Every now and again, you'll bump into the phrase, Special Temporary Membership. Whether it be during a telecast, something you read (including in my work, most often in the weekly Rookie Ranking) or even on my Twitter using the microblogging platform-friendly "STM," pay attention for long enough and it'll happen.
Even veteran gamers require a refresher on what it means, how it applies, why it's relevant, etc. With Erik van Rooyen recently joining Will Gordon as Special Temporary Members in 2019-20, this is a great time to review and expand.
For fantasy purposes, I've always distilled the value of accepting STM to three benefits in the season a non-member becomes eligible for it:
1) It allows non-members unlimited starts (instead of the usual restriction of 12 plus special exemptions);
2) It allows non-members unlimited sponsor exemptions (instead of capping them at seven);
3) It positions the golfer in the Beyond 150 Reshuffle (with Past Champions and Veteran Members).
But that's not all. Other than the potential marketing value for business purposes for the golfer, he wouldn't have to go through pre-qualifying in open events for three years (should he somehow fall short of cracking the top 125 among members with his non-member equivalent of FedExCup points).
He'd also be eligible for sponsor exemptions restricted to members. How sponsor exemptions are distributed often generates frustration on Twitter because some fans aren't familiar with how fields are constructed. Not all sponsor exemptions are unrestricted, but achieving STM opens that door.
A confusing component about STM is that despite what the label states, golfers who achieve remain non-members unless they win a tournament in the same season. This means that they are ineligible for the FedExCup Playoffs reserved for members only.
Yet another wrinkle is that FedExCup points retroactively earned in World Golf Championships contribute to a non-member's equivalent to qualify for STM, but if he wins, they do not contribute to his official total for ranking in the FedExCup standings.
For most intents and purposes, STM makes sense for U.S.-based talent targeting a full-time commitment on the PGA TOUR. Many internationals are pursuing the same, especially the younger golfers who might have played collegiately in the United States, but veterans comfortably positioned inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking have been known to decline. Quite frankly, they haven't needed it. With so many of the world's best taking up membership on the TOUR in the last few years, and with the Playoffs shifted up a month, there's more incentive for all internationals to consider it, but because they already are on our fantasy radars, it's not news when one doesn't accept.
This season's target to achieve STM is 288.035 points. That was Martin Kaymer's total for finishing 150th in the 2018-29 FedExCup. Because 2019-20 was contracted due to the pandemic, the same target will be used for 2020-21. For more on all adjustments and how they impact fantasy moving forward, please read my primer here.
As we enter this week's Wyndham Championship to conclude the regular season, there are eight golfers inside the top 125 of the FedExCup standings who haven't recorded a top 10 this season. Among them, only Keegan Bradley (at 107th) isn't committed to the tournament.
In a normal year – remember what that was like?; me neither – there are many more tournaments (as opposed to this season's 33 before the Playoffs), so it's flat-out hard to finish inside the top 125 without at least one top 10. Consider that all Playoffs-eligible golfers in 2018-19 recorded at least one and that there have been just eight golfers in the last five seasons combined to reach the Playoffs sans a top-10 finish.
Incidentally, because the Wyndham ends the regular season, if any golfer records a top 10 this week but fails to make the Playoffs, the top-10 exemption will carry over to the Safeway Open on Sept. 10-13.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Wyndham Championship (in alphabetical order):
Si Woo Kim
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Christiaan Bezuidenhout; Maverick McNealy; Patrick Reed; Charl Schwartzel; Kristoffer Ventura
Driving: Paul Casey; Corey Conners; Sergio Garcia; Henrik Norlander; Doc Redman; Josh Teater; Harold Varner III
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Brandt Snedeker … Since withdrawing just prior to the Memorial with a sore back, he went T67-T51 in Memphis and San Francisco. Not great, but it could've been worse. He's so comfortable in Greensboro that the horse-for-a-course theory is the preferred. In 11 appearances at Sedgefield, he's won (2018), finished T3, T5 (twice) and T8. Fun fact: His first-round 59 en route to victory two years ago included an opening bogey after which he remained 1-over through three holes.
Charl Schwartzel … Fulfilled the terms of his medical extension at the PGA Championship but he's 125th in the FedExCup, so while his status is safe for 2020-21, a Playoffs appearance isn't. Hasn't appeared at Sedgefield since 2015, but he placed T3 that week. Also hung up a T3 at the Barracuda two weeks ago.
Sergio Garcia … The 2012 champ is 134th in the FedExCup and he's perfect in four trips to Sedgefield, but his form has been relatively lackluster after a T5 at Harbour Town. We also saw him come up short in the same situation just two years ago. Slotted 131st in points, he finished T24 to finish 128th. So, he's best reserved for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf due to its restriction on starts and value in making the cut.
Corey Conners … Statistically, he should roll out of bed and record a top 25. He has three in seven starts this summer. As one of the best ball-strikers, his result will boil down to his putter as usual, but he's fared OK at Sedgefield with a scoring average of 67.38 in eight rounds. Finished T22 last year.
