Cameron Smith's pursuit to become the world's number one golfer before reportedly switching over to LIV Golf is well and truly on after he moved to within only two strokes of the lead at the FedEx St. Jude Championship in the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.
Smith, 28, appeared to all but confirm his future path earlier in the week when he conceded he was "ready to cop some heat" after playing his first round here at TPC Southwind in Memphis.
The Australian hit carded his third consecutive round in the 60s on Saturday. He previously fired rounds of 67 and 65. Smith struggled to gain any momentum on his front nine, carding two bogeys at No.4 and No.7. He turned in level par after finding two birdies, though.
He found three birdies on his back nine which by the end of play see him nicely positioned to make a run for victory on Sunday. If he were to win, he would move to the top of the newly-revamped Official World Golf Ranking, toppling Scottie Scheffler, who missed the cut here. Rory McIlroy also missed the cut by one stroke after making bogey at his final hole.
Victory here and winning the FedEx Cup after the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship at East Lake would cap off a truly remarkable season for Smith. He won the Tournament of Champions in the early part of the season in Hawaii, shooting a record low score on the PGA Tour.
In March, he claimed The Players at TPC Sawgrass with one of the most nerveless up and downs we have seen in recent memory after finding water at the 72nd hole. His back nine at St Andrews will also live long in the memory after he won the 150th Open Championship.
It beggars belief to some people that Smith could possibly make the switch to the controversial series as he enters his prime. But his price has reportedly been met and the figure is north of $100m.
Smith spoke to the media after the third round and wasn't asked about his future. We already know that he can't say anything. But he did admit that he felt there was more attention on him this week.
"Yeah, there's definitely been a few more [distractions], but for me, I'm just trying to hit the best shot I can. That's what I'm here to do is to hit good golf shots and make birdies," he said.
What would it mean to become the World No.1?
"Yeah, that would mean a lot. I mean, that's what we're all here to do. That's been one of my goals probably since the start of the year is to try to get to that top spot and try and chase it down," he said.
The unlikely leader is the American J.J. Spaun, who sits atop the pack at 13-under par, one clear of Sepp Straka. Do not discount Will Zalatoris or Trey Mullinax, who lurk on the same score as Smith.
Tyler Duncan, Troy Merritt, Sungjae Im, Sam Burns, Hayden Buckley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Wyndham Clark, Ryan Palmer, Brian Harman and Tony Finau make up the top-10 at 9-under par.
Elsewhere, Rickie Fowler's hopes of advancing to the BMW Championship vanished at the 18th hole after he made a nine (!) on the par-4 18th. It tied his highest ever score on a single hole in his PGA Tour career.