This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
THE RSM CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.296M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Courses: Seaside (primary) and Plantation at Sea Island Golf Club
Yardage: 7,005 Seaside/7,060 Plantation
2020 champion: Robert Streb
One of the things golf fans love best about golf is that it hardly ever stops. Well, it's about to stop.
Following this week's RSM Classic, the PGA Tour will break for six weeks till after New Year's. Oh, there will still tournaments. Notably there's The Match between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka the day after Thanksgiving – though that has lost plenty of luster after they hugged it out at the Ryder Cup – and Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in early December – though that won't be the same without Woods playing. Elsewhere, there will be real tournaments going on around the world through the end of the year, specifically in Asia, Australia and the European Tour's South Africa Swing starting next week. Technically, by then the "European Tour" will be no more, replaced in name by the "DP World Tour." The final event in the 50-year history of what is officially called the "PGA European Tour" takes place concurrent to the RSM, with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. That's actually the biggest tournament this week.
But our focus here is on St. Simons Island. The RSM has been the traditional fall-swing finale since 2014, save last year when the schedule became a pandemic-induced mish-mash. This is just the 12th edition of the tournament, having debuted in 2010. Technically, they call this tournament the RSM Classic *hosted by Davis Love III* – and with good reason: It is hosted by Davis Love III.
Last year, the tournament got a huge bump coming the week after the Masters, with some three dozen guys making the 200-mile trek south from Augusta. No such luck this time around. There will be the usual central cast of characters that comes year after year, and they are golfers connected to the Sea Island Golf Club or other Georgia-centric guys.
Specifically, four of the top-25 in the world rankings and 13 of the top-50 will be on hand. It started out so much better, but Jason Kokrak, Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im and Lee Westwood all pulled out after the field was announced. The tournament still has No. 9-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, No. 12 Harris English, No. 17 Scottie Scheffler, No. 22 Cameron Smith and No. 26. Webb Simpson. English is part of the big Sea Island contingent, along with 2015 champion Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman, Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Patton Kizzire, Hudson Swafford and Jonathan Byrd. In all, there are some two-dozen-plus guys with ties to Georgia in some fashion (Georgia, Georgia Tech, Augusta State, etc.).
The field is a maxed-out 156 for the first time this fall season. The RSM used to be 132, but six years ago they added a second course to help beat darkness, and with it two dozen scrubs to make gamers' jobs that much harder. Bringing up the rear will be some three dozen Korn Ferry grads, along with other assorted sponsor invites, medical extensions, career money exceptions and the like.
Golfers will play the Seaside and Plantation courses once each over the first two days before sticking to Seaside for the final two rounds. Seaside dates to 1929 with a Tom Fazio renovation in 1999. It is a short links-style, oceanfront par-70 with wide fairways and big Bermudagrass greens, averaging 7,200 square feet. There are only two par-5s. Of the 12 par-4s, nine of them are under 430 yards. Driver will not be needed much. There is water on 13 holes. The golfers will often be hitting irons off the tee and short irons to the green. Really, the key to success this week will be from the fairway on in. Wind is the course's biggest defense.
Plantation is more of a parkland-style track with lots of trees, and two years ago it reopened after a complete year-long overhaul by Love and his design company. We won't focus heavily on the changes, since the course is used for just one round, but the greens also are Bermudagrass and smaller than Seaside, averaging only 6,100 square feet. There is water on 10 holes.
Last season, Plantation gave the golfers more trouble than Seaside, which ranked as the 12th easiest track on Tour.
Weather-wise, Thursday should be the nicest day of the week for the golfers – mid-70s, little wind. But thereafter it will be cooler and windier, with temperatures topping out in the mid-60s and the wind nearing 20 mph. It should be rain-free all week.
Key Stats to Winning at Seaside
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in order of importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards
• Approaches from 125-150 yards
2020 - Robert Streb
2019 - Tyler Duncan
2018 - Charles Howell III
2017 - Austin Cook
2016 - Mackenzie Hughes
2015 - Kevin Kisner
2014 - Robert Streb
2013 - Chris Kirk
2012 - Tommy Gainey
2011 - Ben Crane
Let's not even talk tee balls. Let's start from the fairway, the wide fairways of Seaside. Somehow, Streb managed to win despite ranking only 31st in greens in regulation and 30th in Strokes Gained: Approach. He beat Kevin Kisner in a playoff, and Kisner was seventh in GIR. That number is much more the victor's norm. Duncan was fourth in GIR, Howell was first and Cook was second. Streb-Kisner was the third playoff in as many years, after Duncan surprised Webb Simpson and Howell bested Patrick Rodgers. Simpson ranked fourth in SG: Approach. Rodgers didn't have great approach numbers, but he led the field in SG: Putting. In looking at what golfers have said about the tournament in past years, quite a few of them say that experience matters, that the greens are tricky. Maybe so, but five of the 10 champions won the tournament in their first visit – Cook, Hughes, Streb, Crane and Heath Slocum in 2010 (obviously Slocum, because that was the maiden RSM). The winning score is usually in the mid-teens, a number Kisner blew past with his record 22-under total. Cook (21-under) almost matched it. Duncan and Howell both shot 19-under, along with Streb and Kisner last year. The over/under on the winning score at golfodds.com this year is 264.5 – 17.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Scottie Scheffler - $10,900 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1000)
Hopefully, Scheffler has gotten last week's giveaway of the Houston Open out of his system. He's finished top-5 in his past two starts – including the Houston runner-up. He was also top-5 in his lone RSM two years ago. Scheffler is among the Tour leaders in approaches from 125-150 yards.
