Tragically, winter has come. The cold and snow and harsh, horrible hell that is the cold, white abyss of winter has arrived.
Golf? Oh, it seems so far away — but for those who are looking to dominate their fantasy golf leagues come January must stay focused. The work begins now.
Now that names 40-36 have been released, it’s time to delve into the next crop of Tour stars — some established, some looking for that stable footing — who ought to be on the minds and in the hearts of fantasy fans everywhere.
So many times winning and losing comes down to the roll players. It’s true for every baseball team Craig Counsel ever played on and it’s what’s made the NBA’s 6th Man such a coveted award.
In fantasy — golf or otherwise — wins and loses very much hing on the lesser heralded but undeniably valuable roll players.
Here’s a look at a few guys who you need to keep tabs on in 2018 who have a chip on their shoulder. Guys with something to prove and the talent to prove it:
35. Grayson Murray
At this point in his career, Grayson Murray is more of a Twitter star than a golf star. Famous for his polarizing tweets and frat boy swagger, Murray is best known — perhaps — for asking Lindsay Pelas to caddie for him in the Masters Par 3 contest. He didn’t qualify and she never carried a bag.
Murray, who won the Barbasol Championship last July, seems to get overlooked thanks to his personality — but make no mistake: he’s got some game.
If Murray can harness his tough to bridle personality, he can be a bonafide star. I, for one, hope it happens and will be paying close attention to him and his progression in 2018. At this point, I’d handle with care — but he’s certainly one to watch as the weather turns warmer.
34. Beau Hossler
Most remember Beau Hossler as the kid who stole the show on Friday at the 2012 U.S. Open. As a 17 year old, Hossler held the outright lead for a brief moment during the second round at Olympic Club. He also qualified for the most democratic tournament in the world at the age of 16 at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
Now, Hossler is a fresh-faced, 22-year old pro making his first full season run on the PGA Tour. After five starts, he’s already back on the radar of most in the golf world — and should be on the radar of all fantasy players.
Hossler, who has already collected two top-10 finishes on the 2017-’18 campaign is one of these “can’t miss kids” that seem to come around two to a generation nowadays. It’s time to see if he can live up the hype.
33. Paul Casey
It’s hard to believe Paul Casey has only won once on the PGA Tour, but it’s true. His lone victory came at the 2009 Shell Houston Open. Since and before then, people have wondered why in the hell he hasn’t won more.
Coming into his 9th season since last hoisting a trophy on Tour, Casey has something to prove. He’s long been the quintessential mid-pack fantasy player — the guy you can count on to make the cut and log a T-20 finish, but not to do much else. If you front load with big names, Casey is the sturdy first baseman keeping things from becoming too combustible.
After another winless PGA Tour campaign full of close calls, Casey, 40, might just be ready to win again — and again.
32. Patton Kizzire
Perhaps the most obvious thing that separates Patton Kizzire from the first three names listed before him is that he has already collected a PGA Tour win this season.
Currently first in FedExCup Points, Kizzire is already trending in the right direction for 2018. Along with his maiden victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship, Kizzire has also notched a T-4 at the OHL Mayakoba Classic and a T-10 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Obviously, that’s one hell of a start to the season — but it’s come in the somewhat watered-down fields that tend to come with the wrap around PGA Tour schedule.
It’s important to note, too, that Kizzire has been around for a while and with mixed results. It is possible he’s found that next gear, the one that really makes him something special and turns him into a household name. While I wouldn’t call him a fantasy stalwart just yet, his name is certainly one all serious fantasy players should know and be checking up on each week.
31. Austin Cook
Like Patton Kizzire, Austin Cook already has a PGA Tour win to his credit during the 2017-’18 season.
Cook, who claimed victory at the RSM Classic at Sea Island earned his PGA Tour card for the 2018 season after finishing 15th in the Web.com Tour money list last year. Now, he’s earned himself an invite to the Masters in April and a two year exemption on the big circuit. The win also makes him the obvious front runner for Rookie of the Year.
The win at Sea Island doesn’t appear to be an apparition, either. Along with the W, Cook has also collected a T-25 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and a T-20 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He’s also made the cut in all four starts.
Now, if anyone expects the University of Arkansas star to keep up this torrid rookie pace, their nuts — but it is safe to assume that the rookie haze that surrounds many of the guys making their first starts on the PGA Tour won’t show up around Cook. He’s proven he can handle the spotlight and should remain a viable sleeper option in all formats.