Fantasy golf has two big weeks rapidly approaching

Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open on June 16, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.
Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open on June 16, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. AP

Fantasy football kicks off in a few weeks, but those who dream about picking winners and earning millions or achieving success in a fantasy world don’t have to wait until Drew Brees throws his first pass or Antonio Brown snatches a TD in the corner of the end zone. Fantasy Golf has two more big weeks, The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and the PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

Golfweek has ranked the Top 50 fantasy golfers for the Open, but can someone win a dream vacation by choosing golfers on the list? Possibly, but the fun starts when it’s time to throw out Rickie Fowler and insert Padraig Harrington, scratch Dustin Johnson and inject an unknown into the lineup, or scrap Jordan Spieth for Lee Westwood. Gambles pay off.

Xander Schauffele finished T5 in this year’s US Open at Erin Hills while Trey Mullinax finished T9. Not household names at the time. Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy missed the cut. Shocking! Not really. It’s called golf. That’s what makes fantasy golf so much fun.

The Golf Channel offers a chance to pick the Champion Golfer of the Year with its golf fantasy contest, and allows fans to pick players each week with fantasy golf, one-and-done PGA Tour and one-and-done PGA Tour Champions. The site offers expert picks each week in case enthusiasts don’t want to spend time on research.

No surprises in the 2017 Masters. Kevin Chappell might have surprised some with his T7 finish, but let’s face it, he was a recent winner. However, the Opens present more of a challenge for fantasy players. Who are Tyrell Hatton and Andrew Johnston? English golfers who finished T5 and 8th respectively in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon?

And then the score can turn a fantasy card upside down. To win the prize last year in Scotland, Stenson -20 and Mickelson -17 had to land on the card since the next golfer, JB Holmes, was at -6. For those who pick teams, the cut can dramatically decrease chances of winning or even disqualify any possibility.

Fantasy golf is not for sissies! Golfweek lists Hideki Matsuyama as No. 1 at Birkdale and Andy Sullivan as No 50. Forty-eight golfers tee off between them, and 100+ more professionals have a tee time next week.

Good luck!

Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a regular column for the Sun Herald.