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Smoltz on Senior Open: 'Won't be my last time'

MLB.com @mlbbowman

If John Smoltz bounces back like he so often did when introduced to new experiences during his Hall of Fame baseball career, the former pitcher is going to have some fun in the second round of the U.S. Senior Open.

Smoltz has crossed an item off his bucket list after spending this week playing alongside legendary golf figures who have graciously welcomed him into their world. But his highly competitive nature tested his emotions as he carded a 15-over 85 during the first round of this major at Colorado Springs' Broadmoor Golf Club.

If John Smoltz bounces back like he so often did when introduced to new experiences during his Hall of Fame baseball career, the former pitcher is going to have some fun in the second round of the U.S. Senior Open.

Smoltz has crossed an item off his bucket list after spending this week playing alongside legendary golf figures who have graciously welcomed him into their world. But his highly competitive nature tested his emotions as he carded a 15-over 85 during the first round of this major at Colorado Springs' Broadmoor Golf Club.

"I just wanted it to be more of an experience," Smoltz said. "I didn't have a challenging bogey putt. They were all tap-ins. I knew I wasn't ready for this challenge. But this won't be my last time."

Smoltz's opening-round score erased any realistic hope he had to qualify for the final two rounds. Still, the MLB Network analyst is looking forward to making the most of the chance to redeem himself during Friday's second round.

Tweet from @MLBPAA: ���Why not pursue your dreams? This is a secondary dream that I���m going to get a chance to be a part of.��� -John Smoltz @USGA #USSeniorOpen pic.twitter.com/tJCOglEiNF

"Everybody who I've played with has been great," Smoltz said. "I've enjoyed it. It wasn't enjoyable shooting 85 today. But I'll go out there tomorrow and shoot in the 70s."

Smoltz shot 73 during Tuesday's practice round, and he followed that up with an 85 during Wednesday's practice round. The course, which allowed just one player to shoot better than 2-under on Thursday, has served as a challenge. But so, too, has the fatigue Smoltz has dealt with from the effects of the Rocky Mountain altitude and the hectic travel schedule he has maintained while handling his MLB Network responsibilities.

"After Wednesday's [practice] round, I sent Lee Janzen a text that said, 'I think I was an athlete at some point,'" Smoltz said. "I've been home [in Atlanta] for a total of four days since I qualified [on May 31]. I've taken my clubs everywhere, and I've played whenever I've had a chance. But I wasn't as prepared as I needed to be."

As Smoltz aims to finish this year's tournament strong and begin bidding to qualify again next year, he'll channel that same competitiveness that drove him in 1991, when he exited July with a 5.47 ERA, and then produced a dominant second half that earned him the chance to deliver seven scoreless innings in Game 7 of that year's World Series.

As he battled back from Tommy John surgery and experienced his first full season as the Braves' closer in 2002, Smoltz allowed eight earned runs in his second appearance but exited the season with what was then a National League-record 55 saves.

"All the players have been great, and the gallery has been great," Smoltz said. "I've had fun signing for the fans. This is something I'll never regret."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves