Cameron Smith docked two strokes by PGA officials before final round of $2.7m FedEx Championship
Many will claim the Aussie was penalised because he may soon be off to LIV Golf.
Heading into his final round of the FedEx Championship, Open champion Cameron Smith was two strokes off the lead and within touching distance of two big accolades.
The Australian, who powered past Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland to win The Open, last month, stands to win $2.7 million and ascend to world number one if he wins the FedEx 'St Jude Championship'.
He finished out his third round with what he believed to be a round of 67 to go -11, sitting two strokes back from JJ Spaun. Overnight, though, PGA officials were alerted to where and how Smith had played his third shot on a par three hole that he initially bogeyed.
Smith found the water on his fourth hole of that third round and dropped the ball in the relief area before almost holing out for par. He eventually tapped in for bogey before picking up four strokes on his way home.
On closer inspection, though, it was deemed that Smith had played his ball on the red line near the water, and not in front of it. As it stands in the rule-book, the ball can be dropped two club lengths from the relief line. Smith had twice dropped the ball from such as distance but, because of the green-side slope, it had rolled back.
After his second drop attempt, he went ahead with his chip but the overnight ruling was that Smith had made an error and, as a result, would be penalised two strokes. As a result, he started his final round four strokes off the lead. A PGA official told NBC:
"He obviously thought it was okay to play it from that position, but it turns out he was not. The rules state he must take complete relief."
Cameron Smith has been penalized two strokes for improper placement of the ball in the penalty area in Round 3.
He now begins the final round trailing by four.
More on the penalty ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/a1wr2Bqv9R
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 14, 2022
Statement on Cameron Smith ruling at FedEx St. Jude Championship pic.twitter.com/15P5i2FxM3
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) August 14, 2022
Cameron Smith on LIV Golf links
Some golf fans are now claiming Cameron Smith is being punished by the PGA after numerous reports and claims he is about to jump ship to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
After dismissing the timing of LIV Golf questions, after his Open win, the Australian spoke a bit more on it before the FedEx Championship. He told reporters:
"My goal here is to win the FedEx Cup play-offs. That's all I’m here for.
"If there’s something I need to say regarding the PGA Tour or LIV, it will come from Cameron Smith, not [fellow Australian pro] Cameron Percy. I’m a man of my word and whenever you guys need to know anything it will be said by me."
Smith got his final round off to a decent start with an early birdie, but he was still four strokes back due to Will Zalatoris going low over his first four holes.
If Smith were to win and go to LIV Golf as world number one, it would be a massive boon for a breakaway series that often fills its' fields with fringe golfers, young prospects and players with their best competitive days behind them.