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Phil Mickelson
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Culp's Corner

Top 150 Golfers for 2021: Part 2

by Josh Culp
Updated On: December 20, 2020, 9:49 pm ET

Keeping this projection series going, I will move into the second chunk of golfers. Go check out Part One if you missed it. I looked at golfers that grade out 126th to 150th for the upcoming season. 

As a reminder, here are the underlying stats that are being used: 

6-Month Performance = Strokes Gained per Round during all worldwide events over the last six months. This is a good guide to see what golfers were trending well to end the year, after the mid-season restart. 

2-Year Performance = Strokes Gained per Round during all worldwide events since 2019. This is how you can see a golfer's long-term baseline. A good chunk of golfers will gravitate back toward this number while a handful will make big moves in either direction that actually stick. 

Projected 2021 Earnings = An estimate of PGA TOUR earnings during the 2020-21 season, excluding any money collected during the fall schedule. 

125. Xinjun Zhang

6-Month SG Rank: 121
2-Year SG Rank: 103
Projected 2021 Earnings: $576000

Notes: Zhang has finished 167th and 78th in two seasons played on the PGA TOUR. The average of those two seasons (122.5) also happens to sit right around his 2-year adjust strokes gained performance (121st). We should expect something similar in 2021 but with a high volume of events played he should easily crack the Playoffs when all is said and done, barring a big slump. 

124. Brice Garnett

6-Month SG Rank: 117
2-Year SG Rank: 120
Projected 2021 Earnings: $595736

Notes: Garnett has cracked the FedExCup Playoffs in three straight seasons. He's accumulated 17 top finishes inside of the top 25 over that stretch. He gets the job done with volume (30 starts, 28 starts, 19 starts the last three seasons). Four of his best 10 finishes on TOUR have come at Mayakoba so you won't be getting that likely payday since that event took place in the fall. 

123. Chris Kirk

6-Month SG Rank: 112
2-Year SG Rank: 137
Projected 2021 Earnings: $595736

Notes: He posted just one top 25 in 11 starts last season but rust was to be expected after he returned from a layoff. Kirk ended the 2019-20 campaign with cuts made in four of his last five and also went 4-for-5 this fall. Kirk is trending upward and he's a four-time PGA TOUR winner. 

122. Anirban Lahiri

6-Month SG Rank: 54
2-Year SG Rank: 149
Projected 2021 Earnings: $606076

Notes: He slipped off the radar for a year or two but got some things figured out over the COVID quarantine period. Since his return, Lahiri has landed top 40s in four of five starts (four straight after a missed cut in his first start back at the Wyndham). Two of those finishes doubled as top 15s. It's too early to officially say he's back to his old form but the fall breadcrumbs are promising. 

121. Michael Thompson

6-Month SG Rank: 117
2-Year SG Rank: 112
Projected 2021 Earnings: $609165

Notes: He came out of nowhere to win the 3M Open this summer. He gained 7.4 strokes on approach that week in addition to 7.3 strokes gained putting. Thompson let his foot off the gas with seven straight finishes outside of the top 45 before snapping back with a top 15 at Houston, just before the break. The 35-year-old has two straight seasons of solid output but before that, he missed the Playoffs in four straight seasons. 

120. Branden Grace

6-Month SG Rank: 147
2-Year SG Rank: 124
Projected 2021 Earnings: $616327

Notes: It wasn't too long ago that he was getting pegged as "next to win a major" but his form has slipped over the last year. He's fallen to 125th in the OWGR. We know the upside is there so it's worth taking a shot in the middle of drafts. He ended the year with a T8 on the European Tour's finale so perhaps he can use that as a confidence booster when the calendar flips. 

119. Patrick Rodgers

6-Month SG Rank: 133
2-Year SG Rank: 131
Projected 2021 Earnings: $621983

Notes: The driver has always been his biggest weapon but we are no long surprised with his putter performance. Rodgers finished 22nd in SG Putting two years ago and 11th last season. His week-to-week performance shows it would be reaching to draft Rodgers this early. However, his lights-out putting upside leads to top-heavy finishes and he comes with a lot of pedigree. A great post-hype breakout candidate. 

