The McGladrey Classic: Home comforts to help Harman, says The Punter

Brian Harman – fancied by The Punter to go well this week
Brian Harman – fancied by The Punter to go well this week

The PGA Tour is off to Georgia this week for the McGladrey Classic where some strong trends are already emerging. Read Steve's detailed preview here...

“Brian Harman’s form tailed off a bit after he’d won the John Deere Classic in July but that’s totally understandable and being refreshed and playing on a course he knows well could well see him contend again.”

Tournament History

The McGladrey Classic is one of the PGA Tour's newest events. First staged in 2010 - this will be just the fifth edition.

Seaside Course, Sea Island, Georgia

Course Details
Par 70, 7,055 yards
Stroke index in 2013 - 70.25

Originally made up of two separate nine hole courses - a 1929 Colt and Alison classic and a Joe Lee 1973 creation called the Marchside Nine, the Seaside Course was created in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.

Useful Sites
Event Site

Course Map
Twitter Link
Tee Times
Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days - 19:00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 18:00 on Sunday

First Four Winners

2013 - Chris Kirk -14 (playoff)
2012 - Tommy Gainey -16
2011 - Ben Crane -15 (playoff)
2010 - Heath Slocum -14

What Will it Take to Win The McGladrey Classic?

This is a chance for those who don't hit it miles off the tee to shine. At just a shade over 7,000 yards the Seaside Course isn't long and although last year's winner, Chris Kirk, played the two par 5s in six-under-par for the week to rank first for par 5 scoring, the previous three winners all ranked first for par 4 scoring

A neat and tidy game is what's needed to succeed here, an ability to handle windy conditions usually helps too, and most importantly, you need to putt really well. And with the forecast relatively calm, I suspect that will definitely be the case this year. 

Kirk only ranked 11th for strokes gained putting last year but that's the worst any winner has ranked and with the forecast (at this early stage) suggesting conditions will be fairly easy, I can see this year's renewal developing in to a bit of a birdie-fest. I expect low scores (especially over the first two days) and the winner to rank very highly for putting.

Is There an Angle In?

Look to the locals to shine this week, knowing a course that's relatively new on the tour is a huge advantage.  Both last year's winner, Kirk, who said he'd played the course at least one hundred times previously, and inaugural winner, Heath Slocum, live in Georgia and a number of players that have gone close in the event have a connection with the area.

If you're looking for courses that correlate well then look at form at three other par 70 Bermuda tracks - Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open in Hawaii, Colonial Country Club, venue of the Crowne Plaza Invitational and TPC Southwind, which hosts the St. Jude Classic but the course I like best is the par 71 Harbour Town Links in neighbouring South Carolina, which has hosted the RBC Heritage since its inception in 1969.

Kirk has played four times at Harbour Town while the first three winners of this event all had a top-six finish in the RBC Heritage - if you want to analyse form at just one event, that's the one I'd suggest.

Check the Weather Forecast
We look set for a benign first two days and a mildly breezy weekend but it may well be worth checking again before the off. The weather had a huge bearing on the result last year with a 2.77 shot differential between the day one morning starters and the day one afternoon starters over the first two rounds and of the first nine players home, Matt Kuchar was the only one who started the tournament on Thursday afternoon.

Is There an Identikit Winner?

Kirk was 28 when he won but he has the air of an experienced calm veteran and this is an event where the older players have performed well. With length not an issue, and with tricky windy conditions often present, experienced shorter hitters have a chance to shine. 

The first two winners of the PGA Tour season have been outsiders and we could very easily get a third big-priced winner here. Kirk went off at around 50.049/1 last year but there were some monster-priced players placed and very few backed Tommy Gainey twelve months earlier. 

In-Play Tactics

If you enjoy backing an outsider on a Sunday evening that could just put in a charge form off the pace then this is definitely the event for you. Tim Clark began round four trading at a triple figure price and five off the lead 12 months ago but was matched at just 4.03/1 after he'd shot a final round of 62. He would have made a playoff had Kirk not birdied the penultimate hole and the two previous winners won from miles back. Tommy Gainey and Ben Crane came from seven and five shots back respectively and I'm quite looking forward to Sunday. 

Market Leaders

It's hard to pick holes in the three market leaders here but I've had a go! I have to be really convinced to back anyone at a low price before the off and I'm not here. 

Sea Island resident, Matt Kuchar, won at the aforementioned Hilton Head last year and as already stated, he managed to finish tied for seventh from the wrong end of the draw last year. I can see Kuchar contending but he's just so unreliable that I'm more than happy to let him go. He was bang there again with a round to go at the Open a fortnight ago but disappointed badly and he's not one to trust in-the-mix.

Webb Simpson rallied form slightly off the pace on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to finish tied for fourth and after a poor Ryder Cup, he'll be happy to have gotten that performance under his belt. He was runner-up here three years ago and he finished alongside Kuchar last year so we know the course suits but he's short enough for me given his putting hasn't been tip-top of late.

Defending champ, Chris Kirk, will have his supporters given he's since won the Deutsche Bank Championship and finished fourth at the Tour Championship but defending is never easy and he's very easy to pass over at less than 20.019/1.


I liked plenty of players this week and have done well to limit myself to just seven but I'm ashamed to say I've felt obliged to back Scott Brown again, despite thinking his price is awful. Twelve months ago I watched with a heavy heart as Chris Kirk won a year after I'd backed him and having backed Brown last year I don't want history to repeat itself.

There's no denying that Georgia-born Brown is in form and that he likes the venue but I took 250.0249/1 about him before he finished fourth 12 months ago and I know I'm not getting any value at 44.043/1 but I didn't want to leave him out completely so I've had a very modest bet.

Russell Henley and Brian Harman were both born in Georgia, went to college in Georgia and they both still live there - Harman actually lives at Sea Island. And that's just one reason I've backed them both...

Henley was poor here on debut last year but both his PGA Tour wins have come on similar courses to this so the venue really should suit him. He won the Sony Open on his PGA Tour debut and he won a playoff at the Honda Classic back in March, at the par 70 PGA National. He also won in his home state on the Tour and finished 6th at Hilton Head on last year. 

Harman, finished 27th on debut here in 2012 and he followed that with a 10th last year. He impressed me greatly when he powered home to win the John Deere Classic in July and he has form at Hilton Head too having finished seventh there last year. His form tailed off a bit after he'd won but that's totally understandable and being refreshed and playing on a course he knows well could well see him contend again. 

George McNeill led here after an opening 62 last year and shot 63 in round two last week and Michael Thompson has form figures reading 3-10, so they've been included and I've also chanced two other huge outsiders. 

This looks just the sort of test to suit Ben Curtis and his form figures, that read 15-48-27-32, aren't awful. He hasn't been getting great results of late but he is putting well and former US Open winner and Sea Island resident, Lucas Glover, just looked too big a price to ignore given he'll know the course well. He was 40th last year and missed the cut in the inaugural event in 2010 but he did manage 15th in 2011.

Scott Brown @ 44.043/1
Russell Henley @ 55.054/1
Brian Harman @ 60.059/1
George McNeil @ 90.089/1
Michael Thompson @ 100.099/1
Ben Curtis @ 330.0329/1
Lucas Glover @ 790.0789/1

I'll be back shortly with my Perth international preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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