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Kennelly emerges as Braves' best golfer


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After John Smoltz ended his long reign, Derek Lowe briefly took the honor of being the best golfer in the Braves' organization. Now it appears that distinction belongs to Minor League catcher Matt Kennelly, whose father is a pro golfing instructor in Australia.

"[Matt] is pretty good," Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy said. "We played yesterday, and there were a couple holes where he'd say, 'I'll fade it onto [this green],' or 'I'll draw it on here.' He's calling them and doing it. His second shot is impressive. He's on the green [in regulation] almost all the time. He knows what he's doing."

Kennelly will have a chance to test his skills and connect with a couple fellow Aussies on Sunday afternoon, when he and former Braves reliever Peter Moylan play a round with PGA Tour professional Nick O'Hearn at Orlando's famed Isleworth Golf Club. O'Hearn has claimed two match play victories against Tiger Woods.

"A few Aussies out there," Kennelly said. "It could be interesting."

While he has a 3-handicap, Kennelly doesn't see a professional golf career in his future if baseball doesn't work out.

"I didn't play [golf] enough," Kennelly said. "I was always playing baseball or Australian football five or six days a week. [Golf] is more just a hobby for me. I pick my dad's brain every now and again. I still have never beat him. Maybe when he gets a little bit older, I'll beat him." Kennelly signed with the Braves in 2007 and remained in the organization until being released during the early portion of the 2013 season. After spending much of last year playing for the Reds at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he rejoined the Braves in November with the hope of gaining a roster spot with Double-A Mississippi or Triple-A Gwinnett.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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