Cameron Smith is coming home hunting a historic Australian PGA three-peat – but not before tending to some important business in America.
A top-20 finish at the Open Championship has not only put Smith on course for a Presidents Cup debut this year but also boosted his chances of a deeper run in the PGA Tour's mega-money FedEx Cup playoffs.
With US$60 million (AU$85m) up for grabs – including US$15 million (AU$21m) for the season-ending Tour Championships winner – every decent result between now and the playoffs starting on August 8 is vital.
Smith climbed from 93rd to 85th in the FedEx Cup standings with his performance at Royal Portrush, where he tied 20th after being the only Australian to make the cut at the season's final major.
Given only the top 70 in the standings after the first playoff event, the Northern Trust Open in New Jersey, will qualify for the second event, Smith's improvement was crucial.
The 25-year-old hopes to rise further at this week's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis and then at the last regular-season event, The Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, in the hope of surviving as long as possible in the playoffs.
"I'm going to play Memphis with a little bit of stress off – no cut, 78 guys – so hopefully I can go there and play similar to what I did this week," Smith said after his Open-best showing at Royal Portrush.
"I think I'm going to play Wyndham as well so I'll just keep playing until I get knocked out."
RIGHT: Smith will attempt to win three-straight Australian PGA titles this December. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Smith's performance at Portrush put the Queenslander in an elite group including World No.1 Brooks Koepka as one of only 10 players to make the cut at all four majors this year plus the Players' Championship.
The only others to achieve the feat were Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, Tommy Fleetwood, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
It's left Smith eighth in the Presidents Cup standings and in line for one of the eight automatic selections on Ernie Els' International team to face Tiger Woods' star-studded USA outfit at Royal Melbourne from December 9-15.
While countrymen Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Jason Day are yet to commit, Smith is already planning his Australian Open and Australia PGA Championship assaults the weeks either side of the Presidents Cup.
"I'll be down for the Australian Open, but I might actually go home sooner and have a bit of a holiday, catch up with the family and stuff," he said.
Having successfully defended his PGA crown last year, Smith will arrive at Royal Pines for the December 19-22 season finale shooting for the first Australian PGA hat-trick since Dan Soutar won the first three events from 1905-07.
- Darren Walton, Australian Associated Press