The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions features all of the winners from the previous year’s LPGA Tour schedule. The victors team up with two pro-am partners, who range from executives to Hall of Famers, as they kick off the 2019 LPGA Tour campaign.
Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji earned the first-round co-lead with matching 6-under par 65s, but it was Lexi Thompson’s pro-am partner who stole the show on the first day at the Four Season Golf & Sports Club Orlando.
John Smoltz, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, is no slouch. In fact, the world-class hurler has morphed into an elite golfer in his retirement from baseball, qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Senior Open.
However, it wasn’t Smoltz’s Hall of Fame credentials or his stellar golf game that was turning heads on Thursday, it was his standalone putter.
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) January 17, 2019
The Bloodline putter utilizes technology that includes an “ultra-light shaft” and an “ultra-low balance point,” which enables the club to stand by itself, allowing the player to check their alignment from behind.
“People are always looking to see where (you’re aimed) to get it on line,” Smoltz said, via Golfweek.com’s Beth Ann Nichols. “Because honestly if you can trust the line – you’re not always going to have the right line – but if you can trust it, that’s half the battle.
“Everybody I play with says ‘that’s illegal.’ I make a lot of putts in casual games.”
The Bloodline putter is USGA approved and has been put into play on many major Tours around the world, most notably by Ernie Els.
The putter worked well for Smoltz during the first round. He shot a 2-over par 73 to earn 34 points in the celebrity Stableford scoring format. He trails first-round leader Mardy Fish, who shot a 3-under par 68, by five points.