ADAM Scott’s breakthrough victory at the 2013 US Masters was hailed as the last great mountain for Australia’s golfers to climb, the Green Jacket the final piece in the puzzle of Grand Slam victories.
But while it doesn’t carry the cache or prestige of the game’s established Big Four, there is one significant golf title no Australian has yet captured: the lucrative FedEx Cup.
What the FedEx Cup lacks in history it makes up for in hard cash, the winner walking away with a cool $US10 million bonus on top of whatever else they earn in the rich four tournament play-off series.
Jason Day’s magical finish to the 2015 season saw him come closer than any other Australian in the Cup’s 10-year history, The World Number One finishing third behind Jordan Spieth in the season-long competition.
In his Masters year of 2013 Scott finished fourth but in 2016 the Queensland pair have a good chance to break the decade-long hoodoo at golf’s richest party.
Day leads the FedEx Cup standings by a miniscule 34 points from American Dustin Johnson with Scott a further 638 points behind in third.
Russell Knox and Jordan Spieth are the only two other players within 1000 points of Day’s lead though with points quadrupled for the four playoff tournaments, that is of little consequence.
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Day and Scott are part of a five-strong Australian challenge and while any player in the 125-man field for this week’s Barclays tournament in New York can, mathematically, win the ultimate prize, it is the Queenslanders who are most likely.
Aaron Baddeley (45th), Marc Leishman (57th) and John Senden (99th) join Day and Scott at Bethpage Black with the first two all but assured of being among the 100 who will advance to next week’s Deustche Bank Championship and the following week’s BMW Championship when the field is reduced to 70.
Senden, though, is precariously close to playing only the first of the four tournaments with a Herculean effort required if he is to be part of the final 30 man field at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta.
Day is the defending champion but won this tournament at a different venue, Liberty National, last year.
He has played the revered Bethpage Black in tournament conditions just once, finishing T24 when The Barclays was played here in 2012.
However, having famously elected not to tee up at the Rio Olympics three weeks ago Day arrives in New York fresh and motivated to continue his reign at the top of the world rankings.
The 28-year-old hasn’t played since his spectacular runner-up finish at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol but in a season which has seen him post three victories and nine top 10’s in 16 starts, he will be among the favourites this week.
“Well, I think the ultimate goal for me is to stay in the top five, getting into Tour Champ. If I can win the Tour Champ there, I guarantee myself a win in the FedExCup if I can win there,” Day said.
“It would be nice to win a couple, and that's why I'm saying, to get off to a good start, it would be good to get a win here and get off to a great start that way and really get the push that I had last year.
“I won The Barclays last year, and that gave me a good run through Deutsche Bank and then obviously on to the BMW where I won again.
“I think by Tour Champs, I wasn't - it was just a difficult week for me, because I couldn't really click, get anything clicked together. Hopefully with the week off that I have after the third one, I'll get some good rest and I'll be able to fire in for the Tour Champs.”
Scott has more experience at the Bethpage course with three tournaments to his credit there though his best finish came at the 2009 US Open when he was T36.
However, it has been a resurgent year for the 36-year-old who, like Day, is fresh off a lengthy break having elected to skip the Rio games.
“I'm hoping to play a little better than I have the last three months and have a little run like I did earlier in the year and finish the year off really well and have a shot at winning the FedEx Cup,” he said.
“I've put myself in a great position that if I play well the next few weeks, hopefully I can be in that top five going into Atlanta. That's obviously important. Then it's kind of all up to me whether I can win it from there.”
Scott says he has done some honest analysis of his game in recent weeks and ideintified what he needed to work on.
“Having a quick look at stats, I didn't have to look very hard: My putting was not good enough,” he said.
“So I quit worrying about my long game and just got stuck into the short game.”
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