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Culp's Corner

Top 125 Rankings for 2018

by Josh Culp
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

With the PGA TOUR pressing pause for the holiday break, now is a great time to reflect and reset expectations for the upcoming year. Continuing with a tradition started by Ryan O'Sullivan, I will provide my current market value for the top 125 golfers on the PGA TOUR. 
 
Weekly formats like DFS are rapidly growing but there are still plenty of gamers just getting their leagues started in Hawaii. The rankings below should help you build your draft board. 
 
Other than using this list as a cheat sheet for season-long drafts. It should also be useful to bookmark it and return throughout the season. It's easy to get worked up in current form as the season goes on, but sometimes it is very valuable to press the "zoom out" button and get a bigger picture. 
 
The rankings do not look at one specific format, instead, I tried to provide a general ranking of the golfers, putting an emphasis on youth and upside for any gamers that are drafting for a dynasty league. If your league has deep rosters then you should boost up the guys with low volume but high efficiency and vice versa. 
 
I've included the age and a few strokes-gained metrics along with each golfer. The stats should be pretty self-explanatory but for clarity, these 2017 strokes gained numbers look at the entire calendar year, not just last season. The 4-year weighted strokes gained rank looks at performance since the start of 2014, with the recent years weighted more heavily. With all three of the categories, the strokes are adjusted for the strength of competition faced in each round. 
 
A quick way to think of these: 
 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank = Quantity
2017 Strokes Gained per Round = Quality
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank = Long-Term Baseline
 
At the end, I will round things up with a few lists that point out candidates I think are in great position to break out in 2018 and also a list of golfers that are ready to earn their first PGA TOUR win. 
 
Top 125


125. Jim Furyk
 
Age: 47 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 133 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 126 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 35 
2018 Outlook: He's not taking his career earning exemption which means his starts will be limited this year. That tells us he's confident he will play well enough in his limited starts or else he wants to use this year to get back in form while focusing on the Ryder Cup, then use his exemption next year and attack in full force. That makes him a risky option, especially when you consider his age and massive performance decline in 2017. 

 

124. Martin Flores 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 108 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 128 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 121 
2018 Outlook: His long-term metrics show a very average TOUR golfer in all four sub-categories of strokes gained. It's not a terrible thing but it also helps explain why he's never won more than $1.035 million in any single season. He's not afraid to take it low on any given round though, leading or co-leading four times in his PGA TOUR career, but he hasn't been able to piece it together for all four rounds. 

 

123. Nick Watney 
Age: 36 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 112 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 120 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 111 
2018 Outlook: This five-time TOUR winner lost strokes to the field in 12 of his last 16 starts to end the 2017 calendar year. A slight bump in the road or the breadcrumbs leading to a full decline? 

 

122. Blayne Barber 
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 131 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 143 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 132 
2018 Outlook: Posted top 25s in 15 of his 30 career Web.com Tour starts but still sits at just 14 top 25s thru 84 starts on the PGA TOUR. His lacks of distance doesn't translate to most TOUR venues and his lack of secure status forces him to play in as many events as possible. If he manages to lock up one or two top-heavy finishes then we may see his efficiency soar as he's able to set his schedule and focus on courses that fit his eye. 

 

121. Aaron Baddeley 
Age: 36 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 118 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 116 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 116 
2018 Outlook: Still has one of the best short games on TOUR. The problem is finding courses that limit his damage from tee-to-green.

 

120. Brian Gay 
Age: 46 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 77 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 94 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 142 
2018 Outlook: He earned $524,742 during the fall schedule, already more than 50% his earnings from last season. He hasn't eclipsed $1.5 Million since 2010 and is closer to 50 years of age than 40. I wouldn't let a fast start to the new season fool me into drafting Gay. 

 

119. Billy Horschel 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 117 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 129 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 77 
2018 Outlook: Posted four top 5s last season including an out-of-form win at the Byron Nelson, but the rest of his season was dreadful. Finished outside the top 50 in 18 of his 28 starts. 

 

118. Si Woo Kim 
Age: 22 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 159 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 156 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 138 
2018 Outlook: He's just 22 years old but already a two-time TOUR winner. He's the king of mid-tourney WDs (7 in 77 starts) but it's hard to ignore those wins. 

 

117. Ryan Armour 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 91 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 98 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 118 
2018 Outlook: Someone you won't find me drafting personally, due to age, but he's shown the ability to stuff his approaches with the best of them. The ultimate late bloomer who is swinging well. Follow the form, if you must. 

 

116. Grayson Murray 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 115 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 140 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 140 
2018 Outlook: Rattled off three podium finishes in 17 starts on the Web.com Tour (2016) then won during his rookie season of the PGA TOUR. Sure, it was a weak field event, but his performance overall was solid in the second half of the season. Probably not a coincidence that he also implemented a Twitter ban right before that run of form. With his status locked up until 2019, will we see him go back to his old ways or can he stay focused? 

 

115. Sam Saunders 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 110 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 122 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 154 
2018 Outlook: Posted a career high in terms of top 25s last season (7) but it still wasn't enough to crack the FedExCup Playoffs. He's now fallen short of the Playoffs in all three tries on the PGA TOUR. Showing a bit more comfort on the courses last year, I think 2018 is finally the year he makes his debut in THE NORTHERN TRUST. 

 

114. Russell Knox 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 119 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 130 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 62 
2018 Outlook: At this time last year he was sitting inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings. The Scot is now ranked 75th in the world. His approach AND putting numbers have both shown massive declines. He was one of the steadiest options for a few years but now we see him drifting toward Brendon Todd territory. 

 

113. Scott Stallings 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 87 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 111 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 146 
2018 Outlook: A three-time TOUR winner but still has more missed cuts (98) than cuts made (90) over his career. 

 

112. Morgan Hoffmann 
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 90 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 114 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 130 
2018 Outlook: Recently came out to share his battle with muscular dystrophy. He's been playing through this since he first noticed it in 2011, so we shouldn't let it affect our grading of him for 2018. Has elite short game but very inconsistent with his irons. 

 

111. C.T. Pan 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 106 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 132 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 123 
2018 Outlook: A four-time All-American at the University of Washington, his game has yet to translate to the big stage. He found a trio of top 10s during his rookie year but missed the cut in 15 of his 29 starts. Similar to Michael Kim and Blayne Barber, he would benefit from some more secure status, giving him the ability to play more courses that don't demand distance. 

