VALDOSTA, Ga. - The South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Co. announced today that former Atlanta Braves' pitcher John Smoltz has accepted a sponsor's exemption to compete in the Nationwide Tour event scheduled to be played April 25 - May 1 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.
Smoltz is a 22-year Major League Baseball veteran, having played for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. He holds the unique distinction of being an All-Star as both a starting pitcher and a closer. Additionally, he is the only pitcher in MLB history with 200 wins and 150 saves, and he is one of only two pitchers in MLB history to have a season with 20 wins and a season with 50 saves.
Smoltz made his intention to play in the South Georgia Classic known on Tuesday on Golf Channel's Morning Drive program. In doing so, he discussed his respect for the Nationwide Tour and its players. "I don't want to step on anyone's toes," Smoltz said. "I'm not looking to take anybody's spot who is aspiring to be a TOUR professional. I have a lot of respect for everybody who does what they do on the Nationwide Tour.
"I'm not afraid to fail but failure is right there," he added. "I know it's not easy. I just want to see what it's like. I want to know what my body feels like. I want to know if that tension creeps up. I just want to see what that's like."
Smoltz, who turned professional in 2010, was a participant in local qualifiers for the U.S. Open and the 2010 Georgia Open. He finished second last year in his first appearance at the American Century Championship, a celebrity event in Lake Tahoe, Nev. His South Georgia Classic appearance will be his first start in a PGA TOUR co-sanctioned event.
The Michigan native will join a strong field of 156 players competing for a purse of $625,000, with the winner receiving $112,500. In addition to past champions Bryan DeCorso and Ewan Porter, the field currently consists of four former Georgia Bulldog golfers: Justin Bolli, Paul Claxton, Erik Compton, and Brendon Todd.