the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open.

"I've never really played in any kind of tournament golf," Scobee said Sunday at Jaguars minicamp, according to The Florida Times-Union. "I didn't play golf in high school or college so this'll be my first real tournament experience and I'm pretty excited about it. I'll have some butterflies, but it won't be anything like football butterflies. It'll be a little different.

"It will be worse, but it'll be a lot of fun."

Scobee, who wants a golf job once his NFL career is over, has played several times the last few weeks in hopes of honing his game.

Coach Jack Del Rio offered some advice Monday, saying, "Hit it straight, and when he comes to kick field goals, kick those straight. That's what I'm looking for."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.