Pat Perez … Not quite on a heater, but he's played much better post-hiatus than in his first five starts of 2020. Top 25s in his last two starts and safely inside the Playoffs bubble at 74th in points.
Matthias Schwab … He's in position to look back on this moment of his career as a turning point. Before missing the cut in the PGA Championship, he secured a start at the Wyndham with his top 10 at the Barracuda (because the Wyndham is the next open that follows). While he didn't help himself at TPC Harding Park, he's chasing no worse than a solo 36th-place finish at Sedgefield to have a chance to finish inside the top 125 with his non-member FedExCup points. The Vanderbilt product hits lots of greens, so he's in possession of the proper skill set to replicate the kind of attack mentality that begot an eagle and 19 birdies two weeks ago.
Doc Redman … He's 0-for-2 at Sedgefield, but the course is a beaut for the Clemson product. He's also a first-time PGA TOUR member this season, so in one sense, his relevant history starts now. A terrific ball-striker with three top 25s in the restart and a T29 in his PGA Championship debut.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout … Gained entry with one of the last sponsor exemptions of the season. The 26-year-old from South Africa needs a top 25 to consider finishing inside the top 125 with his non-member equivalent of FedExCup points. That within-reach possibility is evidence of a compressed season during which he's just 6-for-9 and without a top-15 finish. However, all of his paydays were as a result of a top 30. He's a terrific putter, so managing his game tee to green could be the difference in his tournament debut.
Harold Varner III
J.T. Poston … Some first-time defending champions are automatic no-plays for various reasons. He's not that. His moxie expresses the vibe that he's been there before. But he's not an automatic go-to, either. After reopening the season with a pair of top 10s, he's gone 2-for-5 during which the better result (T30) was in an event with no cut (WGC-St. Jude). Probably will be over-owned in most circles, anyway.
Jordan Spieth … With greens that average 6,000 square feet, Sedgefield could prove to be a challenge for his ball-striking. Although it contradicts conventional wisdom that larger greens benefit those struggling to find them regularly, they also reward those who do. He's done his best work on the smallest or fastest greens in 2020, but neither variable modifies this week's targets.
Tommy Fleetwood … His class is permanent, we know that, but his inability to connect for something special since resuming his season with a missed cut at the 3M Open is curious. Perhaps he was behind his peers, relatively speaking – that can't be ruled out – but he's yet to find a patented groove. He's a trap in his debut in a shootout in which anything can happen and often does.
Sungjae Im … Continues to pace the PGA TOUR in red numbers with 56, but they haven't been low enough to prop him up on a leaderboard since a T10 at Colonial. Opened a T6 in his debut here last year with a career-low 62, and he can hang on any racetrack, but the recent inconsistency tarnishes his value.
Troy Merritt … Given that he's 77th in the FedExCup and with no better than a T28 in six trips to Sedgefield, this week would have made sense to rest given that he's yet to take a break since play resumed. The close call (solo second) at the Barracuda is the only cut made in his last four starts.
Danny Willett … A T4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic looks more and more like a tease. It's his only top-30 finish among three paydays in seven starts since play resumed. At 143rd in the FedExCup, he has a bit too much work ahead as he gets his first look at Sedgefield.
Luke List … He's continued to play well since the win on the Korn Ferry Tour in June, but he's 0-for-3 at Sedgefield with only two red numbers. At best, inject him fractionally as a contrarian in DFS.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Branden Grace … Last saw him at the Barracuda Championship where he withdrew at the midpoint after testing positive for COVID-19. He was just two Modified Stableford scoring points back of Kyle Stanley's lead at the time. The South African had missed the cut in his previous four starts, so his form had returned if for but two rounds. He's 2-for-2 at Sedgefield but without a top 45. At 162nd in the FedExCup, he won't leave anything on the table this week.
Charles Howell III … Opted out of the PGA Championship with an unspecified injury. Since the Wyndham Championship moved to Sedgefield in 2008, he's registered three top 25s, including a T22 last year. We know how much he loves to go low, so our faith should be rooted in his commitment to play
Kiradech Aphibarnrat … Previously planned to wait until the 2020-21 season was underway to return, so this is a bonus start for the Thai and his investors. He needs a podium finish to qualify for the Playoffs.
Anirban Lahiri … After months of isolating in India, he recently returned to his Florida home in preparation of the Wyndham Championship where he's 2-for-2 since 2017. It's his first action anywhere since pre-hiatus and he's 219th in FedExCup points. Short of a breakthrough victory or runner-up finish, don't be surprised if he stays warm on the Korn Ferry Tour before the 2020-21 season begins next month.
Grayson Murray … Alerted his followers on Instagram on July 19 (in a since-deleted post) that he couldn't play the 3M Open because he tested positive for COVID-19. He would have been making his first start since withdrawing from the Workday Charity Open during the second round with his chronically sore back. Sits 183rd in the FedExCup.
