Cameron Smith penalized two strokes for improper ball placement at FedEx St. Jude Championship

·3 min read

Cameron Smith was assessed a two-stroke penalty for "improper placement of the ball" while taking relief on the fourth hole Saturday during the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, the PGA Tour announced Sunday.

After the penalty, the British Open champion began the final round at 9-under, four shots behind leader J.J. Spaun.

"Prior to the start of the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Cameron Smith was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 14.7 (playing the ball from the wrong place) on Hole No. 4 during the third round where he was operating under Rule 17.1 (when ball was in penalty area)," the PGA Tour said in a statement. "Smith's score has been adjusted and he will begin the final round at 201 (-9)."

Golf Channel aired the shot on the tournament broadcast of the final round, showing Smith playing his ball on the red penalty line after a drop. Gary Young, a PGA Tour rules official who is the chief referee of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, said an on-site rules official noticed it while watching the re-broadcast Saturday night.

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Upon closer inspection, it was determined the ball was "really close to the line, if not touching the line, so it was worth asking the player," Young explained.

"The rules give the player, as long as the player shows reasonable judgment in determining whether the ball was in or out of the penalty area in this situation, with his own naked eye. I thought it was simply going to be a situation where I asked Cam the question and he was going to tell me he was comfortable his ball was outside the penalty area. When I asked him the question, unfortunately he said to me, ‘No the ball was definitely touching the line. So at that point, there’s no turning back. That was the moment I know the player has knowledge the ball is touching the line. He just simply didn’t understand the rule, that it requires the entire ball to be outside the penalty area and in his relief area.

“It looked like his ball was awfully close to the line, but we thought the player knew he couldn’t play a ball that wasn’t touching the penalty area. We decided to take a second look at it and we thought it was close enough,” to then ask Smith about it.

Cameron Smith tees off during the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Saturday.
Cameron Smith tees off during the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Saturday.

Smith “said my ball was definitely touching the line,” Young continued. “He wasn’t aware no portion of the ball could touch the penalty line.”

Smith was told of the penalty while preparing for the final round on the TPC Southwind driving range and was "completely calm throughout", Young said.

"Once (Cameron Smith) found out it was a two stroke penalty," Young said. "he said the rules are the rules."

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Cameron Smith penalized two strokes before FedEx St. Jude final round