Cameron Smith has given his Presidents Cup and FedEx Cup playoff prospects a significant boost with his best finish at a British Open.
In the most brutal conditions of the tournament, a final-round five-over-par 76 was enough to secure Smith a share of 20th place at Royal Portrush.
Despite a torrid closing stretch in which he leaked three shots in the last four holes, Smith finished in red numbers at one under for the championship.
"It would have been nice to hole a few more putts throughout the week and be right up there, but it is what it is," he said.
"This was probably my favourite major to watch growing up, not knowing how brutal it could be over here.
"Any tournament, regardless of what it is, to show up and be in the third-last group (in round three) and then give it a pretty good crack there, it's just all learning."
The lone Australian to make the cut, Smith had been hoping to make a Sunday charge.
Instead it quickly became a fight for survival as buffeting wind and rain lashing the coastal links course in Northern Ireland made pars gold.
Continuing the theme of his week, apart from a sizzling second-round 66, every time Smith drained a birdie putt he would give the shot back at the next hole - doing so at the sixth and again at the 11th.
Further dropped shots at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes had the 25-year-old battling to keep it together.
But a par at the last was enough for his first top-20 result at The Open.
"It was just brutal. That was all it was," Smith said.
"It seemed like you couldn't control your ball no matter how good a strike you had or how good you thought your read was...
"Sometimes you've just got to hang in there, even though it's going the wrong way.
"I actually made a few good bogeys coming in."
After missing the cut on debut at Birkdale in 2017 and finishing 78th at Carnoustie last year, Smith's impressive Portrush performance put him back on track for a maiden Presidents Cup appearance.
Five weeks out from the eight automatic spots being decided, Smith is projected to rise from 10th to eighth in the Cup standings.
He now has his Cup destiny in his own hands, instead of needing one of four captain's picks from International team skipper Ernie Els to punch his ticket to Royal Melbourne from September 9-15.
"That's been my goal since the start of the year, to get on that team," Smith said.
"Obviously I had a good run when they started taking the rankings and then fell off through the middle there.
"But I feel as though my game is coming around."
Smith shared 20th with former Open champions Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson and England's former world No.1 Justin Rose.