Drama erupts after Cameron Smith caught in 'absurd' rules breach

·5-min read
Cameron Smith copped a two-shot penalty for an infringement during his third round. Pic: Getty/PGA Tour
Cameron Smith copped a two-shot penalty for an infringement during his third round. Pic: Getty/PGA Tour

The timing of a bizarre rules breach against Cameron Smith has come under fire from fans, going into the final round of the FedEx St Jude Championship at TPC Southwind.

Smith's hopes of winning the first event in the season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs were severely dented after he was hit with a two-shot penalty before the final round, for an infringement that occurred a day earlier.

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Instead of starting the final round two shots behind JJ Spaun, Smith began four strokes back at nine under in a tie for 14th.

The 28-year-old copped the retrospective two-stroke penalty for playing a ball from the wrong place on the fourth hole in round three.

After finding the water on the par-three, Smith took a drop and incorrectly played his third shot with his ball touching a hazard line.

Officials handed Smith the penalty after the world No.2 admitted that he wasn't aware he could not play the ball with it touching the red line.

Smith was only two shots off the lead and preparing to start his final round when he was informed about the penalty decision by PGA Tour rules official Gary Young.

“(Smith) dropped the ball in that area but it came back to rest against the line and it was at that point he he obviously thought it was okay to play it from that position,” Young said.

“You have to take complete relief from that penalty area.

The timing of the decision to hand Smith a two-shot penalty - more than the decision itself - left fans fuming on social media, with many insisting it should have happened during the Aussie's third round.

Young defended the timing of Smith's penalty after admitting that PGA Tour officials had originally overlooked the incident.

“We discussed (this) a little more this morning after someone else on the (rules) committee had seen the broadcast we decided to take a second look at it and should talk to Smith) himself," Young added.

“Cam was a complete gentleman, and he took it that way.

“He was completely calm through the whole process. Once he found out it was a two-stroke penalty, he just said to me, ‘The rules are the rules.’ And you know, in typical casual Cam fashion he just accepted it and left the office.”

Adam Scott on fire in the final round

Adam Scott briefly claimed the clubhouse lead after a four-under-par 66 vaulted him to 11-under, sealing his participation in the next event in the FedEx Cup playoffs - the BMW Championship

Smith, who won his first major championship at last month's 150th British Open at St Andrews, was hoping to replace Scottie Scheffler at the top of the rankings by winning the St Jude after the American missed the halfway cut.

Seen here, Adam Scott plays his shot from the seventh tee during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Adam Scott plays his shot from the seventh tee during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind. Pic: Getty

The Australian has been the focus of huge interest all week over reports - which he's chosen to avoid talking about - linking him as the latest player to join Saudi-funded LIV Golf after the FedEx Cup playoffs.

While Scott held the clubhouse lead for about half an hour after his final round, the former No.1 was eventually overtaken by Lucas Glover at 12 under, with several other players also out on the course in front of him.

Still, after starting the day in 77th spot on the FedExCup standings, Scott was projected to soar to 45th, ensuring his place in the 70-player BMW Championship.

with AAP

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