I joked in last year's opening that fantasy doesn't have a seat at the table when it comes to setting the PGA TOUR schedule. Well, I guess I'm paying the price for even mentioning it!
Thanks to a Monday finish of the Web.com Tour Championship, there are literally fewer than three days between when the final 25 cards for the 2017-18 season are determined and when they can first be used. The Safeway Open begins on Thursday, Oct. 5. As a result, this year's full-membership fantasy ranking trims the old commentary in favor of TOUR status and only the most important pieces of information. However, the depth remains.
Ranked No. 1 through No. 238, all golfers through the Non-exempt Medical Extensions are slotted, including Life Members Vijay Singh and Davis Love III. The only golfer with a shred of status omitted is PGA Professional National champion Omar Uresti, who gets six restricted starts. What's particularly interesting about him, though, is that he also has Veteran Membership on the PGA TOUR, so he might exceed that usual threshold. Still, only the deepest full-season salary gamers should nibble.
Other nuggets of relevance:
• All five golfers who earned fully exempt via the non-member top 125 in FedExCup points in 2016-17 accepted membership and are included: Ross Fisher, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren and Thomas Pieters.
• All golfers inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of Oct. 2 are included. However, only two are not members of the PGA TOUR: Matthew Fitzpatrick and Bernd Wiesberger.
• After sitting out the requisite season for failing to meet the membership minimum of 15 starts in 2015-16, Martin Kaymer has renewed his membership.
• Because 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett did not meet the membership minimum of 15 starts in 2016-17, he lost his membership privileges for 2017-18. And because he's outside the top 50 in the OWGR, he's omitted in this ranking.
• Jim Furyk will begin 2017-18 on Past Champion status, so he is also omitted. At fourth on the all-time money list, he's forgoing a career earnings exemption. He'll have two to burn, but it's a sensible decision to hold off for at least one season. He'll be plenty busy with duties as the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Unlike entering previous seasons, there aren't many changes to TOUR provisions that are terribly topical for fantasy gamers, but they are nonetheless of value to some:
• As relayed in this space last year, earnings are no longer used to determine PGA TOUR status (other than measuring position on the all-time money list). This is extended to new medical extensions for 2017-18. All are chasing goals only in FedExCup points only.
• With two new tournaments on the schedule – THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES (Oct. 18-22) and Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (March 22-25), there are now 49 events.
• New events cannot count toward the requirement for golfers who are not exempt from fulfilling the new-event provision introduced prior to 2016-17.
• The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will not feature a 54-hole/MDF cut (if necessary). It joins the majors and the first two events of the Playoffs, all of which already ignore it.
• The FedExCup champion will be exempt into the Sentry Tournament of Champions if not otherwise eligible.
Always complement this beast and all of my weekly content with regular visits to the Medical Extensions, Qualifiers and Reshuffle. At worst, they are updated weekly during the season.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO (i.e. "Roster game") and the One & Done are refreshing for the Safeway Open. Notables changes and enhancements are as follows:
• Actual FedExCup points earned at the conclusion of playoffs will determine bonus points in the Roster game. Customer fantasy scoring (measuring every stroke) will remain off during playoffs.
• A five-point bonus will be awarded in the Roster game for driving a par 4 or hitting a green on a par 5 in two strokes.
• The One & Done game remains the same, but a new visual for your selections throughout the season is scheduled to be introduced the week of the CIMB Classic.
All right, it's time to dive in. Asterisks fronting the names of 74 golfers signify bargains for full-season salary gamers who use actual prize money earned (member and non-member) in 2016-17.
In shifting to membership status to replace long-form comments below, the floors within fully exempt status yield exemptions into specific tournaments. Quite simply, the higher one finishes in the FedExCup standings, the greater the perks. This influences fantasy value, which will help explain why, for example, Xander Schauffele (Top 30) is No. 36 and Byeong Hun An (Top 125) is No. 63. Having access to a carte-blanche schedule will pay dividends.
Here's how the hierarchy shakes out:
• Top 125 in FedExCup points in 2016-17 … Projects entry into every open and the following the invitationals: CareerBuilder Challenge, RBC Heritage, THE PLAYERS and The National.
• Top 80 … Top 125 exemptions plus entry into the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational.
• Top 70 … Top 80 exemptions plus entry into the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
• Top 60 … Top 70 exemptions plus entry into the CIMB Classic and THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, both of which will make room for the top 60 available.
• Top 30 … Exemptions into every tournament before the Playoffs except the winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions, the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship.
This isn't constructed for any one fantasy format. It's meant as a guide both to convey street value and project long-term worth influenced in part on position in the overall pecking order at the start of the season. Consume it with flexibility and logic as it concerns your game. Build your team with a blend of finesse and aggression. Tilts wilt. Diversity contends.
Oh, and help yourself to the one-page printable cheat sheet. Good luck and enjoy!