(Courtesy: Golf Digest)

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 40-21 have been released, we are half way home!

Now, 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 (Brooks Koepka), the connecting thread with there five players in that they all have extremely bright futures and undetermined ceilings. While some have already become household names, others are just about ready to start getting their due:

20. Brooks Koekpa

The only player on this portion of the list with a major championship, reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka enjoyed a career year in 2017. After a couple seasons of promise and success on the European Tour, Koepka made his mark state side. In 2018, he’s going to be one of the players everyone has their eye on — and for good reason. Unlike so many of the first-time major winners we’ve seen in the recent past, Koepka has the ability to win in bunches. He has the length off the tee and the touch around the greens that makes him a force to be reckoned with anywhere the Tour tees it up. From a fantasy standpoint, there are few players besides the Jordan Spieth’s and Dustin Johnson’s of the world who should more completely have your attention.

19. Cameron Smith

From the beginning of the 2017 season until his maiden victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (paired with Jonas Blixt), Cameron Smith appeared on the radars of almost every fantasy golfer. Consistency in the mix for top-25’s and top-10’s, the 24-year-old Aussie made his presence known from Vegas to Texas and into New Orleans. After the win? Smith struggled mightily — missing seven of his last ten cuts. In the new year, Smith certainly deserves some attention thanks to his undeniable talent, but the question remains as to which Smith will show up. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution to start.

18. Richie Werenski

For a long time, I thought my picking Richie Werenski would be poorly received since he’s from pretty close to my hometown and grew up playing a lot of the tracks I still play — but after a pretty sporty run into the FedExCup Playoffs last year, my love for Richie is not completely unfounded. Werenski had a bit of an up-and-down 2017, finishing strong with a runner-up at the Barracuda Championship and a T-10 at the Wyndham Championship. Before that run, however, came a stretch of five consecutive missed cuts. Obviously, the former “Big Break” winner has the tools, but the big question will be whether he can be consistent enough to be relied upon in 2018. Stay tuned.

17. J.J. SpaunĀ 

One of 2018’s early surprised, Web.com Tour graduate J.J. Spaun has turned heads and made the most of the early portion of the season. After nearly winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open before the last two or three holes relegated him to a T-10 showing, Spaun came back the next week with a T-14 at the OHL Mayakoba Classic and a T-2 at the RSM Classic. Not a bad run to end the early portion of your rookie campaign on, huh? Now, obviously, Spaun will be teeing it up in fields that are a little more stout than the RSM, OHL, and Shriners once the 2018 season kicks into high gear — but he’s already proven a few things. First, he can take a punch and come right back. Second, he plays well when he’s supposed to and make the most of tournaments where he may not have his best stuff. There will certainly be a learning curve that fantasy owners much expect and be weary of, but Spaun is worth keeping in mind when you need a sleeper.

16. Tony FinauĀ 

It seems like it’s been a long time coming for Tony Finau, but 2018 may finally be the year he breaks through to superstardom a la Brooks Koepka in 2017. If Finau’s four fall starts are any indication, y’all can fasten your seatbelts and start trying to lock him up in fantasy leagues. Four finishes of T-26 or better, nearly won the Safeway Classic and has already showed slight improvements in the once area that plagued him in the recent past — his putting. If Finau can get/keep the flat stick going, the rest of the Tour should be on notice. Big things are coming — it’s not a matter of it, only when.

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