"That was John Smoltz's big thing," said Wainwright, a 3.7 handicap who will take the mound for Game 5 of the World Series on Monday (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, 7:07 first pitch). "He always said if he never had golf, he would have never made it in baseball. First, it helped him escape from the field, but it also sharpened his mind.
"[That is] exactly right. In a blink of an eye in this game, as fast as it is, you can absolutely go out there and not focus for a couple of pitches and have a team score three runs off of you. Just the same way you can hit a ball 40 yards left out of bounds, and you're hitting three off the tee and all of a sudden you triple‑bogey when you were two‑under going into [hole No.] nine. I've been there and done both of those, unfortunately."
When Wainwright was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2011, he was able to get away from baseball early in the Cards' season to attend the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. He called it a learning experience.
"I wanted to follow golfers for extended amounts of time just to see if they let up," Wainwright said. "And every single shot, every single putt, was like it was the last putt to win the whole thing, or it was like the last shot to win the whole thing, or it was like the last pitch of the World Series. And that's the focus you have to have when you start. So it's very similar."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.