Greystones' Paul Dunne will be focussing on the job at hand rather than the potential rewards when he makes his debut in the $10 million WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.
The Wicklow man (25) needs to win or finish solo second to break into the world’s top 50 and secure a place in the Masters while solo fourth would be just enough to make the top 64 who qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas in three weeks’ time.
With Rory McIlroy opting to rest, the British Masters champion is the lone Irishman in the field and barring a late addition to his schedule, this could represent his last chance to make it to Austin or Augusta National.
Down nine spots in the world this year to 86th after following a share of 19th in Abu Dhabi with missed cuts in the Dubai Desert Classic and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he spent last week working on his game with coach US-based coach Eric Eshelman in Alabama.
“It’s a beautiful course and the ball is going for miles,” Dunne said of the venue where he tees off with Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira and American Brendan Steele at 1903 Irish time knowing that his immediate future depends on putting a big result on the board or he could face five weeks off before the Spanish Open.
"The course is nice; very tight and the ball going about 15% further, a little less with wedges. It's tricky around the greens but scorable from the fairway."
The 65-strong field includes 56 of the world's top 100 45 of the top 50 with McIlroy, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson and the injured Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka the only absentees.
Defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson is the favourite for $1.7 million top-prize and at a venue 7,500 ft above sea level where he averaged 285 yards from the tee with irons en route to victory last year.