Cameron Smith’s world number one bid hit by two-shot penalty in Memphis

·2 min read

Cameron Smith’s bid to win the FedEx St Jude Championship and become world number one suffered a sizeable blow before he teed off in the final round.

Smith seemingly carded a third round of 67 at TPC Southwind to lie two shots behind leader JJ Spaun, only to be assessed a two-shot penalty on Sunday for playing from the wrong place on the fourth hole in round three.

Footage posted on social media showed that Smith’s ball was on the red line marking the penalty area on the par three after he had taken a drop.

A statement from the PGA Tour read: “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 ball from the wrong place) on hole number four during the third round as he was operating under rule 17.1 (when ball is in penalty area).

“Smith’s score has been adjusted and he will begin the final round at 201 (-9). Final-round pairings will not be adjusted.”

Smith, who won the Players Championship in March and his first major title in the 150th Open at St Andrews, will replace Scottie Scheffler at the top of the world rankings if he can overturn a four-shot deficit to win in Memphis.

PGA Tour referee Gary Young said officials initially had “such a quick view” of Smith’s drop that they felt it was “rudimentary” and the Australian was comfortable he was playing from the correct place.

It was only when an official saw the broadcast again on Saturday evening that he raised the issue and Young spoke to Smith when he arrived at the course on Sunday.

“I thought it was simply going to be a situation where I asked Cam the question and he was going to tell me that he was comfortable that his ball was outside  the penalty area,” Young said.

“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.

“His reaction was very calm, very matter of fact. He knew he had made a mistake. He just accepted the two-stroke penalty and he very calmly left the office and he’s just going about his business for the day.”