PINEHURST, N.C. — Patrick Cantlay has his eyes on the prize heading into the final round of the 2024 U.S. Open. Starting the day three off the lead of Bryson DeChambeau, the eight-time PGA Tour winner and former FedEx Cup champion could change the narrative regarding his struggles in major championships with a strong performance on Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2. In the process, however, Cantlay could also claim a different spoil:

A spot on in the field at the Paris Olympics.

Cantlay is ninth on the Olympic Golf Ranking list, but as the fifth-ranked American, he is on the outside looking in with the qualifying period for the 2024 Summer Games closing after today’s play (women’s qualifying ends in a week after the conclusion of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship). No country can have more than four players in the field, so long as they’re all inside the top 15 in the rankings.

Scottie Scheffler (No. 1) leads the way for the American contingent, with Xander Schauffele (No. 2) set to try to defend the gold medal he won in Japan in 2021. Wyndham Clark (No. 4) is third, with Colin Morikawa the fourth-ranked American at No. 7.

If Cantlay finishes high enough, he can jump Morikawa for the last American spot. But there’s a catch in that Morikawa is also on the leaderboard at Pinehurst, starting the day seven shots back in a tie for ninth. If Morikawa were to replicate the four-under 66 he shot on Saturday during the third round, he could play well enough to fend off Cantlay depending on how Cantlay plays, creating a game within a game.

The same holds true for Canada’s Corey Conners. The 32-year-old is also tied for ninth at the U.S. Open entering the final round. Only two players from Canada will make the Olympic team since they’re all ranked outside the top 15, but currently those two spots are owned by Nick Taylor (No. 32) and Adam Hadwin (No. 35). With Conners ranked No. 46 and Hadwin having missed the cut, Conners can likely jump his countryman with a top-10 finish.

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Countrymen Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners and Nick Taylor pose for a photo early in the week at the U.S. Open. Only two of them can represent Canada in the Olympics, with Conners trying to bump Hadwin out of the second spot with a high finish Sunday at Pinehurst.

Keyur Khamar

There are a few other long-shot bids that are quickly evaporating. Italy’s Francesco Molinari miraculously made the cut at Pinehurst on the number with a hole in one on his final hole Friday, but he needed a top-10 finish pass Guido Migliozzi and grab the second spot available to Italy. And Sweden’s Tim Widing will need a career performance in the final round Sunday (tied for second or better) to somehow earn enough points to pass Alex Noren and get the second spot from Sweden

One other player who locked notably locked up his Olympic berth this week was Spain’s David Puig. All he had to do was make the cut to guaranteed that he would pass Jorge Campillo and be the second highest ranked Spaniard behind Jon Rahm. Puig holed a clutch five-footer for par on the last hole Friday to make the cut on the number and was in T-20 heading into the final round.

One other Olympic note: DeChambeau’s current ranking is 38th, hampered by the fact that he earns no World Ranking points from his performances in LIV Golf events. With a victory on Sunday, he is projected to move up to No. 10 in the World Ranking and the Olympic qualifying list. That likely, however, will not be enough to move him into the top four Americans, leaving him outside looking in for Paris.

The Men’s Olympics tournament is set for Aug. 1-4 at Le Golf National outside Paris.

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This article was originally published on golfdigest.com