Great event for longshots and locals
Current form far from essential
Originally staged at the Seaside Course alone, the RSM Classic, formerly known as the McGladrey Classic, became a two-course tournament eight years ago, leading to an increased field size.
Competitors will play both the Plantation Course and the Seaside Course in rotation over the first two days, with the Seaside Course being used for both the third and fourth rounds after the cut.
The RSM Classic is the last of seven FedEx Cup Fall Series events so it's the final opportunity for those flirting around the crucial 125 mark in the standings to secure their playing privileges for 2024.
Sea Island Resort (Seaside), Sea Island, Georgia.
Par 72, 7,060
Stroke index in 2022 - 69.76
Originally designed by Walter Travis in 1926, the Plantation Course was renovated in 1998 by Rees Jones, who described the course as "parkland by the sea", and it was revamped again in 2019 by Love Golf Design.
Following the revamp four years ago, the course is now 153 yards longer, quite a bit tougher, and the par five eighth hole was the only one unchanged from 2018.
Par 70, 7,005 yards
Stroke index in 2022 - 68.99
Originally made up of two separate nine-hole courses - a 1929 Colt and Alison classic and a Joe Lee 1973 creation called the Marchside Nine, the Seaside Course was created in 1999 when Tom Fazio combined the two. Positioned right on the southern tip of St. Simons Island this sea-side links style Bermuda grass course is susceptible to very windy conditions and quite different to the parkland style Plantation Course.
If the wind doesn't blow it's a very easy track and Sebastian Munoz opened up the 2021 renewal with a ten-under-par 60.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 17:00 UK time on Thursday.
Last Eight Winners with Pre-event Prices
- 2022 - Adam Svensson -19 160.0159/1
- 2021 - Talor Gooch -22 55.054/1
- 2020 - Robert Streb -19 (playoff) 1000.0999/1
- 2019 - Tyler Duncan (playoff) -19 450.0449/1
- 2018 - Charles Howell III (playoff) -19 70.069/1
- 2017 - Austin Cook -21 160.0159/1
- 2016 - Mackenzie Hughes (playoff) 600.0599/1
- 2015 - Kevin Kisner -22 20.019/1
What Will it Take to Win the RSM Classic?
The 2018 winner, Charles Howell, ranked 12th for Driving Distance and Talor Gooch ranked 20th two years ago but length off the tee is irrelevant. The 2020 playoff protagonists, Robert Streb and Kevin Kisner, who had both won the title previously, ranked 51st and 52nd for DD, and last year's winner, Adam Svensson, ranked 52nd.
Kisner ranked only 53rd for DD when he won in 2015, the 2016 winner, Mackenzie Hughes, was even shorter, ranking only 57th, and the 2017 winner, Austin Cook, was quite close to the tournament average when he ranked 39th. The average DD ranking of the 13 winners to date is 37.08.
Accuracy is ordinarily more important than power from the tee here and Svenson ranked fifth for Driving Accuracy 12 months ago but the first two home in 2021 ranked tied 52nd for Driving Accuracy and the 2020 winner, Robert Streb, only ranked 36th so it's really not worth getting hung up on the driving metrics. The average Driving Accuracy ranking of the 13 winners to date is 23.31.
And here are the average rankings for all the other key stats for the 13 tournament winners to date.
Greens In Regulation 16.08
Putting Average 9.92
Putts per Round 12.38
Strokes Gained Putting 8.18 *
*SGP - last 11 events only
The 2018 winner, Howell, skews the figures somewhat as his stats were far from typical. He gave it a good biff off the tee, found plenty of fairways and ranked number one for Greens In Regulation but his putting was very poor compared with most winners.
Howell pushed the putting averages up considerably given he ranked 70th for Putting Average, 54th for Putts per Round and only 24th for SGP. With rankings for those same stats of ninth, 16th and sixth, Gooch produced much more typical flatstick stats two years ago and Svensson ranked only 12th for PA and 20th for PPR but first for SG: Putting 12 months ago.
The 2015 and 2016 winners, Kisner and Hughes, both ranked number one for PA and both made more birdies than anyone else so it's very often a bit of a putting competition for those that can handle the Bermuda greens.
Is There an Angle In?