 

110. Mac Hughes 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 94 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 123 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 114 
2018 Outlook: A winner during his rookie year, that win was the only event that saw him gain 8+ strokes over the field. In 33 ShotLink starts, he averaged 1.2 strokes gained putting over the field but -1.3 strokes gained on approach. That is ELITE putting, so we can target him on tracks where the tee-to-green test is easy, letting his putter do all the work. 

 

109. Robert Streb 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 88 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 117 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 95 
2018 Outlook: It might be safe to declare the 2014-15 season as an outlier. That was the year he won his first (and still only) event en route to $3.9 million in earnings. He looked like a top-25 golfer in the world that year, posting top 25s in 16-of-30 starts. More realistic expectations are for him to finish somewhere in the 60-to-120th range in the FedExCup standings.
 
108. Luke Donald 
Age: 39 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 123 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 97 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 84 
2018 Outlook: Earned less than $1 million last year for the first time since the 2003 season. His glory days are over but he still provides value on the courses where he's historically crushed it.  

 

107. Chad Campbell 
Age: 43 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 76 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 108 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 96 
2018 Outlook: Finished top 100 in the FedExCup standings for three straight years but he closed the 2017 calendar year by losing strokes to the field in seven straight starts. Just fatigue? Or a sign of decline for the aging Texan? 

 

106. Ben Martin 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 86 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 110 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 112 
2018 Outlook: Didn't have instant success on the PGA TOUR but he's now rattled off five straight seasons of five or more top 25s. Snuck into the Playoffs last year at 121st in the standings. 

 

105. Brandon Hagy 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 103 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 118 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 119 
2018 Outlook: This bomber has lost strokes off-the-tee just eight times in his career (39 starts). Unfortunately, he rarely shines in the approach department (just one start with 4+ strokes approaching-the-green). Had his first taste of a PGA TOUR lead in 2017 (R1, RBC Canadian Open). He is a really fun golfer to own, given his massive length off the tee, but he still owns just one top 10 in his career. Keep your expectations reasonable. 

 

104. Vaughn Taylor 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 80 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 102 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 100 
2018 Outlook: Has nearly twice as many cuts made (212) than missed cuts (128) over the course of his career. Still, he's never earned more than $1.8 MM in a single season. A decent filler at the end of drafts, but don't get too excited. 

 

103. Bernd Wiesberger 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 109 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 42 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 61 
2018 Outlook: No status but at 39th in the OWGR he'll see him in plenty of big events.

 

102. Ben Silverman 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 136 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 45 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 44 
2018 Outlook: A small-sample hero who has been crushing it since his son was born in July. Just a year ago he was struggling on the Web circuit (5-for-16). I find it hard to trust that he'll maintain his recent hot streak but if we're drafting a hockey team, I'd rank him up there with Lingmerth and DeLaet. 

 

101. Michael Kim 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 101 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 127 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 127 
2018 Outlook: Has all the pedigree you could ask for (Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins Award winner). He's turned that into steady play on the PGA TOUR but we are still waiting for the breakout. With his lack of distance, he is at a big disadvantage on a lot of TOUR courses. Very reliant on putting right now, but it's definitely his biggest asset. He's gained 4 or more strokes putting in eight different events over the course of his young career. 

 

100. Andrew Landry 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 149 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 72 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 135 
2018 Outlook: First made waves when he was the surprise first-round leader at the 2016 U.S. Open. He entered the final round in a share of second place that week, fading to T15 by day's end. He didn't parlay that into a TOUR card but he did take his talents to the Web circuit and gained more strokes over the field than anyone else on the WCT in 2017. Age is a funny thing. If he had the same profile but he was 25 instead of 30 then I'd be gushing over him. Instead, I'm calling him a late bloomer and proceeding with cautious optimism. 

 

99. Patrick Rodgers 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 135 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 149 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 131 
2018 Outlook: Has all the pedigree you could ask for. Still getting comfortable on TOUR. He's seen so many of his friends find the winner's circle that 2018 may be a make-or-break season, mentally, for the Stanford standout. Has the all-around game to win multiple times in a season out here. I'm keeping him in the breakout category for another season. 

 

98. Wesley Bryan 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 107 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 135 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 122 
2018 Outlook: This trick-shot artist boasts some of the worst off-the-tee stats on TOUR. Everything else in his game is rock solid. That makes him an elite play on courses that take driver out of his hand but probably someone to avoid elsewhere (until he fixes his off-the-tee troubles). 

 

97. Danny Lee 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 78 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 106 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 92 
2018 Outlook: The recently-wed Texan has played in 124 events over the last four seasons. It's no wonder that his back acts up from time to time. His theory is that he's just going to be practicing at home anyway, might as well get paid to play. We've seen Lee finish as high as 9th on the FedExCup standings but 70th or lower in his four other seasons played. Perhaps his new wife will help explain that a lighter schedule might help him, efficiency and longevity wise. Still just 27 years old, he would be quite the bargain if you're able to draft him at 97th in your season-long leagues. However, he is only this low due to the risk factors involved in the heavy workload. 

 

96. Whee Kim 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 95 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 115 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 128 
2018 Outlook: Posted a career-best runner-up finish in June at the St. Jude. Then he matched it with a T2 at the Shriners (November). Kim also picked up two other top 5s during the 2017 calendar year. He is inching closer and closer to the winner's circle. Has one of the best short games on TOUR. Not the strongest from tee-to-green, but I would love to own Kim in 2018 and play him on short tracks and/or easy-to-score shootouts. A breakout candidate in 2018, especially if he improves his tee-to-green performance. 

 

95. James Hahn 
Age: 36 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 70 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 101 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 105 
2018 Outlook: If we were building a roster of 25 guys to meet on the PGA TOUR, Hahn would make my list. As for his playing abilities, they are a bit too hit-or-miss for me to trust with a high draft pick. Has rattled off at least two top 10s in all five seasons on TOUR.

 

94. Jhonattan Vegas 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 73 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 99 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 107 
2018 Outlook: I've always considered Vegas a hit-or-miss option for fantasy purposes but I may need to reconsider. Looking at his career resume, he's posted a cuts-made ratio of 67 percent, and most of that has been achieved without playing in a lot of the no-cut events that help pad the percentages for a lot of big-name stars. He's a three-time TOUR winner, makes a lot of cuts, and has played 27+ events in each of the last three seasons. 

