The equation is simple: win the FedEx St Jude Championship tomorrow and Cameron Smith will become the No.1 player in men’s golf.
Making his first start since his Open Championship triumph at St Andrews, Smith posted a three-under 67 in the third round at TPC Southwind in Memphis to sit in a share of third place at 11-under par.
At the tournament where he nearly won 12 months ago, Smith is just two strokes behind American JJ Spaun.
Given that current world No.1 Scottie Scheffler missed the cut, a victory would see Smith move ahead and become just the fourth Australian to ever reach the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking.
“That would mean a lot,” Smith said of the prospect of becoming the No.1 player in the world, joining Greg Norman, Adam Scott and Jason Day as the only Aussies to achieve the feat.
“I mean, that’s what we’re all here to do.
“That’s been one of my goals since the start of the year is to try to get to that top spot and try and chase it down.”
Smith was tied for the lead standing on the 72nd tee in last year’s tournament only for an errant tee shot and subsequent bold play that backfired dropping him into a tie for fifth.
Despite the lack of play since The Open – and more than a couple of claret jug-centric celebrations – Smith said the familiarity with the golf course has allowed him to pick up where he left off.
“I knew that I felt comfortable around here, which is a massive confidence boost starting the week,” Smith said.
“A lot of work last week with my trainer. The body felt good and the game is still feeling good, so yeah, can’t wait for tomorrow.
“Didn’t get off to the greatest start. Hit lots of good putts that could have gone in early in the round, they just weren’t dropping.
“As the day went on, the putts started to drop a little bit. Just really solid all in all.”
Out in even-par, Smith made a birdie from 15 feet to start the back nine on the front foot, two-putting from 31 feet for birdie at the par-5 16th and holing a 14-footer at the last to move within two of the lead.
Countrymen Cam Davis, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman also have a lot to play for in the final round.
All will enter the final round under the threat of suffering the top-70 cut-off to advance to next week, currently projected to finish 64th (Scott), 67th (Davis) and 69th (Leishman).