We learned last week that former pitching great John Smoltz was going to play in a local qualifier in hopes of advancing to play in one of golf’s biggest tournaments: the U.S. Open.
Unfortunately, we find out today that Smoltz, despite carrying a 2-handicap, came up short. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
He didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t make it, either. His 6-over 76 was six shots away from contention. Smoltz didn’t play poorly, but he failed to hit his approach shots close enough to give himself a chance to make birdies.
The real difference came on the greens, where Smoltz had trouble getting anything to drop. After missing a two-footer on his 11th hole, he quipped, “That’s what happens when you don’t putt gimmes.” He later predicted a putter change, saying he’d probably make a call to the bullpen for one of the 25 different putters he owns.
Despite his putting woes, Smoltz showed he still had the ability to close the deal when he banged in a 20-footer to save par on the final hole, a conclusion that drew applause from the 100 or more who gathered there to watch.
His dream temporarily dashed, Smoltz will return to broadcasting games for MLB and the Turner Network, and presumably, since he has yet to retire, searching for a team. Smoltz has said he would like to play on the Champions Tour when he becomes eligible – by turning 50 – in 2017. With seven years to practice, and Smoltz’s competitive fire, don’t be surprised if it happens.
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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.