Golfbet Insider: The RSM Classic
10 Min Read
Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
The RSM Classic is the anchor leg of seven tournaments contributing to the inaugural FedExCup Fall, so it concludes the first segment of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf. When the dust settles, gift cards with respective values of $500 and $300 will be rewarded to the first- and second-place finishers overall.
If you play the game, note that the FedExCup Fall is the new name of this segment. Segments 1, 2 and 3 will follow. So, if you’re a veteran of the format, it’s different than in previous years when the season was segregated into Segments 1, 2, 3 and 4. No other changes have occurred.
Sea Island Resort’s Seaside and Plantation Courses split duties as co-hosts in the first two rounds. Only Seaside is utilized after the 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties occurs. As a result, there’s a serious consideration to tailor your roster in the first two rounds to capitalize on the easier of the two courses.
Seaside is a stock par 70 and Plantation is a stock par 72. This means that Plantation has two more par 5s. It’s also only 55 yards longer at just 7,060 yards. Since par breakers yield more fantasy points than pars, and because every edge matters, review the tee times for which half of the field is playing where and when before locking in your roster. Scorecards for golfers selected on your roster page will populate, but because the courses have different pars, it’s irrelevant that the names of the courses don’t appear there.
Adam Svensson reflects on his 2022 win at The RSM Classic
As it concerns how to play it in less-than-perfect weather because winds are expected to gust upwards of 20 mph on Thursday, it’s valuable to review recent editions with similar breezes. However, in a nutshell, what I wrote in the Power Rankings referring to the school of thought that golfers should prefer to play the easier course in easier conditions applies.
The only anomaly in the set of recent comps was the first round in 2020 when Plantation averaged a whopping 0.590 strokes over par on the same day that Seaside was just under. Overall, Plantation yielded only 14 more par breakers that day, far fewer than all other comps.
The eye test is all you need in calm air because the guys with two more par 5s always will total more par breakers than the guys without, so affirmation to stick with Plantation early and often in the wind this week aligns.
This also serves as a template for One & Doners and for all lines in betting. In a tiebreaker situation, going with the golfer in the Plantation-Seaside rotation could be lucrative.
Because The RSM Classic is the last official PGA TOUR event of 2023, this is the last edition of Golfbet Insider until the new season starts with The Sentry in the first week of January. However, it won’t be my last content of the year.
After the usual recap package for The RSM Classic on Sunday, I’ll be filing full-field Power Rankings for the Hero World Challenge and the Grant Thornton Invitational during the Challenge Season. Also, my annual full-membership fantasy ranking will be published early in the second full week of December. Follow me on X for announcements and links. Feel free to communicate with me anytime, publicly or privately.
As always, thank you for your time and your loyalty to my contributions to PGATOUR.com. This is me raising a glass to wish you and yours an outstanding holiday season!
Zach Johnson (+160 = Top 40) … Only he and Chris Kirk have pegged it in every edition of The RSM Classic. While Kirk prevailed in 2013 and has recorded a pair of T4s, Johnson has settled for no better than a T6 (in 2020), but his three top 10s among six top 20s match Kirk’s totals. Johnson recorded four of his top 20s in the last six editions. He opened with a bogey-free, 9-under 61 on Seaside just two years ago.
Johnson hasn’t played since before the Ryder Cup for which he was the United States captain. The rest in the interim tilts toward the ironic because he was about as busy as usual in the construct of the full season. The results have been so-so, but that he remained active and present all the while cashing 13 times in 21 starts is better than the norm for any captain. It’s not insignificant.
When asked on Tuesday for an analysis of his game in advance of the last tournament of the 2022-23 campaign, his simple, concise response was refreshing for investors who see this as a potential opportunity to capitalize on the fact that the rigors of the Ryder Cup are over and that he’s been able to separate for as long as he has.
“I've actually been able to work as of late, which is nice. It's been a nice change and much needed escape. My game feels great.”
My take: Arriving 168th in the FedExCup, Johnson needs a two-way T2 to consider finishing inside the top 125. Short of that or even the top 150 for conditional status in 2024, he still has a career earnings exemption (top 50) to burn if he wants. He’ll turn 48 in February.
The moral of the matter is that he’s not dealing with the same degree of pressure that many in the field of 156 are facing at Sea Island. Sure, he’s still a professional athlete who thrives on competition, but the stakes are different because he has an option that retains fully exempt status. Based on that, the closing of the Ryder Cup chapter, the rest, his fit and his experience at Sea Island, I was expecting shorter odds for this prop.
Odds were sourced on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 a.m. ET. For live odds, visit BetMGM.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Matt Kuchar (+175 = Top 20) … This might not seem like a reach what with a T2, a T7 and a T19 in his last four starts worldwide, but he hasn’t connected for a top 20 here since last year when Seaside flew solo as the host in 2014 (T7). All five of his paydays since have been top 40s, but you’d have to multiply your units to feel any fortune with that line at (-145) for the veteran. Remember, because of his low, boring tee ball, he’s nails in the wind and he’s benefited from the short tests in his backyard.
NOTE: These are notables who are not included in my Power Rankings or Sleepers. Connect with me on X if you want analysis, insight and opinion for anyone else.