 

93. Graeme McDowell 
Age: 38 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 89 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 82 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 86 
2018 Outlook: Will need to pick up his game in 2018 to avoid losing status. Finished just 136th in the FedExCup standings last season but he's still leaning on the status earned from his OHL Classic win. Has admitted it's tough to stay on a tight practice regime when he's also focused on being a dad. Since 2014 he's posted a strokes gained approach of 4+ in 12 events, but only two of those have come in the last two years. Slowly losing steam but still has the game to contend, particularly on the shorter tracks that require short irons and good putting. 

 

92. Seamus Power 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 84 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 95 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 94 
2018 Outlook: Posted a solid 19-for-25 record during his rookie campaign. Couldn't find many top-heavy finishes though, so he was forced to play well in the Web.com Tour Finals to retain his card. Playing out of the 28th spot on the reshuffle, he'll need to make some early waves to pick up any mid-season starts. 

 

91. Alex Noren 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 121 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 74 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 80 
2018 Outlook: The Swede played golf at Oklahoma State but he's pegged it in just 35 PGA TOUR events since graduation. After a career year in 2016, he was able to play his way into some big events and then earn his PGA TOUR playing privileges by playing well in those events. Like plenty of the other European Tour talents, it comes down to scheduling. If he follows a similar route as fellow Swede, Stenson, then we'll only get the bare minimum of 15-to-17 starts. Adjust accordingly based on your league settings and roster size. 

 

90. Chesson Hadley 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 125 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 64 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 144 
2018 Outlook: Gamers that just started playing fantasy golf in 2017 are probably confused at why Hadley is so low on this list. He won twice on the Web.com Tour and then posted a trio of top 5s in his five fall appearances. While I understand the narrative that he's not taking his TOUR card for granted this time around, I am also not going to ignore the years worth of data that shows him as a talented (yet streaky) golfer that can pop up to win any event but can also go on runs of five straight missed cuts. If you want to trust the narrative and the 6-month hot streak then you'll want to bump up Hadley at least 40 spots. Otherwise, I think he's a fair draft pick if he falls around the 100 mark. 

 

89. Harold Varner III 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 69 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 104 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 103 
2018 Outlook: Surprisingly hasn't led after ANY round on the PGA TOUR. I'd expect that to change in 2018. Has six career rounds of 7-under or better. He can catch fire quickly. 

 

88. Matthew Fitzpatrick 
Age: 23 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 124 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 76 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 68 
2018 Outlook: Amazing that he's still just 23 years old. He doesn't have any PGA TOUR status at the moment or else he'd easily be in the top 50. Looking at his 2017 numbers on the European Tour, the only golfers that posted better strokes gained per round in 2017 (min 30 rounds) were Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Peter Uihlein. Fitz is the youngest of the bunch. It all boils down to status, though. A high-risk pick since he'll only have WGCs, majors, and sponsor's invite to earn that status, while also maintaining a schedule on the Euro Tour. 

 

87. William McGirt 
Age: 38 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 72 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 93 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 79 
2018 Outlook: Went through a rough patch mid-2017, finishing outside the top 40 in 11 straight events. Finished strong with finishes of T10 and T8 at the Shriners and RSM Classic. Most of his success has come on short Bermuda tracks but his lone win came at Muirfield Village, a demanding track with bentgrass greens. Go figure. 

 

86. Steve Stricker 
Age: 50 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 75 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 22 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 25 
2018 Outlook: He still has the game to contend out on TOUR but at his age, he is perfectly content with a very limited schedule. He will also likely spend a bit more time on the Champions circuit. Hard to get too excited about drafting him. 

 

85. Sean O'Hair 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 79 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 87 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 93 
2018 Outlook: The four-time winner hasn't found the circle since 2011 but has posted 23 top 25s over the past three seasons. The Texan has finished runner-up once in all three of those seasons. The game isn't showing any decline so I'd look for more of the same in 2018. 

 

84. Scott Brown 
Age: 34 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 52 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 96 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 109 
2018 Outlook: Very steady off the tee, struggles on approach and around the greens. Runs hot and cold with the flat stick. That's the recipe for a lot of top 50s but he'll need to make some strides with his irons if he wants to turn those top 50s into top 20s on a consistent basis. 

 

83. Kevin Streelman 
Age: 39 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 62 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 85 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 89 
2018 Outlook: A steady grinder approaching his 40s. Has earned between $890K and $1.6 Million in 8-of-10 seasons on TOUR. 

 

82. Anirban Lahiri 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 83 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 92 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 98 
2018 Outlook: At times you wonder how he hasn't won on TOUR. Other times you wonder how he has a TOUR card. Took him a few years to get comfortable on American soil, particularly dealing with the grass types. Should be ready to kick it up a notch and perhaps show why he won seven times on the Asian Tour. 

 

81. Ross Fisher 
Age: 37 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 128 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 62 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 47 
2018 Outlook: His first attempt at playing on the PGA TOUR resulted in a 7-for-15 record back in 2013. He'll give it another go in 2018. Has the skills to contend in the strongest of fields, so he should really rake in a few weaker-field events. Has a home in Lake Nona so playing in America won't require any learning. 

 

80. Beau Hossler 
Age: 22 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 137 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 137 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 137 
2018 Outlook: I think we need to throw out his early PGA TOUR results since he was not 100% healed from his shoulder injury. Now with a card locked up and health looking great, Hossler is a prime candidate for a breakout season. 

 

79. Aaron Wise 
Age: 21 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 139 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 91 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 102 
2018 Outlook: Won the 2016 NCAA Individual title while at Oregon. Took him just two starts on the Mackenzie Tour to find the winner's circle and proceeded to win on the Web.com Tour. Just like Spaun, he looks like to have the winning edge. He's playing out of the Web.com Tour reshuffle category which is the only downside for Wise. Has more value in dynasty leagues but I fully expect him to contend a time or two in 2018. 

 

78. J.J. Spaun 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 68 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 90 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 99 
2018 Outlook: It took him 22 starts to win on the Mackenzie Tour and just 19 starts to win on the Web.com Tour. He's pegged it 36 times on the PGA TOUR now and appears to be circling in on that win. Finished the fall with finishes of T10, T14, RUNNER UP. Dealt with rib issues in the middle of 2017 but looks perfectly fine heading into 2018 as a breakout candidate. 

