14 Aug 2022 | Professional golf |
Smith within reach of world No.1 ranking
by Australian Golf Media
By Tony Webeck
The equation is simple: Win the FedEx St Jude Championship on Sunday 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 three-under 67 on Saturday at TPC Southwind in Memphis to sit in a share of third at 11-under par.
At the venue where he very nearly won 12 months ago, Smith is just two strokes back of 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 Rankings.
“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 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational only for an errant tee shot and subsequent bold play that backfired dropping him down 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,” said Smith.
“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 Sunday with 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).
At the Korn Ferry Tour regular season finale in Nebraska, a back nine of three-under 32 has put Sydney’s Harrison Endycott within one round of PGA TOUR promotion at the Pinnacle Bank Championship.
With his father Brian in attendance to witness the realisation of a lifelong dream, the 25-year-old bounced back from an outward nine of one-over to post two-under 69 in Round 3 and move into a share of 41st.
Projected to finish in 21st position, with so many variations and permutations the exact equation Endycott needs to preserve his place in the top 25 on the points list is unclear but at this late stage, every shot matters.
He had bogeys at two, six and nine against birdies at four and seven on his outward nine, digging deep to make three birdies in the space of four holes from the 12th to strengthen his position and settle the nerves somewhat.
Nineteenth in the standings at the start of the week, if Endycott can even hold his position it will likely be enough to secure one of the 10 remaining cards to be distributed at the completion of the tournament.
A further 25 cards will be awarded at the end of the three-week Korn Ferry Tour Finals that begin next week but given he is so close, Endycott will want to wrap up his card at the first available opportunity.
Winner of the Huntsville Championship earlier in the season, Endycott’s special addition to the gallery has only heightened the emotion surrounding his quest.
It has been a decade since Endycott lost his mother to ovarian cancer and there will not be a dry eye anywhere at The Club at Indian Creek if he and his father get to celebrate a PGA TOUR card on Sunday.
A round of eight-under 64 has moved David McKenzie inside the top through two rounds of the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour while Cassie Porter has moved into a share of 15th in her debut tournament on the Epson Tour.
The Sunshine Coast native shot three-under 69 in the second round to sit seven shots off the lead, level with fellow Aussies Gabriela Ruffels (72), Hira Naveed (72) and Kiwi Amelia Garvey (70).
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