Although two of the last six winners have been Canadian, and the 2021 winner, Gooch, was born in Oklahoma, where he still resides, and Streb, who lives in neighbouring Kansas, was also born in Oklahoma, the locals tend do well here.
Charles Howell is from Augusta, Georgia, Kisner went to University in Georgia, and he lives in the neighbouring state of South Carolina.
The 2013 winner, Chris Kirk, who said he'd played the Seaside Course at least one hundred times previously when he won, and the inaugural winner, Heath Slocum, both live in Georgia and a number of players that have gone close in the event have a connection with the area.
The problem with looking for the local angles is that you'll find plenty of them. Tournament host Davis Love III has been instrumental in getting this event up and running and he's also been the driving force behind making Sea Island a place that golf professionals want to live and work.
If you're looking for courses that correlate well with the Seaside Course, you're spoilt for choice but last week's Bermuda Championship, which is played at the par 71 Royal Port GC, is a decent place to start.
This year's winner, Camilo Villegas, was beaten in a playoff here in 2016, last year's Bermuda winner, Seamus Power, finished fourth here last year, the 2019 winner in Bermuda, Brendon Todd, led here through three rounds, two weeks after winning there, and the 2020 Bermuda winner, Brian Gay, has finished fourth and third here previously.
There are also three par 70 Bermuda tracks that are well worth checking out...
Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open in Hawaii, Colonial Country Club, venue of the Charles Schwab Challenge (Kisner won the Charles Schwab Challenge in 2017 after winning here in 2015 and Kirk doubled up in 2013 and 2015 too), and TPC Southwind, which hosts the FedEx St. Jude but the two I like best are the par 71 Harbour Town Links in neighbouring South Carolina, which has hosted the RBC Heritage since its inception in 1969, and PGA National - home of the Honda Classic since 2007.
The first three winners of this tournament all had a top-six finish in the RBC Heritage, the 2013 winner, Kirk, won this year's Honda Classic, and an ever-increasing number of players have performed well in both this event and the Honda Classic.
One of the four men to be beaten in the playoff here six years ago, Camilo Villegas, romped to a five-stroke victory at the Honda in 2010 and the surprise 2016 winner here, Mackenzie Hughes, who also finished second two years ago, was a huge outsider when finishing second to Sungjae Im in the Honda in 2020.
Winners here haven't always been in hot current form. In fact, it's the opposite. Kisner had finished runner-up in the WGC HSBC Champions in his penultimate start in 2015 and Robert Streb had finished 10th in the Shriners Children's Open when he won the title on the first occasion but as you'll see with the list below, most had poor form coming into the event and four of the winners had missed the cut in their penultimate start.
- 2022 - Adam Svensson 59-MC-39
- 2021 - Talor Gooch 5-11-60
- 2020 - Robert Streb 21-MC-55
- 2019 - Tyler Duncan - MC-18-47
- 2018- Charles Howell III - 5-61-MC
- 2017 - Austin Cook - 25-20-50
- 2016 - Mackenzie Hughes - 26-68-MC
- 2015 - Kevin Kisner - 25-37-2
- 2014 - Robert Streb - 9-31-10
- 2013 - Chris Kirk - 24-36-25
- 2012 - Tommy Gainey - 38-66-MC
- 2011 - Ben Crane - 51-10-MC
- 2010 - Heath Slocum - 65-50-45
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Experienced pros bossed the tournament to begin with, but that's all changed recently.
Svenson was only 28 when he won last year, Gooch had just turned 30 when he won two years ago, the 2019 winner, Tyler Duncan, was also only 30 and all three were winning on the PGA Tour for the first time.
And had Patrick Rodgers won the playoff five years ago instead of Howell, who was 39, eight of the last nine winners, and nine of the last 11, would have been winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.
Gooch had been on the PGA Tour since 2017 and Svensson first appeared there in 2018, but inexperienced PGA Tour players have thrived of late. Duncan was playing in only his second season on the PGA Tour and the 2016 and '17 winners were PGA Tour rookies. In fact, they had remarkably similar profiles. Austin Cook was playing in only his 14th PGA Tour event with a World Ranking of 302 and Hughes was playing in his ninth with a ranking of 287.
