PGA Tour Inc.

07/29/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/28/2021 23:19

Austin Smotherman chases PGA TOUR card behind special bond with grandfather

Now that his grandson is on the Korn Ferry Tour, Acquistapace and his daughter, Smotherman's mom, have become pros at figuring out his proximity to the hole with minimal info when they can't be at the tournament. If his two playing partners scores post on the app before him, they get excited because they know he's got a nice look at birdie.

'They live and die by the PGA TOUR app every single week,' Smotherman said. 'But they love it.'

Smotherman, who played at SMU despite never having a coach until college, even jokes with his grandfather every year at Christmas time on the present he's going to get him based on that love.

'I always joke with my grandfather that every Christmas I'm going to have to get him a new keyboard because he's hitting enter and refresh so often that he's going to break it every single year,' Smotherman laughed.

When Smotherman's playing on the East Coast with an early tee time on Thursday or Friday, it can make for some early mornings for Acquistapace, who lives in Sacramento. So Smotherman tries to do his best to take care of him for the weekend.

'I've been getting some early morning tee times, 7 o clock on the east coast, 4 o clock for him.' Smotherman said, 'So, he's like, 'Alright, I'll catch you on the sixth hole. I'll be on my second cup of coffee by then!' And then I'm like, 'Don't worry I'll get you a late tee time on Saturday so you can sleep in, alright?''

The two still make sure and talk for a couple minutes after every competitive round. Acquistapace is quite the player himself too. Although he doesn't get to play much anymore, he has six hole-in-ones and shot his age when he was 77. And he's been a major part of getting his grandson to the Korn Ferry Tour, and maybe even the PGA TOUR soon.

'He's been a big part of it all,' Smotherman said.

At No. 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points Standings, his grandfather will surely be hitting refresh a lot over the final two events as Smotherman chases one of the 25 PGA TOUR cards that will be handed out in Omaha. His grandfather won't be there but will be in Boise the following week to kick off the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, and Smotherman's hoping they'll have a PGA TOUR card to celebrate together. He got a lot closer to that dream last week with a T4 that helped him jump back inside the top 25.

'Last week was huge. I think I kind of proved to myself that I could keep those thoughts of [the top 25] out of my head,' Smotherman said.

The California native admits it's hard to keep the bubble out of your head at this stage, especially when his caddie's wearing a top-25 bib, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

'It's obviously going to be crunch time, but I wouldn't change it for the world,' Smotherman said. 'To be in this position at the start of the year, I would have said, 'Give it to me. Embrace it, go play well.' And you know what someone's gotta be the bubble boy, and I feel like I can handle it. And now I gotta go kind of prove that. Whether I finish 25, 26 or 15, I feel confident, and it's a very cool feeling.'

It'd be hard for him to not feel confident with as well as Smotherman has been hitting it. He ranks sixth in ball striking, seventh in total driving, 10th in greens in regulation and 11th in driving accuracy. At Lakewood National earlier this year, he posted the best mark of the Korn Ferry Tour season to this point, hitting 44 greens in a row. He also won his first Korn Ferry Tour event in a wire-to-wire victory in May at the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation, and he's added two additional top-5s in his last five starts.

It's the type of season that has the 27-year-old on the verge of a lifelong dream - a PGA TOUR card - that would complete a journey that goes far beyond just him.

'To make a start as a PGA TOUR member that would be accomplishing a lifelong dream of me,' Smotherman said. 'It would definitely be rewarding and to have that sense of pride. My family and everyone that sacrificed things around me through my whole life from traveling to junior events, to spending time away from my wife, we got married young and I traveled a ton, but I think it'd be rewarding for me and everyone around me that have seen my work put in.'

And if he starts to feel that pressure of the bubble the next two weeks, he knows where to turn.

'My family's support…those are the things coming down the stretch if I have any nerves the next couple of weeks, how can I not fall back on that and just know, 'Hey, relax a little bit, Austin, this game's done a lot for you? Let's go take care of business now!''

His grandfather will certainly be refreshing and following along.