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Jimmy Walker, for example, is at No. 46. He has never played in the Masters, the U.S. Open or the British Open. He missed U.S. Open qualifying by one shot this year. And he is four good rounds away from moving into the top 30 and getting into all three of those majors next year.

“From where I’m sitting right now, that’s the carrot,” Walker said. “Getting there means getting in all the tournaments next year. It really helps, especially for guys in my position not playing in the big events. It will change your whole year.”

Of course, there’s still the long odds of winning the $10 million, which comes with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

Haas never imagined it would be him last year. All he really thought about was getting into East Lake. He had narrowly missed out in 2010 by finishing No. 31, and last year at the BMW Championship, he was perturbed at blowing a chance to qualify for the Presidents Cup until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill. He was looking to make enough of an impression at East Lake to be a captain’s pick when he saw a video board on the 17th hole in regulation.

“I look up and it says, ‘Bill Haas is projected to win the FedEx Cup,’” he said. “It’s the first time I said, ‘Oh, wow, maybe there’s a little more on the line here.’ That made me a little extra nervous.”

He made bogey on the 18th, wound up in a playoff, saved par from the water two holes later, and won on the third extra hole.

This year, Haas is in familiar territory. He won at Riviera in a playoff in February, but has gone quiet since then and comes to Crooked Stick at No. 28. There is work left to reach the ultimate destination in the FedEx Cup, which is the Tour Championship.

And he is not the only one who thinks that way.

“This is the biggest one,” said Pat Perez, who checks in at No. 55 and is somewhat of a long shot to get to East Lake. “The biggest prize to me is top 30. The $10 million is nice, but it’s only for one guy. I’d like to be in the top 30 because then I’m in everything. I’d have a chance to win majors. And that’s what you need — a chance.

“If I could never win the FedEx Cup but knew I would be top 30 for the next 10 years? Sign me up.”