 

77. Bubba Watson 
Age: 39 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 97 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 103 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 29 
2018 Outlook: Was it the Volvik balls or was it the massive weight loss that produced the 2017 decline of Bubba? I guess we'll find out now that he's back to Titleist. A good rebound candidate in 2018 but as I point out later with Jason Day and Adam Scott, sometimes a rebound is easy to rationalize for a golfer but it's still very hard to find lost form. 

 

76. Kevin Tway 
Age: 29 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 65 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 86 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 113 
2018 Outlook: Tway is often still considered a "young gun" by many analysts but that's mostly due to him taking so long to cement his status. He was dreadful in his first attempt as a full-time PGA TOUR player but last year posted a 21-for-27 record. Finished the season ranked 39th in eagle rate. With a little confidence now under his belt, it might be time for "The Son of Bob" to finally breakout. 

 
~
 
Top 75


75. Hudson Swafford
 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 53 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 80 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 97 
2018 Outlook: A very similar game as Kokrak below. Swafford is prone to a few too many round-ruiners (double bogeys or worse) but he found a way to minimize those last season. Swafford posted career highs in earnings ($2.2 MM) and top 10s (4) while also picking up his first career win. Trending in the right direction as he enters his 30s. 

 

74. Jason Kokrak 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 56 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 83 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 78 
2018 Outlook: Has 16 career top 10s in 162 starts. His 2017 was a bit of a rollercoaster but it ended up in line with his 4-year weighted average. His distance makes him elite off the tee, but he'll need to tidy up the short game if he finally wants that first victory.

 

73. Nick Taylor 
Age: 29 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 49 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 81 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 115 
2018 Outlook: He won in his rookie campaign (2015) but posted a career-high in earnings last season. His strokes-gained metrics suggest that last year is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his potential. A good BREAKOUT CANDIDATE in 2018. Has never made it to the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs but I wouldn't be shocked if he made it all the way to East Lake this year.

 

72. Jimmy Walker 
Age: 38 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 81 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 68 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 49 
2018 Outlook: He was a late bloomer and may be an early exiter if his game doesn't recover from his horrible fight with Lyme disease.

 

71. J.B. Holmes 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 71 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 79 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 51 
2018 Outlook: His metrics didn't show any massive declines, he just couldn't piece together four straight rounds in 2017. That resulted in him finishing 95th in the FedExCup race despite a 19-for-23 record. Could be a great buy-low candidate. 

 

70. Emiliano Grillo 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 66 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 84 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 55 
2018 Outlook: Had a sophomore slump (67th in FedExCup) after flashing onto the scene his rookie year (11th in FedExCup). You don't need to pay top dollar to draft him this year but he still possesses plenty of upside. A good candidate to rebound in 2018. 

 

69. Stewart Cink 
Age: 44 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 27 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 46 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 70 
2018 Outlook: Entering his mid-40s, Cink still hits it a country mile. He does most of his scoring with his irons though. Hasn't posted a podium finish since 2009, but the birdies and paychecks are still producing consistently.

 

68. David Lingmerth 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 59 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 66 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 81 
2018 Outlook: Another book-end golfer that excels off-the-tee and with the putter. Despite his lack of length, he still piles up birdies. Posted a better birdie rate than the field in 11 of his last 14 starts. Entering his 30s, we might see him tidy up the missed cuts during his prime years. 

 

67. Lucas Glover 
Age: 38 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 23 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 41 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 66 
2018 Outlook: Going off 2017 alone, Glover looks like a steal if you draft him inside the top 40. However, last season was the first time he's cracked the $1 million mark in earnings since 2011. He should do so again considering he's already racked up $459,512 in the fall. Personally, I'm not ready to Sharpie him in as a safe draft pick based on one good bounce-back year.

 

66. Martin Kaymer 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 99 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 27 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 41 
2018 Outlook: Got a one-year slap on the wrist for only playing 10 events in 2016. He's now reinstated but will he care enough to make an attempt at 15+ starts in 2018? He remains a big-game hunter with his three wins coming at the PGA, THE PLAYERS, and the U.S. Open. His limited schedule reduced his value a lot, though. 

 

65. Bryson DeChambeau 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 67 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 88 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 91 
2018 Outlook: Looked like a for-sure flop after missing eight straight cuts in the middle of last season. Then something clicked and he rattled off four straight top 30s, closing with his maiden win at TPC Deere Run. Surely, the ditching of the side-saddle experiment helped his cause. Now he's back on the radar as a breakout candidate in 2018. Gained strokes off-the-tee in 18 of his last 21 ShotLink-lasered starts. 

 

64. Adam Hadwin 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 42 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 71 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 74 
2018 Outlook: Had a monster year in 2017, on and off the course. He won his first TOUR event and then went on to get married. The Canadian was a bit of an underachiever his first two seasons and likely overachieved last year. In 2018 I would expect something in between his 2016 season ($1.1 million) and last year ($3.5 million). 

 

63. Tiger Woods 
Age: 42 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 156 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 160 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 158 
2018 Outlook: The big cat is back! And I'm not talking Crypto Cats. Tiger entered the Hero World Challenge with a lot of hype and he lived up to that hype, even taking the solo lead at one point on Friday. This ranking is sort of a safe ranking. If you wait until 63 to draft Tiger, he will surely be swiped up before that. At the same time, we've been fooled many times by his "returns." I am definitely optimistic about this one, but cautiously optimistic. If you really want Woods on your roster, make sure you vault him way up your draft board, because his stock really climbed after a smooth Hero appearance. 

 

62. Cameron Smith 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 74 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 78 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 101 
2018 Outlook: Straight out of the Matthew Fitzpatrick mold, Smith is a youngster that crushes it the closer he gets to the hole. Perhaps as he matures he'll tidy up his tee-to-green skills. He HAS played well on some longer courses but most of his damage is being done on tight, fiddly tracks where wedge play and short game skills are at a premium. 

 

61. Graham DeLaet 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 55 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 61 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 73 
2018 Outlook: Continues to battle with back issues but he remains a threat on leaderboards when healthy. Hasn't posted a podium finish since 2014 but he did rack up six top 10s last year. Not bad for someone who doesn't care about your fantasy team. 

