You will not see a more gutting three-putt than the one that may have knocked this pro out of the FedEx Cup Playoffs
Austin Smotherman's lip-out birdie, double-bogey combo on Saturday morning, which led to a missed cut and the loss of his PGA Tour card, was, at the time, the most gutting moment of the 2022 Wyndham Championship. It didn't take long, however, for the regular-season finale to produce yet another heart-wrenching and possibly career-altering moment that we won't soon forget.
On Sunday afternoon, Justin Lower, a 33-year-old journeyman who has had his share of career ups and downs, began the day at six under, well off the lead but a great final round away from locking up a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. A two-under 68 or better (better would have been preferable) and Lower, a tour rookie, likely gets into the FedEx St. Jude Championship and secures his card for a second straight year. Hardly an unattainable score for a player who had just posted back-to-back 66s, though that Sunday Wyndham pressure hits different.
It hit extremely different in the late afternoon for Lower, who arrived at the 72nd hole two under on his round, eight under for the tournament. A birdie would likely get him in, while a par would put him right on the 125 mark, at which point Lower would have to begin rooting against tournament leader Joohyung "Tom" Kim. Kim is not a PGA Tour member, but with a win at the Wyndham he'd earn a membership, which would knock out whoever was right on the 125 mark in the FedEx Cup standings.
Lower managed to find the par-4 18th green in two but still had 61 feet left for birdie. To his credit, knowing it needed to go, Lower went for it, gunning it six feet past and leaving him with a testy par save that would have still at least given him a slim chance to make it should Kim falter down the stretch. Obviously, you already know what happened next (no one would blame you if you covered your eyes for this one):
Pain. You might also notice in the video compilation below, Lower has experienced something very similar in the recent past. At the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Championship (then the Web.com Tour), the Ohio native missed a putt from around eight feet on the 72nd hole that would have put him inside "The 25" on the KFT, which would have earned him a PGA Tour card. You can't make this stuff up.
The good news is, Lower is clearly one resilient golfer, and he'll have a chance to prove that again in the KFT Finals (Smotherman will, too). Let's just hope it doesn't come down to another putt inside 10 feet on the 72nd hole. Not because Lower can't make it, but because no one should have to endure that type of stress over and over again like he has.