Cam Smith during the FedEx St. Jude Championship PGA Tour event Sunday. Aug 14, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Cam Smith keeps an eye on his putt during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship golf tournament at TPC Southwind. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a lot of talk about Australian golfer, current world No. 2, and recent British Open champion Cam Smith possibly leaving the PGA Tour for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series. That talk was enhanced by Smith refusing to address the topic at a press conference ahead of this weekend’s first FedEx Cup Playoffs event (the FedEx St. Jude Championship) in Memphis, and by an unusual on-course controversy between him and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler Saturday, where Scheffler walked directly in front of Smith during Smith’s attempt to line up a putt. And on Sunday, something else happened that bolstered the Smith-to-LIV talk, with the PGA Tour handing Smith (seen above watching a putt Sunday) a two-stroke penalty before his final round for playing the ball from the wrong place when he was in the penalty area. Here’s the Tour statement on that penalty:

“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). Smith’s score has been adjusted and he will begin the final round at 201 (-9).”

The tour put out that statement on Twitter Sunday. Here’s the play in question:

Tour chief referee Gary Young cited Smith’s own comments as a determining factor here. Here’s what he said, via Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard:

But this led to a lot of people saying this might be yet more incentive for Smith to leave for LIV Golf:

Others suggested the Tour may be keeping an even closer eye than usual on Smith given the LIV talk around him, and questioned non-rulings around other golfers’ drops:

Many others complained about the decision to announce this penalty a day later, especially with possible impacts there for betting and daily fantasy:

And some noted that while there may be nothing actually wrong here, the timing of it draws a lot more questions than it would otherwise:

Smith finished even on the day, which had him tied for 13th with a 271 overall.

[For The Win]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.