 
60. Ryan Moore 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 54 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 67 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 46 
2018 Outlook: We saw a dip in performance in 2017 and also a shoulder injury to go along with it. It's tough to gauge where Moore will go from here. By the end of 2018, we could be saying that his decline was easy to see coming, or we could be saying that he bounced back from injury nicely and all is well in the world again. 
 

59. Shane Lowry 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 92 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 48 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 40 
2018 Outlook: Enjoyed the thrills of becoming a dad last year, and perhaps that explains the quiet year. Still, his efficiency is strong (48th in strokes gained per round in 2017) and he still has TOUR status from his WGC win in 2015. Look elsewhere if you need tournament volume, though, as 18 starts on the PGA TOUR is probably the max for Lowry. 

 

58. Luke List 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 40 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 70 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 60 
2018 Outlook: The DFS darling racks up birdies with the best of them, despite a balky putter. He ended the calendar year losing strokes putting in 11 of his last 13 starts (with ShotLink). He lost 4+ strokes putting in SIX of those starts. His ball-striking remains elite but he can't break out until he figures out the flat stick. 

 

57. Martin Laird 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 44 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 55 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 72 
2018 Outlook: For some golfers course history just matters more. When you listen to Laird in interviews he often cites ball flight, shaping shots a particular way, and courses "fitting his eye." The Scot is one to target on comfy venues. 

 

56. Sung Kang 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 34 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 75 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 87 
2018 Outlook: This late bloomer has now finished inside the top 100 in the FedExCup race in two straight seasons. He's blossoming under the tutelage of George Gankas, and he continues to wait near the top of the list of golfers ready to earn their first TOUR win. 

 

55. Kevin Na 
Age: 34 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 47 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 57 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 38 
2018 Outlook:A disappointing 2017 for Na but even still he sits inside the top 60 in total strokes gained during 2017 and also strokes gained per round in 2017. A decent chance for a bounce-back season in 2018.

 

54. Charles Howell III 
Age: 38 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 46 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 59 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 57
2018 Outlook: Still grinding out top 30s with the best of them. Nearly hit the winner's circle twice last season but that's what his career has been all about, a lot of NEAR MISSES. Despite battling injury last year, he posted the third-highest earnings of his career ($2,606,383). Shockingly, hasn't crossed the $3 million mark in any season. 

 

53. Jason Dufner 
Age: 40 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 36 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 51 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 48 
2018 Outlook: Tied a career high with 14 top 25s last season. If you miss out on Bill Haas, then Dufner would be a good fill-in for his role (consistently post top 40s but also possess winning upside). 

 

52. Keegan Bradley 
Age: 31 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 33 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 65 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 50 
2018 Outlook: His putting struggles continue, post anchor ban. Became a father in November. Could Nappy Factor be the spark that jolts Bradley back into winning form? His approach game is still rock solid. 

 

51. Jamie Lovemark 
Age: 29 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 32 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 60 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 69 
2018 Outlook: A streaky golfer. Hard to peg where he'll pop. With two of his 10 career top 10s coming at Waialae, the Sony Open is a good place to start. 

 

50. Austin Cook 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 132 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 20 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 23 
2018 Outlook: The cat's out of the bag for this straight-shootin' Southerner. Looking at his 2017 Strokes Gained per Round, we see him ranked 20th. You might be saying that is due to a small sample that includes his stellar win at the RSM. However, that rank of 20 matches up pretty well with his long-term SG Rank of 23rd (since 2014). Not the longest off the tee, making him a great fantasy asset to use on shorter courses. I wouldn't argue if you wanted to comp him to Kevin Kisner. 

 

49. Byeong Hun An 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 64 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 69 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 76 
2018 Outlook: Much like Branden Grace, An's European Tour numbers suggest he should be in the elite tier. The game hasn't fully translated to the States just yet. The putter continues to hold him back, losing 4 or more strokes putting in nine events in his PGA TOUR career while gaining 4+ strokes putting just twice. Definitely a BREAKOUT CANDIDATE if he can improve his putting stroke. 

 

48. Peter Uihlein 
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 114 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 44 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 67 
2018 Outlook: Took the same route as Brooks Koepka out of college, but spent a few extra seasons overseas. Feeling a bit homesick, he's back in the States and enters as one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year. Throw him into the same category as Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka since they all call Florida home and can all hit the monster fades. This ranking of 48 may look foolish by year's end if he lives up to his potential. 

 

47. Xander Schauffele 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 41 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 56 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 64 
2018 Outlook: A phenomenal rookie season but a bit overrated, in my opinion, due to the pair of wins. I'm not suggesting the wins are unimpressive but let's imagine he finished runner-up in both of those events. The whole narrative would change quickly. Now if he comes back out in 2018 and picks up another win then I will gladly eat my words.  

 

46. Rafa Cabrera Bello 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 63 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 47 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 27 
2018 Outlook: Played in 19 PGA TOUR events last year, collecting four top 10s along the way. Might see a dip in putting but he should benefit from seeing some courses for a second time. 

 

45. Chez Reavie 
Age: 36 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 20 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 38 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 53 
2018 Outlook: Coming off the second-best season of his career (nine seasons with at least 15 starts). Had a top-25 rate of 17 percent before the start of last season. Since then he's posted top 25s in 16-of-33 starts (48%). That kind of increase is amazing, but is it sustainable? I'm a little pessimistic here. If you want to trust the improvement in his game, then definitely move him up your board. 

 

44. Bud Cauley 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 31 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 58 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 65 
2018 Outlook: His shoulder concerns look like a thing of the past as he compiled 28 starts last season, earning five top 10s along the way. BREAKOUT CANDIDATE in 2018. 

 

43. Bill Haas 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 39 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 50 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 34 
2018 Outlook: A six-time winner on TOUR, we know what we're getting with Haas. A steady cut-maker with the tools to win, given the right course conditions. We know it's advantageous to target him on courses that take driver out of his hand and let his approach play and short game do all the damage. 

 

42. Ian Poulter 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 45 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 32 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 58 
2018 Outlook: It's a Ryder Cup year so look for Poults to give it everything he's got to play his way onto (possibly) one last team. Still one of the best cut-makers on TOUR. Give him a boost in that regard, but do keep your expectations reasonable. He is entering his early 40s, after all. 

