John Smoltz Is Betting on Himself at American Century Championship — Literally


David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: John Smoltz

There’s a time and place when all of us bet on ourselves, confident enough in our abilities that we’re willing to take a gamble.

For former MLB pitcher John Smoltz, that time and place was this week in Lake Tahoe — and he took the aphorism literally.

Competing in the American Century Championship, an annual golf tournament featuring a who’s who of athletes and celebrities of varying talent levels in the game, Smoltz showed up and saw that he was 30/1 in at least one sportsbook.

Now, even though Smoltz is a Hall of Famer who played 22 seasons and recorded more than 3,000 strikeouts, he’s known almost as much for his post-career as a proficient golfer, one who’s tried to compete at the professional level.

In fact, Tiger Woods, a frequent playing partner of Smoltz, has called him “the best golfer outside of the PGA TOUR” that he’s ever seen.

He qualified for the U.S. Senior Open two years ago and has competed in four other events on the PGA TOUR Champions circuit, so yeah, he’s got plenty of game.

All of which is why he was shocked when he showed up this week and saw those odds next to his name.

“They made a big mistake on my odds,” Smoltz told Michael Collins and Pat Perez on SiriusXM PGA TOUR’s “Out of Bounds” show Tuesday night. “I don’t know who set the odds, but I opened at 30/1 — and I couldn’t get to the place fast enough to put some money down on me.”

Tony Romo, who is the two-time defending champion of the event after three consecutive Mark Mulder victories, has been installed as the favorite.

Smoltz continued: “I thought, they had to have left the zero off. That had to be a mistake. Well, it wasn’t a mistake. It was 30/1, then it went to 14/1, then it went to 8/1 and now it’s gone down from there, because somebody that I know went and bet on it.”

He will begin the tourney alongside playing partners Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux in the 12:25 p.m. (local) tee time Friday afternoon.

And if Smoltz happens to win this week, well, “someone he knows” will be very, very happy.

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