Again, had Rodgers beaten Howell, six of the last ten winners would have been in their 20s and the other three weren't exactly ancient. Gooch and Duncan had just turned 30 before they won and Kisner was only 31 when he won eight years ago but with distance irrelevant this is a tournament that gives the older guys a chance and outsiders have a fantastic record.
Having finished fourth here in 2014 and runner-up in his previous start, Kisner went off at around the 20/1 mark seven years ago but he's by far the shortest winner of the tournament to date.
The majority of winners go off at a triple figure price and four of the five playoff protagonists in 2016 were matched at huge prices. The winner, Hughes, was matched at 600.0599/1 before the off (and again in the playoff! - see below) Villegas was matched at 280.0279/1 before the off, Henrik Norlander was a 450.0449/1 shot and Blayne Barber was backed at 500.0499/1.
Svensson was nicely backed from 200.0199/1 t0 160.0159/1 last year, the 2019 winner, Duncan, was a 450.0449/1 chance and Streb went off at 1000.0999/1 three years ago so this is definitely a tournament in which you can throw a few darts.
Will another Bubble Boy take the title?
Victory in Bermuda on Sunday saw Villegas climb from 147th place in the FedEx Cup standings to 75th and the third and fourth, Matti Schmid and Carl Yuan, climbed into the crucial top-125.
Schmid jumped from 148th to 120th and he's probably done enough to secure his PGA Tour card for next season but at number 125 (climbed from 134th), Yuan still has work to this week. The top-125 in the standings after this event will earn a place on the Tour next year.
Erik Van Rooyen sat 125th in the standings before he won the World Wide Technology Championship two weeks ago so concentrating on players in search of a good week to save or gain their playing privileges may pay dividends.
Winner's Position and Price Pre-Round Four
- 2022 - Adam Svensson - T3 - trailing by one 14.5
- 2021 - Talor Gooch - led by three 1.875/6
- 2020 - Robert Streb - led by three 2.447/5
- 2019 - Tyler Duncan T5 - trailing by four 48.047/1
- 2018 - Charles Howell III - led by one stroke 3.65
- 2017 - Austin Cook - led by three 1.84/5
- 2016 - MacKenzie Hughes - led by one stroke 6.25/1
- 2015 - Kevin Kisner - led by three 1.674/6
Svensson trailed by just a stroke after 54 holes last year and the six winners before him were all in front at the halfway stage but that doesn't tell half the story and this is definitely an event in which you can take on odds-on shots in-running and in which you can chance players from off the pace.
Svensson looked long odds-on to miss the cut after a slow start around the Plantation Course on Friday and he was matched at 1000.0999/1 when over par for the tournament after turning for home in one-under-par on Friday, but he got his skates on - on the back-nine, coming home in 30 to climb to tied 43rd at halfway.
He then shot a sensational eight-under-par 62 on Saturday - the best round of the day by two strokes - to move up into a tie for third, before shooting the equal-best round on Sunday (64) to win by two.
Although Svensson was the only player to go odds-on last year, there's often plenty of drama here and we usually see at least one player go odds-on and get beat.
As many as three men (Cameron Champ, Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers) went odds-on in 2018 before getting beat and four of the last seven renewals have gone to extra time.
Kisner is the shortest priced winner of the event and he was by far the easiest winner too - romping to a six-stroke victory in 2015, after skipping to the front during round three - but that was by some distance the dullest finish we've had so far...
If you enjoy backing an outsider on a Sunday evening that might just put in a charge form off the pace, then this is most definitely the event for you. I backed Cameron Tringale with a round to go in 2020 at 160.0159/1 and he was matched at a low of 4.94/1 after being matched at 1000.0999/1 when he parred the first four holes on Sunday.
We've only had 13 renewals but already we've seen winners come from four strokes back, five off the pace (twice), and from seven strokes back with a round to go.
Heath Slocum won the inaugural event after leading through three rounds but Ben Crane came from five shots back to win in 2012 and a year later, Tommy Gainey hit 60 in round four to win by a stroke, having trailed by seven after 54 holes!