 

41. Kyle Stanley 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 15 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 33 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 75 
2018 Outlook: If we're giving out an award for Comeback Player of the Year, Stanley would definitely crack the list of finalists. At times he still looks lost with the putter in hand, but I'm not expecting him to take anything for granted this time around.

 

40. Gary Woodland 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 29 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 53 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 45 
2018 Outlook: Dealt with a lot of off-the-course issues in 2017, but still battled his way to the TOUR Championship. It's still surprising that he's picked up just two trophies on the PGA TOUR. If he can improve his short game at all, the hardware should start piling up.

 

39. Ollie Schniederjans 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 38 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 63 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 82 
2018 Outlook: Gets noticed for his lack of head hardware but it's the ball-striking that will find him in the winner's circle before long. Gained 4 or more strokes approaching-the-green in six of his 28 starts last season. When he gets dialed in, he really gets locked in. He's long off the tee, but has done most of his heavy lifting on shorter tracks that force him to club down. His killer ball flight makes him a no-brainer in events where the wind picks up or on links-style tracks that leave the course exposed to the elements.

 

38. Brandt Snedeker 
Age: 36 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 57 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 19 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 21 
2018 Outlook: His rib injury derailed a great season in 2017. If this were an isolated incident I wouldn't be too concerned. However, he has dealt with serious rib issues in the past, has eclipsed the 35-years of age marker, and has changed his swing to accommodate the injury. I would consider this a very risky draft pick in season-long leagues, which explains why he's dropped this far in my rankings.

 

37. Charl Schwartzel 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 50 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 43 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 30 
2018 Outlook: Seems like a boring option but sometimes boring is good for a fantasy team. He's missed just 28 cuts in 164 career starts on the PGA TOUR. Hasn't recorded more than 19 starts in any of his PGA TOUR campaigns, though. 

 

36. Thomas Pieters 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 104 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 54 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 56 
2018 Outlook: All of his ranks shown above are a bit misleading. The Belgian Bomber has four top 10s in 20 PGA TOUR starts. That is very solid, especially when you consider the strength of the field in most of those events. Now that he's picked up some PGA TOUR status, look for him to enter a few more weak-field events and showcase his true potential in 2018. Like Fleetwood, Hatton, et al. it all comes down to scheduling for Pieters. The tools to become a top-10 golfer in the world are all there. 

 

35. Branden Grace 
Age: 29 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 60 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 49 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 37 
2018 Outlook: His numbers on the European Tour are out of this world, winning eight events since 2012. So far that's translated to just ONE win in 84 starts on the PGA TOUR. You could consider him a big-time underachiever right now. He might not hold that same title by the end of 2018. Might win one or two times this year, with a major championship certainly possible. Played in 20 PGA TOUR events last season, which is great news for season-long drafts.

 

34. Tyrrell Hatton 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 98 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 36 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 19 
2018 Outlook: His stellar short game often overshadows the fact that he's a standout ball striker, as well. Pretty similar style as the man above him in these rankings (ZJ), just 15 years younger. If we knew he was planning a heavy schedule in the States then he'd rocket up this list, easily a top-25 option. However, that is the big question mark. 

 

33. Zach Johnson 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 26 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 40 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 26 
2018 Outlook: Another 41-year-old who can still hang, just like Perez and Hoffman. After winning 12 times in his first 12 seasons, he is now winless since the 2015 Open Championship. He still packs an all-around game, gaining strokes in all four sub-categories over his last 20 starts with ShotLink. I wouldn't count him out just yet, but his $4-million seasons are probably behind him at this stage of his career.

 

32. Charley Hoffman 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 31 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 42 
2018 Outlook: 30-start seasons are usually reserved for the foolish youngsters that try to retain their card through pure volume. In Hoffman's case, he was piling up starts in order to qualify for the Ryder Cup squad. Could we see fatigue set in next year? It wouldn't be too shocking.

 

31. Kevin Chappell 
Age: 31 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 37 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 52 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 52 
2018 Outlook: Chappie finally broke through and found the winner's circle! Doing a simple comparison of Perez above with Chappell, it looks like Perez is the easy pick. However, Chappell is 10 years younger and crashes into 2018 with newfound confidence. I think another big year is in store.

 

30. Pat Perez 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 11 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 23 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 39 
2018 Outlook: We know golf is not a game that truly limits by age, but Perez having a career year as he turns 40 is still amazing. He shattered his previous best season (in terms of earnings) by more than $2 million and then he went ahead and added another win in the fall. Perez has always been a steady cut-maker so he still holds plenty of value. Just don't assume he's going to win 1 out of every 15 tournaments like he has since the start of last season.

 

29. Brian Harman 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 13 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 30 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 59 
2018 Outlook: The lefty racked up $4,396,470 last season. It would have doubled his previous best season if he could have earned $432,198 more. Just now entering his 30s, we might be in for more of the same in 2018. I wouldn't Sharpie in another $4 million this year but he should definitely be targeted in the top 30, especially when you consider he's posted 29 or more starts in six straight seasons. 

 

28. Adam Scott 
Age: 37 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 51 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 29 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 12 
2018 Outlook: A really rough year for the Aussie as he didn't post a single top-5 finish. As you can see from his 2017 ranks above, he was nowhere near his 4-year rank. Is Scott ready to settle down and become a family man ala Hunter Mahan and/or Graeme McDowell? Or was 2017 a small blip on the radar? There is only one way to find out, but I try to avoid these golfers after a down season. Unlike the stock market, it's not always a good idea to buy low on golfers.

 

27. Henrik Stenson 
Age: 41 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 61 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 10 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Looking at his total strokes gained in 2017, he ranked outside the top 60. It's hard to rack up those strokes when you only play in 15 events (10-for-15 with three top 10s). The Swede is not getting any younger and seemingly tries to get by with posting the minimum amount of tournaments on the PGA TOUR. Not someone I would go out of my way to target in year-long drafts.

 

26. Brendan Steele 
Age: 34 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 28 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 34 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 36 
2018 Outlook: Unlike Oosthuizen, Steele is someone you can rely on when it comes to tournament volume. He's played seven seasons on TOUR, playing 24-to-27 events in all seven of them. Still searching for his first top 10 in a major championship. 

