(Courtesy: NY Times)

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.

Just because the PGA Tour is off until January 4th and the only golf being played on American soil is meaningless doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about Fantasy golf.

In fact, if you’re a serious player and you’re NOT thinking about fantasy right now, you’re being lapped and you’re wish for 2018 may end up being for a mulligan.

Now that names 40-31 have been released, it’s time to delve into a handful of names who should already be on the minds of any good fantasy player — or anyone who wants to be a better fantasy player.

While this portion of the list includes a major winner, Tour winners and can’t-miss kids, they all have one thing in common: they have something to prove in 2018.

30. Henrik Stenson

Always a fantasy favorite, Henrik Stenson spent more time on the bench then he did on the field in 2017. At least, from a fantasy standpoint. Stenson, who shed the title “best to never” when he captured the 2016 Open Championship, was poised to continue his hot streak into 2017 until injury slowed him for much of the campaign. Stenson is no stranger to making comebacks and, despite being 41, he ought to be on everyone’s radar in 2018.

29. Ollie Schniederjans

While most were watching Xander Schauffele dominate the rookie headlines in 2017, Ollie Schniderjans was quietly putting together and excellent maiden full campaign. Now, he’s set to break on through in 2018. Schniderjans collected a runner-up at the Wyndham Championship in August and a T-3 showing last April at the RBC Heritage. One of the can’t-miss kids on Tour, Schniederjans is a popular choice for many to win — and win big — in 2018. You’d be remiss to keep him off your cheat sheets in the new year.

28. Patrick Rodgers

The 2018 PGA Tour season could be the break out year for the class of 2015. Sure, Patrick Rodgers made his debut on the big Tour well before the 2015 season, but that year marked his first full run. Ever since then, we’ve been waiting for Rodgers to win. Once a can’t-miss kid, Rodgers — though still very young at 25 — seems to be at point in his career that many want to see something happen. Despite flashes of brilliance in 2017 (runner-up at the John Deere Classic; T-4 at the Farmers) the year was very much a disappointing one for him, missing 16 of 27 cuts.

27. Kevin ChappellĀ 

After eight years of fighting, clawing and hanging on, Kevin Chappell finally had his break out year in 2017. Along with eight top-25 finishes and making 21 of 28 cuts, Chappell also collected the first win of his PGA Tour career at the Valero Texas Open. He also claimed his second best career finish in a major — T-7 at the Masters — en route to his best year on Tour. So what does 2018 hold? Many believe Chappell will continue to improve, win again and perhaps even vie for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. I count myself among them — and you should at least be paying attention to him early in 2018 in preparation for the summer crunch.

26. Si Woo KimĀ 

Perhaps no win in 2017 was more of a shock than Si Woo Kim’s PLAYERS Championship triumph — but, perhaps, we should’ve just been paying closer attention. The 22-year-old Korean stud’s win at TPC Sawgrass was the second of his young career — his first came at the end of 2016 when he claimed victory at the Wyndham Championship. That year, he made a FedExCup run that landed him in the top 30 at year’s end. Still, he has yet to become a household name on the big Tour. Why? Consistency. Kim struggles — like so many young players do — to keep momentum rolling in the right direction. He’s not quite as streaky as, say, Billy Horschel, but has yet to prove he can log top-25 finishes week in week out, make cuts week in, week out or that he should be trusted week in, week out in fantasy formats. For now, he’s merely a horse for a course — but a little more maturing could turn Si Woo Kim into the household name deserving of our undivided attention.

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