118. Peter Malnati

6-Month SG Rank: 110
2-Year SG Rank: 122
Projected 2021 Earnings: $628355

Notes: He has three career top 5s and two of them came this fall. If you think he can maintain that confidence/momentum then pluck him anytime after 100th in a draft. Otherwise, he's likely to regress and post a lot of middling finishes. 

117. Jim Furyk

6-Month SG Rank: 94
2-Year SG Rank: 46
Projected 2021 Earnings: $630903

Notes: It's not an appetizing trendline when looking at his 6-month performance against his 2-year numbers. If you think the aging curve has caught up with Furyk then he's an easy fade. Otherwise, he's a reasonable bounce-back candidate even with his schedule being split between tours. 

116. Chesson Hadley

6-Month SG Rank: 102
2-Year SG Rank: 137
Projected 2021 Earnings: $637672

Notes: He's a statistical enigma. He doesn't do anything all that great but always finds a way to get hot and flirt with a win, once or twice a year. Hadley landed four top 25s in his last nine starts before the break. He's missed 78 cuts in 178 career stats which isn't a great ratio but he managed to ink a season with seven top 25s just three years ago. His good weeks are really good. 

115. Hank Lebioda

6-Month SG Rank: 96
2-Year SG Rank: 144
Projected 2021 Earnings: $637672

Notes: Over the last year he's gained strokes tee-to-green in 66% of his measured rounds. That is the same ratio as Webb Simpson and Sungjae Im, for a comparison. However, Lebioda has also lost strokes putting in 60 percent of his rounds. He'll need to take his tee-to-green game even higher or find something with the putter. Either way, there is some upside here. 

114. Rory Sabbatini

6-Month SG Rank: 90
2-Year SG Rank: 56
Projected 2021 Earnings: $640525

Notes: It's been a remarkable career for Sabbs who has cracked the Top 125 in 13-of-14 seasons since the FedExCup was started. The 44-year-old isn't getting younger so a bit of regression should not be surprising. That's why we are going to let him slide past 100th on the draft board but if he does land on our team from that point then we are getting a pretty good bargain. 

113. Luke List

6-Month SG Rank: 131
2-Year SG Rank: 132
Projected 2021 Earnings: $647535

Notes: He remains lights out from tee-to-green but lost strokes putting in 70 percent of his measured rounds last year. That's hard to stomach but if he makes any improvement in that area then top-heavy finishes should start rolling in. 

 112. Brian Stuard

6-Month SG Rank: 113
2-Year SG Rank: 98
Projected 2021 Earnings: $651832

Notes: The 38-year-old from Michigan quietly keeps racking up steady seasons. He's finished 92nd or better in the FedExCup race in six of the last eight years. A big part of that is his volume of play (25+ starts in eight of his nine seasons played). There is no reason to expect that scheduling to change, though. 

111. Pat Perez

6-Month SG Rank: 106
2-Year SG Rank: 102
Projected 2021 Earnings: $654342

Notes: The 44-year-old played through some injuries last year but still managed to land four top 25s in 18 starts. He's now posted four or more top 25s in every season where he's made at least 18 starts (that is all but one (2016). He's reaching that part of the aging curve where the injuries can become tougher to play through but if he's healthy, he'll easily pay off his market value. 

110. Jhonattan Vegas

6-Month SG Rank: 108
2-Year SG Rank: 95
Projected 2021 Earnings: $659822

Notes: He gained strokes off-the-tee in 82.5% of his measured rounds last year. The only golfers with a higher ratio were Bryson, Sergio, and Rahm. The rest of his game is inconsistent, to say the least, but a top-tier driving game will generate a lot of cuts made. 

109. C.T. Pan

6-Month SG Rank: 98
2-Year SG Rank: 119
Projected 2021 Earnings: $671181

Notes: He was a standout amateur and he's also won on the PGA TOUR. Pan has cracked the top 40 FedExCup in two of his last three seasons and 88th during his rookie campaign. It was a disappointing season in 2020 when he finished 178th in the FedExCup race. Overall, that paints him as a decent buy-low option. 