Luke List (+188 = Top 20) … He might as well keep on striking while the irons are hot. Although his win at the Sanderson Farms Championship yielded a spot in The Sentry, he’s still not exempt into the second and third Signature Events. However, he hasn’t relented since the playoff victory, and last week’s T20 in Bermuda lifted him into The Next 10 at 58th. Of course, the job isn’t over until the whistle blows. That’s bad news for wannabes outside the bubble, not just because he’s riding some of the best form of his career but also because he’s hung up three top 15s at Sea Island since 2016.
Ludvig Åberg, Russell Henley and Cameron Young (-105 = All to Make the Cut) … This prop fulfills my promise that Young would appear in this preview, but he’s only +100 for a top 20, so let’s retreat into a safer space and parlay him with a pair in my Power Rankings. Of the trio, Åberg and Young are in the Plantation-Seaside rotation, so that’s handy. Young also made the most cuts and finished T29 in his only prior trip in 2021.
Cameron Young’s one-of-a-kind irons
Si Woo Kim (+210 = Miss the Cut) … It’d be an educational exercise to review how the 24 golfers available on this board fare based on their draw. He opens on Plantation, so he has that going for him, but he also missed the cut in his last three trips. Yes, it’s been four years since the most recent but he also missed the cut in his only prior appearance of the FedExCup Fall for which he was No. 1 in my Power Rankings. Veteran gamers in all pursuits already are aware of his propensity to play Whac-A-Mole with us, so settling on a fraction of a unit for a rough week is reasonable.
NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore
• Will Gordon (+375 = Top 20)
• Padraig Harrington (+170 = Top 40)
• Mark Hubbard (+115 = Top 40)
• Justin Lower (+160 = Top 40)
• Denny McCarthy (+160 = Top 20)
• Troy Merritt (+180 = Top 40)
• Doc Redman (+240 = Top 40)
• Matti Schmid (+125 = Top German)
• Robert Streb (+225 = Top 40)
• Josh Teater (+260 = Top 40)
• Davis Thompson (+225 = Top 20)
• Camilo Villegas (+175 = Top South American)
• Vince Whaley (+130 = Top 40)
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Davis Riley … In the absence of news to explain an injury, an illness or a personal matter, he’s the most curious early withdrawal of the week. At 66th in the FedExCup and not yet exempt into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and The Genesis Invitational. However, as co-champion of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, he’s poised to make his debut at The Sentry where he can effectively get a head start on The Swing 5 for the second Signature Event.
Aaron Rai … With top 10s in the last two stops on his native DP World Tour, he’s risen to 52nd in the Race to Dubai, so he’s a highly positioned alternate for the DP World Tour Championship, albeit unlikely to crash the field of 50. As for his status on the PGA TOUR, he had little trouble in his sophomore season and sits 72nd in the FedExCup.
David Lipsky … The RSM Classic will be the only tournament of the FedExCup Fall in which he doesn’t compete. He’s 97th in the FedExCup and set for 2024 but he’d need a victory to qualify for The Next 10.
Chad Ramey … It’s his third early withdrawal in as many weeks but it won’t cost him a thing. At 118th in the FedExCup, he’s comfortable enough inside the bubble to snare a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship, and he’s been exempt through 2024 since breaking through for victory at the Corales Puntacana Championship in 2022.
Nicolai Højgaard … His equivalent FedExCup points total of 465.702 would slot him 115th among members and almost 35 points clear of falling outside the top 125, so he’s a virtual lock to secure his 2024 PGA TOUR card via the non-member top 125 conduit. The 22-year-old’s better play of late has occurred on his native DP World Tour, so he’s proven both how difficult it can be to juggle two tours and how success can be achieved on both in the long term.
RECAP: Butterfield Bermuda Championship
Golfer (recommended bet) = Result
• Fabián Gómez (+125 = Top 40) = MC
• *Justin Lower (+188 = Top 20) = T20
• *Ryan Moore (+110 = Top 40) = T5
• *Doc Redman (+130 = Top 40) = T13
• Austin Smotherman (+100 = Top 40) = T59
Bet = Result
• *WILD CARD: Ryan Palmer (+175 = Top 20) = T8
• *ALSO STARRING: Mark Hubbard (+138 = Top 20) = T20
• ALSO STARRING: Doug Ghim (+110 = Top 20) = MC
• *TAP-IN: PARLAY: Ryan Palmer, Vince Whaley and Dylan Wu (+135 = All to Make the Cut) = T8/T8/T30
• TAP-IN: Jonathan Byrd (+250 = Top 40) = MC
• TAP-IN: Russell Knox (+120 = Top 40) = T76
• TAP-IN: Kelly Kraft (+130 = Top 40) = T53
• TAP-IN: Davis Riley (+240 = Miss the Cut) = T45
• *TAP-IN: Camilo Villegas (+350 = Top South American) = Win
* For the recommendations above, an asterisk represents a bet that won.
The PGA TOUR is committed to protecting our fans. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, the National Council on Problem Gambling operates a confidential toll-free hotline that you can reach by phone or text at 1-800-522-4700.
Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.