What do the following Thomas Pieters, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher and Alex Noren have in common? You guessed it: They are all committed to the European Tour. Therefore, they’ve found themselves exempt onto the PGA Tour from being in the top-125 in FedEx Cup points last season. This has earned them their membership for the 2018 season. You’ll notice that these players’ Official World Golf Rankings can be higher than their fantasy rankings via PGA.com’s fantasy page. This is because these players are hard to predict in terms of events played in North America.
Overall, these are some great players to own in fantasy draft leagues. Just know that you will be throwing them out there for a maximum of 15 events. These players are ranked high in the OWGR for their great play around the globe, but for fantasy purposes and leagues that count only PGA tournaments, you’ll want to tame the expectations a bit.
Below are the top five golfers who earned fully exempt status via the non-member top 125 in FedExCup points in 2016-17. The five include: Thomas Pieters, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher, and Alex Noren.
Here are the 2017 FedEx Cup stats for these five golfers.
1. Thomas Pieters – 12 Events, 727 Points, 336 WGC points
2. Tommy Fleetwood – 10 Events, 629 points, 358 WGC points
3. Tyrrell Hatton – 13 events, 448 points, 183 WGC points
4. Ross Fisher – 10 Events, 446 points, 380 WGC points
5. Alex Noren – 11 events, 415 points, 204 WGC points
Here are these five golfers ranked in order for 2018 fantasy purposes.
1. Thomas Pieters
Current OWGR: 35th
PGA.com Fantasy Ranking: 20th
Fall Series Stats: 3 of 3 cuts made, 72.617 scoring average
Pieters was outlined in our top-25 fantasy golfers for 2018. You can view his ranking here.
The 25-year-old from Belgium is currently committed to the European Tour, but he will commit himself to his usual PGA events: He’s qualified for the Masters, the Open Championship, the PGA Championship, and the WGC-Mexico in 2018. Not to mention another (hopefully) 12 events he will compete in.
Pieters’ play in 2017 on this side of the globe was very good: a 2nd place finish at the Genesis Open, 4th place finishes at both the Masters and WGC-Bridgestone, and a tie for 5th at the WGC-Mexico.
Pieters’ 727 FedEx Cup points earned him 1st among the non-members, but that would’ve equated to 52nd as a PGA member, which is very solid. Pieters will commit to the European Tour this year because he wants to make a good impression for the 2018 Ryder Cup team, and he will provide some great numbers with the limited number of PGA events he does appear in. He won’t give you the same volume as a fantasy superstar, but at least he will never be rusty. Pieters will pretty much play non-stop whether it be in North America or Europe.
2. Tommy Fleetwood
Current OWGR: 18th
PGA.com Fantasy Ranking: 34th
Fall Series Stats: 1 of 1 cuts made, a 3rd place finish at the Hero World Challenge, 70.958 scoring average
After playing the last season on a Special Temporary Membership status, Tommy Fleetwood is ready to be a full-time PGA TOUR member in 2018. In 2017, the 26-year-old Englishman emerged. He posted a 4th place finish at the U.S. Open, a 2nd place finish at the WGC-Mexico, and two wins on the European Tour at the Abu Dhabi HSBC and the HNA Open de France. He also won the Race to Dubai, the season-long race to crown the European Tour’s best golfer.
From 2014-16, he played in 12 events while making six cuts. However, in 2017, he made eight of 10 cuts with three top-10s and three top-25s. He also made just over $900,000 in earnings. In addition, Fleetwood was ranked 1st in greens in regulation on the European Tour in 2017.
Fleetwood will look to improve on his Major finishes in 2018, as he missed the cut at the Masters and posted a T27 and a T61 at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, respectively. This is where he falls behind Pieters in terms of ranking.
Fleetwood is not only ready and poised to pass Pieters on this list, but we could be seeing him take over the PGA Tour and make a household name for himself if he can finish higher in some majors and play upwards of 13 events.
3. Tyrrell Hatton
Current OWGR: 16th
PGA.com Fantasy Ranking: 79th
Fall Series Stats: 1 of 1 cuts made (T11 at the WGC-HSBC) 70.458 scoring average
Hatton’s nice stretch in 2017 on the PGA TOUR earns him his tour card for this season. His 448 non-member FedEx Cup points are equivalent to 99th on the points list. Hatton is a good player to get some exposure to in salary leagues this season and is a nice asset to target in the later rounds of drafts. He was actually 13th in Best YTD Streak without a 3-Putt, and 45th in driving distance on TOUR last season. Some nice numbers for a part-time player.
Hatton has been a very consistent player over the last few years. In 2015 and 2016, he played in seven events, making five cuts while posting four top-25s and two top-10s. Speaking to the potential of the 26-year-old, those two top-10s actually occurred at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship in 2016.
In 2017, he made eight of 13 cuts, with three top-10s and five top-25s. These best finishes came at the Honda Classic, WGC-Mexico and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Fantasy owners will hope that Hatton can play in more than 13 events in 2018. They will want more out of him after he fell off the map after his nice stretch that included five of eight missed cuts and missed the cut at all four majors.
Hatton’s three career European Tour wins have also come over the last two seasons, with back-to-back wins at the Alfred Dunhill Links and a win at the Italian Open.
4. Ross Fisher
Current OWGR: 33rd
PGA.com Fantasy Ranking: 38th
Fall Series Stats: 1 of 1 cuts made (T58 at WGC-HSBC), 72.958 scoring average
Now 37 years old, Fisher enjoyed a great season last year. Fisher has been in playing in events on TOUR in some capacity over the last 10 years, but between 2014 and last season, he played in just nine events. Fisher has five European Tour victories from 2007-2014, but no PGA TOUR wins.
Last season, however, Fisher enjoyed seven of 10 cuts, with a 3rd place finish, three top-10s, and four top-25s. It was easily his best season since 2013, when he made seven of 15 cuts with a highlight T10 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Fisher has been an up-and -own player his whole career. Speaking to his peaks and valleys, from late July 2017 on, Fisher missed cuts at the European Masters and the PGA Championship. That dropped him 10 spots in the OWGR at the time. He was also out of the top-30 in his six finishing events.
Fisher is going to have some more opportunity to perform on TOUR this season, as we can definitely expect another 10 events minimum. If he can commit to at least 13 events, it’s easier to get behind him a bit more.
5. Alex Noren
Current OWGR: 18th
PGA.com Fantasy Ranking: 33rd
Fall Series Stats: 1 of 1 cuts made, 71.458 scoring average
Noren was an incredible and consistent force last season. However, he didn’t perform on the biggest stages. He made every single cut around the world between the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he failed to make the cut at the Masters, U.S. Open, and Scottish Open. Some more good news on Noren, though, is the fact that he is a proven winner with 10 professional wins since 2009, an incredibly impressive stat.
Like the aforementioned golfers on this list, Noren is committed to two tours and topped only 11 events last season. Before that, he had played in just 22 events since 2010.
Last season, Noren had an amazing nine of 11 cuts to go along with three top-10s and four top-25s. He posted a 10th-place finish at the PLAYERS Championship and a T6 at the Open Championship. He’s without a PGA Tour win in his career, but this could be the year. With a made cut at every major this season, and not just half of them, Noren has a great chance to improve on his 2017 earnings mark of $649,654 and could find himself well over $1 million.