108. Marc Leishman

6-Month SG Rank: 149
2-Year SG Rank: 73
Projected 2021 Earnings: $671181

Notes: The Aussie was setting himself up for a career year before the COVID pandemic pressed pause on the season. After the return, Leishman never found any momentum. He finished T40 or worse in 12-of-14 events played and one of those top 40s was a solo 29th at the 30-man TOUR Championship. The most likely scenario is that he grinds over the break and bounces back in 2021 but there is also a very real chance that he never comes back to his old baseline. Proceed with caution but you should probably also feel excited to draft him if he falls too far. 

107. Will Gordon

6-Month SG Rank: 129
2-Year SG Rank: 132
Projected 2021 Earnings: $675811

Notes: The youngster doesn't have full status so you won't get any Playoff starts unless he wins an event. Gordon has gained strokes off-the-tee in 68% of his measured rounds in the last year and also gained on approach in 51% of his rounds. His short-game metrics are both on the other end of the specturm. Is that a matter of him needed to learn how to properly play PGA TOUR setups to give him easier looks on and around the green or is his short game just bad? We'll find out in 2021. A lot of upside from this young ball-striker. 

106. Scott Stallings

6-Month SG Rank: 98
2-Year SG Rank: 108
Projected 2021 Earnings: $678840

Notes: Stallings has a career cuts-made ratio of just over 50 percent but has managed to post surprisingly consistent finishes in the FedExCup standings. His worst FedExCup finish in 10 seasons is 129th (2015) and he's fallen between 93rd and 120th in each of the last four years. Stallings ended his year by contracted COVID-19 but he should be fully up to the task when play resumes in January. He made 26 or more starts in four straight seasons before last year's shortened campaign (20 starts). 

105. Phil Mickelson

6-Month SG Rank: 130
2-Year SG Rank: 107
Projected 2021 Earnings: $686886

Notes: Never count Lefty out. His magical elixir known as Coffee for Wellness is keeping him young and he's still hitting bombs. He posted just four top 40s worldwide last year across the PGA TOUR and European Tour. On the bright side, three of those were podium finishes. His good weeks are still really good. 

104. Brendan Steele

6-Month SG Rank: 92
2-Year SG Rank: 127
Projected 2021 Earnings: $691492

Notes: Steele went through some equipment fixes that healed his ball-striking numbers. He ranked 119th in strokes gained tee-to-green during the 2018-19 campaign but improved to 39th last year. He ended on a sour note with five straight finishes of T65 or worse. Before the letdown in 2019 he was a steady top-80 finisher in the FedExCup. 

103. Chez Reavie

6-Month SG Rank: 85
2-Year SG Rank: 62
Projected 2021 Earnings: $716725

Notes: He won't be able to compete on every course, piping it just 285 yards off the tee, but he can really go unconscious with his irons. Reavie has earned a paycheck in 100 of his last 140 starts (71%) which is a beautiful thing to see in most fantasy formats. 

102. Matthew NeSmith

6-Month SG Rank: 105
2-Year SG Rank: 76
Projected 2021 Earnings: $716725

Notes: If iron play if the stat you like to target then NeSmith is your man at the backend of drafts. He gained strokes on approach in 72 percent of his measured rounds over the last year. Golfers with a higher ratio over that time frame? Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, and Russell Henley. That's it. 

101. Stewart Cink

6-Month SG Rank: 92
2-Year SG Rank: 114
Projected 2021 Earnings: $716725

Notes: Everything clicked for Cink near the end of the year. Playing with his son as a caddie at the Safeway Open, he won with three rounds of 67 or better recorded on the week. He followed that up with a T12 at the Sanderson Farms. His son is now staying on his bag for at least six more months. He posted three top 15s over the last two months with his son on the bag so if that duo can continue to crush it then Cink will be a great bargain option. 

Check back soon for part three where we'll begin to dive into the Top 100. 

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