Devastating finish likely cost pro his Tour card — but there’s more to the story
Max Homa twice tweeted about it. Shane Lowry shared a picture of a jet.
Then there is the reaction of the man himself, and if you view nothing else on Saturday, watch Austin Smotherman. Though if his response to one of the most unfortunate sequences you’ll see tells you anything, he’ll probably shrug his shoulders at your condolences and well-wishes, too.
To begin, Smotherman and three others on Friday stopped their second rounds at the Wyndham Championship due to darkness, and this week, the last of the PGA Tour’s regular season, that’s very notable. For one, there was the cutline for weekend play — the top 65 players and ties move on on the PGA Tour; at the time of Friday night’s stoppage, there were exactly 65 players at two-under at Sedgefield Country Club; and the four players all were floating around that number: Smotherman was one-under with a birdie putt on 8 (his 17th hole) ahead; Chris Gotterup was two-under with a bogey putt on 18 facing him; Bo Hoag was three-under through 16 holes; and Joshua Creel was even-par with a birdie putt on 18 ahead. If the number dipped to one-under, a whopping 23 other players would survive.
Whew. But there’s more. The Wyndham is also the last week of the Tour’s regular season, with the top 125 players both moving on to next week’s start of the playoffs, and in some scenarios, securing their Tour cards for next year. This was in play for Hoag, Creel and very much so for Smotherman — entering the week, Hoag was 186th in the standings, Creel 201st and Smotherman, yes, 125th. (Gotterup is a sponsor exemption this week.)
“This is nuts,” Max Homa tweeted Friday night. “Also Gotterup has 4 feet for bogey to potentially make the cut. But if Smotherman plays his last 2 in 1 under, the cut moves from -1 to -2 and there are currently 88(!) guys at -1. Chaos”
Indeed. All four returned Saturday probably before you awoke. On 18, Gotterup bogeyed and Creel parred, and Hoag played his final two holes at even-par. Which brings us back to Smotherman. We hope you’ve stuck around. Again, it’s worth it.
On 8, Smotherman rimmed out his 11-footer for birdie.
On 9, needing a par to make the weekend, Smotherman double-bogeyed; his tee shot found the fairway, then he missed the green right, chipped long and three-putted. And some celebrated. The cutline was now one-under, and that meant the 23 survived — including Shane Lowry, who tweeted out a picture of him boarding a jet back to Greensboro.
Then there was Smotherman.
His season likely done, his Tour card likely lost, he shrugged his shoulders in the direction of his caddie, Austin Gaugert, and said a few words as a Tour social media person videotaped nearby. He kissed his wife, Jessie. He then signed his card. It was nothing. And the response was everything.
“Damn,” Homa tweeted. “Cut stays at -1. Smotherman misses. I feel for him that’s gotta be brutal to sleep on that w/ ur season on the line. #golf af.”
Damn is right.