Cameron Smith’s surprise BMW Championship withdrawal caps wild week
After a hectic week, it looks like Cam Smith will be making only one more PGA Tour start this season.
Smith, the world’s second-ranked player and No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings, withdrew from the BMW Championship Monday.
In a statement shared by the PGA Tour, Smith’s agent, Bud Martin, said Smith was dealing with a hip issue, but seemingly indicated Smith still planned to play in the following week’s Tour Championship, in Atlanta.
“Unfortunately, Cam will be unable to compete in the BMW Championship this week in Wilmington DE,” Martin said. “He had been dealing with some on and off hip discomfort for several months and thought it best to rest this week in his pursuit of the FedEx Cup.”
The surprise withdrawal caps an eventful week for Smith, as he made headlines several times at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
The LIV buzz started Tuesday thanks to a spark by fellow Australian Cameron Percy, who said on the RSN podcast that Smith and another Australian, Marc Leishman, were “gone.”
Smith didn’t hold back at Percy, saying in his pre-tournament press conference that he was there to win the FedEx Cup.
“If there’s something I need to say regarding the PGA Tour or LIV, it will come from Cameron Smith, not Cameron Percy,” Smith told reporters. “I’m a man of my word and whenever you guys need to know anything, it’ll be said by me.”
The non-answer only fueled more speculation around the Champion Golfer of the Year’s plans to defect from the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. A British newspaper, the Telegraph, also reported that Smith was headed to the Saudi-backed rival golf league. But had Smith acknowledged the alleged move, he likely would have been suspended or banned from the Tour and unable to to compete for the $75 million in FedEx Cup bonus pool money.
That Scottie ‘incident’
Golf Twitter had a field day during the first round of the tournament Thursday when World No. 1, and then FedEx Cup leader Scottie Scheffler, appeared to walk through Smith’s line on the 12th green.
Smith shot back a confused glare, but both players said to Golf Channel staffers after the round that there was no bad blood — and even joked that they might recreate the episode in the second round.
A day-after penalty
All of this overshadowed the fact Smith was playing well and in contention in Memphis, just two strokes back through three rounds.
Smith was given a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop he had taken early in the third round. But the penalty wasn’t assessed until Smith arrived to the golf course for his final round on Sunday.
Delayed penalties are nothing new in golf, but watching one happen to a player at the center of controversy is a rather Ill-timed coincidence for Smith.
A fade from contention
Smith could never get anything going in the final round.
Despite making birdie on the first, he turned in a fourth round even-par 70, dropping him from a tie for sixth to a tie for 13th — made rougher still when you consider he went to sleep Saturday thinking he was in a tie for third at 11-under, where eventual champion Will Zalatoris also sat through three rounds.
Smith’s agent seemed to indicate that Smith still intends to compete at the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week, to try to win the $18 million first place prize for the FedEx Cup.
Smith’s WD will likely slot him into the fourth spot heading into East Lake — he could remain third, but Scottie Scheffler or Will Zalatoris would need to win for that to be possible. That would put Smith at six under to start the tournament, four shots back of the FedEx Cup leader.
For what it’s worth, the next LIV event is in Boston Sept. 2-4.