Vince Covello … First start since missing the cut at the Farmers in late January. He's been resting and recovering from a back injury suffered 14 months ago, but he had a successful run on the Korn Ferry Tour early in 2019 and hung on for a PGA TOUR card. Sedgefield presents as a soft landing for the 37-year-old rookie. His strength is the absence of a glaring weakness (save inexperience), but this week's primary objectives are to reignite the competitive juices and brush off the rust.
Michael Kim … Walked off Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Course during his first round of the Barracuda Championship with an injured back. It was his fourth mid-tournament WD of the season. He dealt with a sore wrist in the fall. It's been 22 months since he cashed in a tournament with a cut.
Abraham Ancer … Steady as he goes, which is directly into the Playoffs with a strong chance to return to the TOUR Championship. Currently 13th in the FedExCup but still without a victory. In due time, no doubt.
Lanto Griffin … Maybe it was or maybe it wasn't a tough decision to opt for a break in advance of his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs. He's currently 12th in points, but he'd have needed no worse than a three-way T3 at Sedgefield to crack the top 10 and collect a bonus in the Wyndham Rewards.
Mackenzie Hughes … How he's managed his schedule has been a prime example for all gamers who aren't yet familiar with the knobs and levers of eligibility criteria. Consider that of the 10 weeks through the Wyndham Championship since play resumed, he's played seven times and withdrew early from the other three. There are many reasons to go week-to-week and adjust accordingly, but performance often is the leading factor. Strong efforts at the Travelers (T3) and Memorial (T6) yielded opportunities that didn't exist during the hiatus. While he's still in an mildly amusing pattern whereby all three of his top-40 finishes this season are top sixes, his current streak of six consecutive cuts made equals a career long. Now 49th in FedExCup points, he's positioned to pay off the hard work in the Playoffs.
Alex Noren … Despite his international pedigree, it's always a noteworthy success when a PGA TOUR non-winner on conditional status qualifies for the FedExCup Playoffs. He's 72nd in points. Playing time is limited and scheduling can be difficult, but the Swede navigated the strangest season in memory masterfully. Because of his cachet and terrific recent form, he's poised to make noise beginning at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
Vaughn Taylor … This marks his third early WD in as many weeks. He exited the Barracuda Championship with a sore rib and passed on the PGA Championship. At 70th in the FedExCup, he could sit out THE NORTHERN TRUST and still advance in the Playoffs.
J.B. Holmes … Also withdrew early from last week's PGA Championship. He's been out since leaving the Workday Charity Open before his second round a month ago with a sore shoulder. At 147th in the FedExCup, he'll get another month of rest.
Cameron Tringale … The unfortunate experience of getting disqualified from the PGA Championship for signing an incorrect scorecard won't come at the cost of falling short of the Playoffs. He's 82nd in points
Jimmy Walker … Just 1-for-6 since play resumed and 175th in the FedExCup. After qualifying for the Playoffs for nine consecutive years, he's missed the last two.
Hudson Swafford … After going 1-for-4 on the PGA TOUR in the restart, he'll miss the Playoffs and begin 2020-21 with three starts on his Major Medical Extension to earn 110.733 FedExCup points and retain status. He's only 23.186 points shy of securing conditional status as a safety net, so he's playing the long game here. He's currently 163rd in the FedExCup and would need to finish no worse than fourth place outright at Sedgefield to consider having a chance to make the Playoffs. While collecting any FedExCup points would contribute to the goal to fulfill his medical, his recent form in conjunction with a forgettable record on the course (2-for-3, no top 65s) warrant the decision to remain patient to strike when it makes more sense.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Justin Thomas T37
2 Webb Simpson T37
3 Brooks Koepka T29
4 Bryson DeChambeau T4
5 Jon Rahm T13
6 Tyrrell Hatton MC
7 Matthew Fitzpatrick MC
8 Jason Day T4
9 Xander Schauffele T10
10 Patrick Cantlay T43
11 Daniel Berger T13
12 Gary Woodland T58
13 Dustin Johnson T2
14 Tommy Fleetwood T29
15 Brendon Todd T17
16 Rickie Fowler MC
17 Rory McIlroy T33
18 Kevin Na MC
19 Hideki Matsuyama T22
20 Matt Wallace T77
Wild Card Collin Morikawa Win
SLEEPERS RECAP – PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Cameron Champ T10
Corey Conners MC
Dylan Frittelli T33
Adam Hadwin T58
Lucas Herbert MC
Max Homa MC
Mackenzie Hughes T58
Ryo Ishikawa MC
Adam Long T51
Mike Lorenzo-Vera T43
Joost Luiten T51
Joaquin Niemann MC
J.T. Poston T75
Doc Redman T29
Brendan Steele T22
Steve Stricker MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
August 11 … Morgan Hoffmann (31)
August 12 … Chase Seiffert (29)
August 13 … Tommy Gainey (45)
August 14 … Lucas Bjerregaard (29)
August 15 … Ted Purdy (47); Harold Varner III (30)
August 16 … none
August 17 … none