Webb Simpson - $10,700 (+1200)
This is one of the go-to tracks for Simpson, though it's not quite Wyndham-strong. He has two RSM runners-up and also a solo third, but he's never won it in nine visits. He's also had some clunkers, including last year's tie for 37th. But we should note the field was especially strong lat year. Not so this time around.
Cameron Smith - $10,300 (+1400)
This will be Smith's Sea Island debut, but as noted above, numerous first-timers have won here. He's played well in the fall swing – ninth at the CJ Cup and 15th last week in Houston. Smith's world-class short game should come in especially handy this week, more so than last week.
Corey Conners - $9,900 (+2200)
Conners is so dead-on accurate – maybe only Collin Morikawa could be considered better – that he has the potential to go super low despite not being a great putter. But this just in: Conners is ranked 30th in putting this season, though he's played only two events. He finished 10th here a year ago.
Tier 2 Values
Alex Noren - $9,500 (+3500)
Noren was outside the top 100 of the OWGR earlier this year. Now 63rd, this likely will be his last shot to crack the top 50 before the year's end and earn an automatic Masters berth. Of course, a victory here would kill two birds with one golf ball. The veteran Swede finished top-10 in the first two playoff events at the end of last season, and has added two more top-20s this season. He's also done well here, 18th last year and 10th in 2019. Noren is ranked top-25 this season in par-4 400-450.
Kevin Kisner - $9,200 (+2500)
Yeah, not exactly breaking news to find Kisner here. He won in 2015, lost in a playoff last year and has three other top-10s. Really, $9,200 seems like a bargain. But of course he will be a very popular pick among gamers.
Mackenzie Hughes - $8,600 (+5000)
Hughes won here in 2016 when he was going by "Mac." Now back to Mackenzie, he surprisingly has done next to nothing here since then, missing three out of four cuts with a T65 in the other one. (Maybe go back to "Mac" for one week only?) There's no denying the course is a great fit for his game, and a good week would cement a year-end top-50 OWGR position. Hughes is at 50 right now.
Seamus Power - $8,200 (40-1)
The secret of Seamus Power really isn't a secret anymore. He began the year ranked in the 400s and now is 89th. He won the Barbasol and has four other top-10s, plus two recent top-12s in the new season. Power has missed the cut in three of his four RSM visits, but of course that was a golf lifetime ago for him.
Tier 3 Values
Patrick Rodgers - $7,700 (+8000)
In the past five years, Rodgers has missed the cut here three times. But he's also finished 10th and second, losing in a playoff to Howell in 2018. Rodgers led the field in putting that year. This could be an all-or-nothing play, but at $7,700 and 80-1, that seems worth the risk. After being forced to the Korn Ferry playoffs to keep his PGA Tour card, Rodgers already has a pair of top-6s in the new season.
Aaron Rai - $7,400 (+9000)
Rai is starting to find his footing in the States. The Englishman was among a group of fairly high profile internationals who took to the Korn Ferry playoffs to secure their PGA Tour card. After three missed cuts to start the season, he's made three in a row, including top-20s the past two weeks at two very different tracks at Mayakoba and Houston.
Henrik Norlander - $7,300 (+11000)
Two of Norlander's best PGA Tour finishes have come in the RSM: runner-up to Mackenzie Hughes in 2016, tied for fifth in 2019. He missed last year's tournament after testing positive for COVID. Overall, Norlander has made 11 of his past 12 cuts, including all five this season, with a top-5 at the Sanderson Farms. Perhaps his biggest weakness is distance off the tee, which of course will be mitigated this week.
Patton Kizzire - $7,100 (+13000)
The Alabama native and Auburn alum comes back every year. He's made four straight cuts, two of them top-15s, including a tie for 10th last year. Kizzire doesn't miss that many cuts – single digits the past two years – and that's often because he's a very good putter.
Andrew Landry - $6,800 (+13000)
Landry is a good fit at certain tracks – specifically, shorter ones. He recently finished T7 at Mayakoba and was even better at the Sanderson Farms, tying for fourth. He also finished fourth here last year, the second time in four years he's done that at the RSM.
Michael Thompson - $6,700 (+15000)
Thompson has made four straight cuts – including T15 at Mayakoba – and seven of his past eight. The 36-year-old Alabama alum is one of the shortest, most accurate drivers on Tour, and a good putter, so this track aligns nicely to his game. Thompson has two top-10s and two other top-20s here through the years.
Davis Riley - $6,700 (+15000)
The Korn Ferry grad has made three of six cuts this season, with a top-10 at Bermuda. Another Alabama alum, Riley is familiar with Seaside because they played the SEC men's golf tournament there, and he also was in the RSM two years ago. He made the cut.
Davis Thompson - $6,400 (+20000)
The 22-year-old former Georgia Bulldog already is quite familiar with this tournament, and not only because he lives on Sea Island and his father is the tournament director. This will be Thompson's third go-round at the RSM, debuting with a top-25 as an amateur two years ago. That same year, he played in the SEC men's tournament at Seaside. Thompson even has made four of his past five cuts on the PGA Tour going back to last season, including the recent Sanderson Farms.