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May 16 2012

8:07 PM

Fantasy gamers: It's time to plan

By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy columnist

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Like the decline of U.S. mail following the holidays, emails into FantasyInsider@charter.net were scant after last week's PLAYERS, at least for relevant submissions in this space. That's quite all right, however, as it offers great timing for gamers in full-season formats to plan ahead.

Unless you play a one-and-done that requires you to plug in an entire year's worth of what are basically guesses in early January, you're always on the hunt for value. The PGA TOUR season is long and it requires patience. Sometimes you just need to let your guys play golf.

Yet there are bubbles throughout the year when pouncing on certain guys makes more sense than during your draft. The first occurs at the end of the West Coast Swing when the Nationwide Tour and q-school graduates reshuffle for the first time. The second bubble falls in line with the second reshuffle following the Shell Houston Open. We are now entering the third bubble.

The top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking following this weekend's slate of tournaments worldwide will qualify for the field at the U.S. Open. The top 50 will earn exemptions into the British Open. And those are just the cracks in the dam for what will be a deluge of exemptions distributed by both majors in the coming weeks.

Numerous valuable fantasy investments will emerge at the qualifiers. U.S. Open sectional qualifying is contested on May 21 in Japan, May 28 in England and June 4 in the United States. Of the 72 that survived the cut at Congressional in last year's U.S. Open, 33 gained entry into the tournament through sectional qualifying. (Four started in local qualifying, including 2012 rookie Bud Cauley.)

The remaining International Final Qualifying sites for the British Open are held on May 21 in the U.S. and June 25 in Europe. Twelve berths at Local Final Qualifying on July 3 will also earn exemptions. Last year, 10 of the 71 in the field at Royal St. George's gained entry via an IFQ. Opening-round co-leader, Tom Lewis, was the lone representative of the dozen LFQers.

If you haven't already bookmarked my list of all golfers exempt into the four majors, the three World Golf Championships and THE PLAYERS, you can find it by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom to review all remaining qualifying criteria for the events that on tap in the coming months.

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