Jordy Smith's 2017 World Title hopes took a huge hit Sunday at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal when the World No. 2 suffered an excruciating loss to veteran Josh Kerr in Round Three. So far this year, Smith has been enjoying his best season since 2010, and entered this event just needing to keep pace with John John Florence -- current World No. 1 -- to keep his Title hopes alive. With a fifth-place finish he could have forced the race to Hawaii, regardless of what happened on John John's side of the ledger. Now, his fate depends on whether Florence makes it to the Finals -- where Florence can clinch the Title, unless Gabriel Medina is the guy who edges him for the win.
Florence hit the water in Heat 6 of the round, right before Jordy. The Oahu local was tangled up in a tough one against wildcard Vasco Ribeiro, but after some scrapping, he emerged victorious. Smith was watching closely as he readied for the very next heat against Kerr.
Both Smith and Kerr had issues finding opportunities in the tricky conditions, resulting in a low-scoring affair. Sadly for Smith, he didn't need much to turn the heat around in the closing moments, but his luck seemed to run out. He didn't get a shot, which made for a tough, anticlimactic loss for Smith. Even the hushed crowd seemed to feel for him.
It was the second straight Round Three loss for Jordy. "This isn't how I saw my Europe leg going," he said afterward, clearly frustrated. "Obviously it's not over yet, so we'll see what happens. I'll I can do is just try to continue keep pushing and chip away."