Cameron Smith Issued 2-Stroke Penalty Before FedEx St. Jude Final Round
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith.
The timing and circumstances around Cameron Smith’s Sunday penalty were bizarre.
Smith woke up on Sunday around +400 to win the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first of three playoff events on the PGA TOUR calendar. The Aussie was two strokes behind leader J.J. Spaun, who was at 13-under par.
Then, about 25 minutes before Smith was set to tee off at TPC Southwind, his tournament outlook changed significantly. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an “improper drop” that took place almost 24 hours ago during Saturday’s third round.
If Smith was to win the St. Jude on Sunday, he would leap over Scottie Scheffler and become the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Here is the official statement from the PGA TOUR, a long time after the incident, on the two-stroke penalty:
Statement on Cameron Smith ruling at FedEx St. Jude Championship pic.twitter.com/15P5i2FxM3
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) August 14, 2022
On the par-3 fourth hole, Smith’s tee shot bounced in the short grass next to the green and into the water. He played his third shot from on the red line that indicated the out of bounds on the hole, which is illegal. Neither he or playing partner Ryan Palmer noticed the error or reported it.
The impact of the penalty is massive from both betting and DFS perspectives.
Spaun and Sepp Straka (12-under) sat atop the leaderboard at Nos. 1 and 2, but there were plenty of big names right below them at 11-under par entering Sunday. Most noteworthy were Smith and Will Zalatoris, both of whom were right around that +400 number to win the tournament.
The news of Smith’s penalty moved him down to +1000 at FanDuel.
It’s also massive in the props market. Smith entered the day tied for third, but losing two strokes puts him at T14 before he teed off.
Before the tournament, Smith received 5% of tickets and handle at BetMGM. That was the fifth-highest ticket number and seventh-most of the handle.
Penalties like this are rare. It’s not every week that a player is docked strokes, especially for something like improper placement of a ball.
The timing and victim are peculiar, as well. Before the tournament, a report from England surfaced that Cameron Smith was going to leave the PGA TOUR after the FedEx Cup was decided in two weeks at the Tour Championship. The plan, reportedly, is to play the Presidents Cup against the United States in September before taking his talents to the Saudi Arabia government-funded tour that is faced by fellow Aussie Greg Norman.
Zalatoris became the lone betting favorite at +310, according to FanDuel, after the announcement. Spaun, meanwhile, moved to +500, and Straka +700, as of 1:24 p.m. ET.
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