The duel between Adam Scott and Cameron Smith to represent Australia at the World Cup in Melbourne in November could go all the way to the Tour Championship after the pair made major moves in the opening week of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
It has been a difficult second half of the season for the two Queenslanders but both showed a significant turnaround in form at the PGA Championship and have carried that into The Northern Trust at Ridgewood Country Club.
Entering the week ranked 53rd and 73rd respectively, Smith and Scott are both projected to move to within striking distance of the top 30 in the FedEx Cup countdown after finishing top five behind winner Bryson DeChambeau.
Smith could move as high as 37th in the rankings after a third round 65 propelled him to a tie for third, his highest finish of the year and first top 10 since The Masters in April.
Scott is projected to make an even more significant leap, up from 73rd to 40th and within reach of a return visit to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the Tour Championship after he ended the week tied for fifth, highlighted by a second round of 64.
Scott leapfrogged Smith in the world rankings following his third-place finish at the PGA Championship at Bellerive and both have expressed their strong desire to represent their country alongside either Jason Day or Marc Leishman later in the year.
Australia’s FedEx Cup frontrunner, Jason Day, is projected to drop two spots to eighth after he finished the week tied for 20th while Marc Leishman could also drop two spots after he was tied for 35th, projected to start the Dell Technologies Championship this week in 24th position.
Perhaps the most courageous performance of the week came from Kiwi Danny Lee.
Starting the week ranked 103rd and in very real danger of missing the cutoff for the 100-strong field for the second playoffs event, Lee bounced back from a Saturday 72 to shoot a 4-under 67 and move up 23 spots to a tie for 35th.
The byproduct of his Sunday fireworks that featured five birdies in succession to start the back nine after dropping a shot at the ninth is that he is projected to move up four spots to 99th in the FedEx Cup and earn a berth in the Dell Technologies Championship.