 
~
 
Top 25
 

25. Louis Oosthuizen 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 48 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 24 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 22 
2018 Outlook: The knock on Oosthy was always the mid-tournament WDs. He racked up eight of them over a five-season stretch. However, he's now gone two full seasons without a mid-tourney WD. Brings his best stuff in the majors but he's never posted more than 20 starts in a PGA TOUR season. Look elsewhere if you want to target volume. 

 

24. Phil Mickelson 
Age: 47 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 21 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 26 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 17 
2018 Outlook: He's not getting any younger but his career starts keep ticking while his career wins keep staying the same. The split between him and Bones was shocking but the duo had clearly become stale. Could the return of Tiger be the spark that kicks Lefty back into high gear? Probably not, but I'm sure we'll hear some of that narrative this season if he and Woods find themselves in contention during the same week. I wouldn't let the age fool you, Mickelson still hangs with the young guns and maintains a steady position in the upper tier of fantasy options, especially when you factor in his birdie-making abilities. 

 

23. Russell Henley 
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 24 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 39 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 54 
2018 Outlook: The Georgia Bulldog falls into a category I call a BOOKEND GOLFER. He's elite off-the-tee, elite with the putter, but very hit-or-miss in between. When he gets locked in with his irons he's tough to stop. That makes him a great high-risk, high-reward play for gamers. For that same reason, his strokes gained numbers will often lag behind his performance on the money list. His bad weeks are really bad, but his good weeks earn him plenty of pizza dough.

 

22. Francesco Molinari 
Age: 35 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 30 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 21 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 20 
2018 Outlook: Racked up 14 top 25s in 21 starts last season. One of the steadiest options on TOUR. Look for more of the same in 2018.

 

21. Sergio Garcia 
Age: 37 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 43 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 13 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 10 
2018 Outlook: Finally won a major in 2017 and he will become a father in early 2018. Could consider him a late bloomer in both regards but he's finally put all the pieces together. The only problem with Garcia is that he hasn't played more than 17 PGA TOUR events in a single season since 2008. 

 

20. Tommy Fleetwood 
Age: 26 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 85 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 17 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 32 
2018 Outlook: You don't win the European Tour's Race to Dubai without having a strong set of skills. Fleetwood is one of the top ball-strikers in the world, and now we should see him a bit more Stateside after he played his way into status as a nonmember last year. The big question mark lies with his schedule. Will he maintain a predominantly Euro Tour schedule and just dabble in the PGA TOUR events, reaching the bare minimum of 15? Or will he approach the 20-start mark on the PGA TOUR? If he reaches 20 starts then he will likely be a steal at #20 but otherwise, he falls in the Sergio Garcia category of needing to capitalize when he does peg it Stateside. 

 

19. Kevin Kisner 
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 14 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 25 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 43 
2018 Outlook: A late bloomer, this 33-year-old is finally comfortable on TOUR and it shows with wins in each of the past two seasons. He also had a successful debut in team competition. He is a great addition to any fantasy team because he thrives on the less-than-driver courses when a lot of the other top-tier talent is either at home resting or struggling to keep the ball in play. 

 

18. Webb Simpson 
Age: 32 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 12 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 28 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 33 
2018 Outlook: Finished 88th in strokes gained putting last year. That may not sound like much but he was gaining positive strokes (+0.066 SGP per round). That was a massive improvement over the previous two seasons (following the anchoring ban) where he finished 174th and 177th in putting. Provides a lot of value in the non-major events since he typically keeps a busy workload and does most of the heavy lifting in the weaker-field events. 

 

17. Daniel Berger 
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 25 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 35 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 28 
2018 Outlook: All three of his strokes-gained metrics above sit at 25th or worse, but he's still just scratching of his full potential. After earning $3 million in his rookie year, he improved to nearly $3.3 million in his sophomore campaign, and improved again with $4.2 million last season. Definitely on the short list of candidates when it comes to golfers that could potentially pickup their first multi-win season. 


16. Patrick Reed
 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 17 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 37 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 24 
2018 Outlook: The 2016-17 campaign was his first full season on TOUR where he failed to pick up a win. I would expect him to climb back into the winner's circle before 2018 is over. Has 26 or more starts in each of the past five seasons. 

 

15. Matt Kuchar 
Age: 39 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 14 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 13 
2018 Outlook: Quickly approaching 40, I wouldn't say that age throws him out of the equation as a top-tier fantasy option. It does lower his appeal, though. At this point in his career, we know what he is, a consistent performer with elite talent for finding the backdoor top 10s. Add in the heavy annual workload and he becomes a great tool for any fantasy toolbox. Just don't break the bank to get him. 

 

14. Paul Casey 
Age: 40 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 11 
2018 Outlook: Still a machine, physically, despite his age. Also rejoined the European Tour in hopes of cracking the 2018 Ryder Cup squad. That might signal a return to the years when he only posted 15-to-17 PGA TOUR starts per season, rather than the 22-to-24 he's been posting over the last three seasons. 

 

13. Tony Finau 
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 16 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 31 
2018 Outlook: Gained more strokes over the field in 2017 than any other golfer on TOUR (not named Spieth). Of course, he did manage to rack up nearly 30 starts which is much more than most of the elite tier. Still, I wouldn't expect Big Tony to slow down anytime soon. He finished 11th in birdie average last season (3.99 per round) and finished 7th in that same category back in 2015. Elite scoring for any fantasy format that gives a boost to birdie-or-better studs. 

 

12. Jason Day 
Age: 30 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 22 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 18 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: It would be easy to dismiss 2017 altogether for the Aussie and declare him ready to rock in 2018, given the personal issues he dealt with off the course. On paper, it's easy to do that, but having looked for rebound candidates over the last three years, I've come to realize that sudden downturns in performance are really hard to slingshot back from, regardless of the situation off the course. If you invest in Day in a season-long format you are getting a World No. 1 talent, but like we see from his 2017 metrics above, he was not a top-15 golfer in the world last year. In my opinion, it would be a reach to draft him inside the top 10 this year, while he presents great value if he manages to slip outside the top 20 on the draft boards. 

 

11. Patrick Cantlay 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 35 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 14 
2018 Outlook: Much like Rosey, the only concern here is his back troubles. It knocked him out of competition for years and he finally made a return last year. It went as well as you could have hoped (13-for-13 with four top 10s). Then he went ahead and picked up his first career win in the fall. Barring any setbacks, I would imagine he opens the schedule a bit and approaches 20 starts in 2018.

