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RSM Classic: Don't give up on Zach

Zach Johnson is overdue a big week on his local track
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Dave Tindall looks for more profits in this week's PGA Tour event at Sea Island in Georgia...

"Given that he’s won on tracks where similar skills are required (Hilton Head, Waialae) and he likes playing by the coast, there’s no good reason for him to keep struggling at this course."

Main Bet: Back Zach Johnson @ 30/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Zach Johnson e.w. @ 30/1

I don't think there are any great secrets to playing the Seaside course at Sea Island Golf Club.

Looking at the past four winners since it became an early-season event on the wraparound schedule shows that two players just waltzed in and won on their first look.

2016 Mackenzie Hughes (won on debut)
2015 Kevin Kisner (4-20-MC-26)
2014 Robert Streb (won on debut)
2013 Chris Kirk (64-MC-15)

Hughes had posted a T13 and a T26 earlier that season while Streb had placed T10 in Las Vegas the week before.

Kisner, the winner two years ago, was coming in off a second place in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China while Kirk peaked in Sea Island after showing his hand with three top 25s in his previous four starts.

So I'll place current form over course form and also champion the need to putt well.

Both Hughes and Kisner were ranked 1st in Putting Average for the week when they won while Streb was second.

Look at the top five finishers in each of those four years and it's littered with players high up on the putting stats.

Let's add a final element. Kisner and Streb also had local ties with Georgia through location or college.

Imagine then if we could find a player in good form, with a hot putter and he also knew the area well.

We can and he's called Zach Johnson.

The two-time major winners has started twice in the Fall, posting T13 in the Safeway Open and then closing with a 64 to take T23 in the OHL Classic.

He ranked fifth for Putting Average at the Safeway and across the six events played so far he's ranked third for PA.

The 30/1 looks particularly good on those numbers but there's an obvious fly in the ointment. Despite him being one of the Sea Island Mafia - that growing bunch of PGA Tour players who now reside here - Johnson has swallowed missed cuts on his last three starts.

It's not that he's done anything appalling as his last five rounds have all been 70s. Also, he was T12 on debut in 2010 and T16 in 2013.

Given that he's won on tracks where similar skills are required (Hilton Head, Waialae) and he likes playing by the coast, there's no good reason for him to keep struggling at this course.

One year he'll get it right and, at 30/1, I'm willing to say it's this one.

Main Bet: Back J.T. Poston e.w. @ 80/1

I'll add in another local and take J.T. Poston at 80/1.

He's one of the newer recruits to Sea Island and said last year that he had leant on and taken advice from fellow local residents Harris English and Patton Kizzire.

Seeing Kizzire win last week will obviously have been a boost as Poston has beaten him before in practice. It certainly promotes the 'well, if he can, I can' idea.

As Poston said in a pgatour.com interview last year: "Being around a couple of those guys, I guess you see them on TV and they show all the highlights, and you think they're so much better than you are, but they hit bad golf shots once in a while too.

"You're not as far off as you think you are. It's a big confidence boost knowing I can hang with them."

Poston has really kicked on in recent times with two November starts showing T4 in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas and T14 in last week's OHL Classic in Mexico.

Poston, who finished 10th on the Web.com Money List in 2016 having started that campaign with no status, was in the top 16 for Putting Average in both those events so he certainly fits the type of player I'm looking for this week.

He did play this event 12 months ago and missed the cut but that was all experience under the belt and his comfort levels this time will be massively higher.

This is a decent chance to bank a significant cheque.

Staying on the locals theme, Scott Brown has plenty of appeal at 40s but that's too close to the 30s of Zach Johnson for me.

Brown has a fourth and two other top 20s at the course and in recent weeks was T5 at the CJ Cup in South Korea and T6 in the OHL Classic.

I might regret missing him out but you can't back them all.

As for the younger players, Ollie Schniederjans excelled when T6 on his course debut last year.

We've seen plenty of good play from him in recent weeks with T17 in the Safeway Open, T23 in the CIMB Classic and T19 in the CJ Cup.

His WD (pre-event) from the OHL Classic has gone unexplained but he's signed up here and we have to presume all is okay.

He's another Georgia resident, who went to college there so also has the local element.

Again, if Johnson at 30s is the reference point, the 28s looks a bit skinny.

Main Bet: Back Si-Woo Kim e.w. @ 40/1

Hello. My name is Si-Woo Kim.

I won the hugely prestigious Players Championship on Bermuda greens at Sawgrass earlier this year.

I was third in last week's OHL Classic on a track not too dissimilar to this, shooting 67-68-69-65 and topping the All-Around stats.

Do you want to back me at 40/1?

Yes, I bloody do (this had more dramatic effect when he was 50s but his price was cut shortly before the preview went up. Sigh).

You simply can't win at Sawgrass without being one heck of a player and the South Korean did it at the age of just 21.

Also T13 in the U.S. Open, Kim was hurt by injury after that and suffered a string of withdrawals due to a shoulder problem.

But last week's top three in Mexico shows all looks good again and let's not forget that the Players Championship was no one-off. He also landed the 2016 Wyndham Championship with 21-under.

There's even an added course form bonus. Kim played this event in 2015 and shot 66-72-67-68 to crack the top 20.

If he was a media-hyped American called Sean King he'd be nearer 25s. As he's a Korean called Si-Woo Kim we can get 40s. Get on!

Another player with Korean heritage, Danny Lee, has a hot putter at the moment so could do some damage at 66/1.

He took T7 at the CIMB in Malaysia and a Sunday 66 gave him a top 25 in the OHL Classic.

Jumping into the three-figure prices and Shawn Stefani has a T10 and a T20 in his last three starts and putted well at the Southern Farms. He's 125/1.

Brian Gay at 100s also has place possibilities. The veteran has a top four to his name on this track and has done well in the last three weeks with a pair of top 25s that threatened to be better.


Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £170
Returned: £675
P/L: +£505

(After the OHL Classic)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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