Robert Streb began the fourth round trailing by five strokes in 2014 and trading at 110.0109/1 before he went on to win for the first time and 12 months earlier, Tim Clark very nearly did the same thing. He also began round four trading at a triple figure price and five off the lead and he was matched at just 4.03/1 after he'd shot a final round of 62 (one better than Streb and Crane). He would have made a playoff if Chris Kirk hadn't birdied the penultimate hole and we very nearly witnessed another miraculous winner five years ago too...
Patrick Rodgers was absolutely miles back before getting into the playoff. The pre-event 160.0159/1 chance was matched at 1000.0999/1 when he trailed by 12 at halfway and he was still five back with a round to go after shooting 61 in round three. A 62 on Sunday saw him get into the playoff.
With six of the first 13 renewals going to extra time, a tight and dramatic finish can be expected but I'll be amazed if we get anything quite as bizarre as the finish to the 2016 tournament which went to a five-man playoff.
As darkness fell, Billy Horschel eliminated himself on Sunday evening with an unbelievably bad putt on the 18th green before the Monday finish saw a simply crazy conclusion. Incredibly, Hughes won the event at the third extra hole, despite never finding the par three 17th green! All four remaining playoff protagonists missed the green completely and Hughes was somehow matched at 600.0599/1 when his second shot still failed to make the putting surface, but his three rivals all failed to get-up-and-down for par after the Canadian holed out for a three from just off the green.
The market is struggling to split the Swedish sensation, Ludvig Eberg, and the four-time PGA Tour winner, Russell Henley, but my preference would be with the latter.
We haven't seen Henley since the Tour Championship, but he was in top form up until then and he has victories at all the right correlating courses, as well as a decent bank of course form that includes three top-10 finishes.
This time last year he romped to a four-stroke victory in the last edition of the World Wide Technology at Mayakoba and playing in his home state, Henley is the man to beat.
Aberg missed the cut here on his only previous appearance two years go, which can't be seen as a positive, and he was a little disappointing in Mexico two weeks ago when he finished only 10th after a 72 on Saturday left him with far too much to do.
It's surely only a matter of time before he gets off the mark on the PGA Tour but he's short enough for my liking.
Cameron Young is also in search of his first victory and the longer it's taking the harder it appears to be getting.
He shot 65 in round one in Mexico two weeks ago to go into day two trading at around 5/16.00 but followed that with rounds of 74 and 72 to play himself out of the contest, and he looks like one to swerve for now.
The Open Champion, Brian Harman, finished fourth here in 2017 and he finished runner-up 12 months ago, so he commands plenty of respect but in an event in which outsiders often come to the fore, I'm happy to leave him out of the portfolio too.
Given what a great event this has been for longshots, I'll have at least four picks for the Find Me a 100 Winner column later today, but I've still managed to pick out two at less than 100/1101.00.
Denny McCarthy has far too much talent not to win on the PGA Tour but he's getting frustrating to follow.
He didn't do too much wrong when getting caught late on by Viktor Hovland at the Memorial Tournament in June, where he was matched at a low of just 1.182/11. But he was disappointing in-contention when a 110.0109/1 pick for the Find Me a 100 Winner column at the Travelers Championship, where he finished seventh, having been matched at a low of 2.942/1 when he led the event on Friday.
And he sat second with round to go at the John Deere Classic two weeks later but finished sixth after a 70 in round four, so he's been in-the-mix three times this summer without winning.
He went off the boil a bit after that, understandably, but finished 10th in the BMW Championship when last sighted at the end of August.
Well-rested, playing a track that suits (two top-10s in six starts), and with just the right profile (aged 30 and looking for his first win), I was happy to chance him modestly at 48.047/1 with the full understanding that nerves could get the better of him.
As highlighted above, strong current form is far from an essential pre-requisite here but having backed him at a juicy 160.0159/1 in Bermuda, I make no apologies for leaving a few chips on the table on last week's winner, Camilo Villegas.
He's looking to win back-to-back, having finished runner-up in Mexico the week before his win in Bermuda.
Brendon Todd led here after three rounds when in search of his third win in-a-row, having won the Bermuda Championship and the World Wide Championship in Mexico back in 2019. Villegas won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship back-to-back in 2008.
He's won and finished runner-up at the Honda Classic and he was second here in 2016 so I'm not surprised to see him in the line-up given how well the venue suits him. A price of 80.079/1 was just too big for the hottest player in the field.
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