 

10. Justin Rose 
Age: 37 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 18 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Like a fine wine, he's aging well. The only concern is the occasional flare up with his back. That's perfectly fine if it's isolated to one or two events per season like it generally has been recently. However, he is approaching 40 so the chances of a long-term injury continue to grow. 

 

9. Marc Leishman 
Age: 34 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 12 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 18 
2018 Outlook: The peak age for golfers is often in their early 30s and that definitely rung true for this Aussie in 2017. He won two times last season to earn nearly $5.9 Million, more than $3 MM greater than his second-best season. You might suggest it's just a blip on the radar and he'll regress back to his normal ways. However, long-time fans have been waiting for this breakout for years. I would guess we see him land somewhere between the $2 and $4 million in earnings this season. He also brings quantity to his high quality of play, making at least 23 starts in all nine of his seasons on the PGA TOUR.

 

8. Brooks Koepka 
Age: 27 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 19 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 15 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 15 
2018 Outlook: The 27-year-old grades out strongly in the strokes gained department but his real value comes in birdie making. He's averaged more than four birdies per round in each of the last two seasons, ranking 6th on TOUR in 2016 and 5th last season. Picked up a wrist injury just before the Hero World Challenge, but it wasn't noteworthy enough for him to back out of the event. Has two wins in 88 career PGA TOUR starts. Might be ready to make the leap and double that total before 2018 is over.

 

7. Hideki Matsuyama 
Age: 25 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 16 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank: 11 
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Now a five-time TOUR winner, the last piece of his puzzle is to pick up that coveted major championship trophy. He has a bit more pressure than most golfers since he has the weight of an entire nation on his back. His elite short game makes Augusta National a very likely spot to pick up his first. All it will take is one hot week with the putter, but that is always the case for this elite ball striker. 

 

6. Justin Thomas  
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank: 16 
2018 Outlook: He's been a winner at every stage in his golfing career and that finally caught up with him last year, winning FIVE times. I'm not suggesting he falls off a cliff in 2018, but a win-rate regression is very likely. The rest of his numbers suggest he hasn't found the same consistency as most of the other golfers in this elite tier. Perhaps that is what 2018 will be all about, but I would temper my win expectations to the 1-to-3 win range. 

 

5. Rory McIlroy  
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 58 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Injuries derailed his 2017 campaign and he could never get back in sync. He's scheduled a heavy workload in early 2018 so it looks like full steam ahead. He could very easily end up as the #1 fantasy golfer by year's end but you will likely get him at a discount in your drafts. 

 

4. Dustin Johnson  
Age: 33 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Has a win in 10 straight seasons. That includes the two best seasons of his career in the last two campaigns. Unlike some of the 20-somethings in the top 10 here, we've likely seen the best DJ has to offer. There is nothing wrong with that, because even his mediocre seasons are elite. 

 

3. Jon Rahm  
Age: 23 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank: 10 
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Rattled off top 10s in 11-of-23 starts during his first season as a PGA TOUR card-carrying member. Will now have the benefit of setting his own schedule to allow him more opportunities on courses that fit his eye. You could really swap order of any of the top 7 on this list, but Rahm's consistency at such a young age is really intriguing. 

 

2. Rickie Fowler  
Age: 28 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Remarkable consistency in 2017, despite landing just one victory (plus the Hero World Challenge title). Often gets the title of underachiever or overrated but that's not fair. It's not his fault he puts himself in position to win so often. It really is tough to win consistently on TOUR. Just look at Jason Day who won just one tournament in his first 138 tries on the PGA TOUR. Then he rattled off NINE WINS in his next 45 starts. Nothing really changed in his game, he just got locked in and also caught a few breaks. Fowler currently has 4 wins in 197 starts. Could he be next in line for a monster 3+ win season? It wouldn't be shocking. 

 

1. Jordan Spieth  
Age: 24 
2017 Total Strokes Gained Rank:
2017 Strokes Gained per Round Rank:
Four-Year Weighted SG Rank:
2018 Outlook: Has at least one worldwide win (14 total) every year since turning pro in 2013. Doesn't rely on distance so he can contend on any course. He always plans a heavier workload than most of the Euro talents that spend some of their time overseas. That makes him very valuable in terms of QUALITY & QUANTITY. 

 
 
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2018 Breakout Candidates
 
The following 20 golfers are trending up and/or have earned full status to give them more opportunities than in the past. To limit this list, I focused on golfers that have never eclipsed the $2 million mark in a single PGA TOUR season but very easily could in 2018. They are listed in no particular order. 
 
Thomas Pieters
Tommy Fleetwood
Austin Cook
Peter Uihlein
Bud Cauley
Ollie Schniederjans
Jamie Lovemark
Bryson DeChambeau
Byeong Hun An
Sung Kang
Nick Taylor
Whee Kim
Aaron Wise
J.J. Spaun
Sam Saunders
Kevin Tway
Beau Hossler
Anirban Lahiri
Andrew Landry
Seamus Power
 

Finding Their First

 
There has been an average of 12 first-time winners over the last five seasons. There were four in the fall (Armour, Kizzire, Cantlay, and Cook). That means we should expect to see 5-to-10 more golfers earn their maiden victory before the 2017-18 season is over. There will be a bit of overlap with the list above but here are is my top 25 list of golfers most likely to secure their first PGA TOUR win in 2018. They are listed in no particular order. 
 
Tommy Fleetwood
Graham DeLaet
Tyrrell Hatton
Thomas Pieters
Luke List
Bud Cauley
Peter Uihlein
Matthew Fitzpatrick
Jamie Lovemark
Byeong Hun An
Jason Kokrak 
Sung Kang
Ollie Schniederjans
J.J. Spaun
Whee Kim
Anirban Lahiri
Kevin Tway
Patrick Rodgers
Brandon Hagy
Bernd Wiesberger
Aaron Wise
Alex Noren
Francesco Molinari
Seamus Power
Beau Hossler
  
 
Think I massively mis-ranked a golfer?? Let us know in the comments section or reach out on Twitter and we can have a civilized discussion as to why they were omitted or ranked how they are.  

Happy Holiday from the Rotoworld Golf Team to you! Stay on the lookout for more articles over the break. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Josh Culp
Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.