As usual, social media is wrong with Cameron Smith’s decision

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Not that the wasteland that is social media should be any kind of guide – let’s face it, there’s no place in this hellish landscape for anything approaching educated or nuanced conversation – but vitriol Created by Cameron Smith’s internet literacy rules violation at FedEx St. Jude Championship requires some maintenance.

The rules of golf can be confusing and overly complicated, but the flurry of incorrect and distorted opinions on Smith’s two-stroke penalty for playing a shot from a hazard needs treatment:

“The Red [hazard] the line is pretty dumb to begin with. Guys [already] take a drop. Garbage like this and the DJ penalty at the 2010 PGA Championship just makes me want to make LIV succeed!”

Not exactly sure of the logic in the text of the tweet above, but Smith’s penalty – like all penalties – is based on the Rules of Golf, which are written and maintained by the USGA and R&A, not the PGA Round.

BY Rex Hoggard

After starting the day at 11 under and two shots off the lead, Smith was told he was four behind after breaking rule 14.7.

In fact, many in that same Twitter thread pointed out that former longtime Tour rules manager Slugger White is now LIV Golf’s vice president of rules and competition management, and the league supported by Saudi Arabia also follows the same rules of golf.

There are a lot of problems with the Rules of Golf, but they have nothing to do with the PGA Tour.

“I think they need unlimited time to deal with a violation. Even in 5-10 years they could catch a mistake and disqualify a player for not handling it properly and ask for the award back. The round was over, it was not managed.

Also wrong. While Tour officials regularly review possible violations and return the next day to clarify matters, as they did with Smith, when the final putt falls and a winner is crowned, the competition is over. There is no going back at this point.

“Would they have done that to Rory or JT if they were in the running?” Absolutely out of the question. PGA is officially a joke.

We know conspiracy theories range from the absurd to just a troll job, but this is ridiculous in the extreme. In fact, most argue that the stars of the game are held to a higher standard as they are shown more often on the broadcast and are therefore more scrutinized than a player who finishes well outside of the competition.

There are countless examples of top players being penalized, but Rory McIlroy’s incident with the 2019 Northern Trust officials, which was that season’s playoff opener, is a solid build.

The Northern Irishman was penalized two strokes in the second round for hitting what he thought was a rock in a bunker but turned out to be a block of sand. He was then three shots from the lead. This penalty was later overturned by the rules committee after further review of the new rule definition.

“The sofa fan called it and of course the [PGA Tour] accepted this word from the rules makers and reviewed it. There was a rules officer with him at the time who did not rule him. [Tour] fail again.

It is a common misconception that there is a rules maker with every group. It’s not correct. There was an official “in the area” who could have been called in to help Smith better understand the rule, and that’s always an option. It’s also worth noting that Ryan Palmer, who was paired with Smith on Saturday, even suggested that he call an official for clarity if he wasn’t sure, but Smith didn’t.


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Additionally, officials stopped receiving calls for potential violations years ago. It was an on-site rules official watching Saturday’s replay who suggested the committee take another look at the fall, and it was Smith who admitted his ball was in play.

“Scheffler, winner of the Masters, is a strong opponent of LIV. And in the first round at Memphis, the American blatantly crossed his playing partner Smith’s line of putt on the 12th green before a birdie attempt. The Aussie looked at him in disbelief.

Scottie Scheffler is a PGA Tour supporter in the ongoing rift with LIV Golf and he walked by Smith in Thursday’s first round, but he didn’t walk on the other side or by his line. Scheffler told reporters that when he realized what he had done, he tracked down Smith to apologize for any slights, real or perceived.

The two even jokingly concocted a plan to have a “look down” in Friday’s second round, but neither could keep a straight face long enough to pull it off.

There’s enough animosity between those loyal to the Tour and those who ran away for LIV Golf, but neither the penalty nor Scheffler’s snafu has anything to do with the starter league.

“Really tough break. It was the right call. He handled it very well, classy guy.

This one is indeed correct. Smith handled the news well and it was the right call, no matter what many on social media might think.

“[Smith’s] The answer for me is, “The rules are the rules,” said PGA Tour umpire Gary Young. “He just accepted the two-stroke penalty…he left the office very calmly and is going about his business for the day.”