Can J.T. Poston deliver a First Round Leader score?
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Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
We've reached the final PGA TOUR event of the year. TOUR cards and qualification for Signature Events in 2024 are on the line this week in St. Simons Island, Georgia, as The RSM Classic wraps up the FedExCup Fall. That means one final shot at a First Round Leader (FRL) until January.
We began our weekly FRL write-up back in March and Alex Noren cashing for us last week was our third correct selection of the year. That rounds out to about one ticket cashed every two-and-a-half months. In that very first column back in March, I spelled it out - that the FRL market is the toughest one to beat on the entire golf betting menu. I'll say it again as we wind down the 2023 campaign - I recommend your lowest amount of risk be utilized in the FRL market.
It is a bet with which I find great enjoyment. Watching that leaderboard develop as Thursday unfolds with some action in hand. Hitting three in not even a full season is solid in my opinion but if it is any reflection on how difficult the FRL market it is, comparatively speaking, I have hit eight pre-tournament outright winners since last November. That is about one every one-and-a-half months.
My aim is not only to provide insightful handicapping, find an edge, and suggest wagers that present good value, but also to educate the reader and make all of you more responsible, efficient, and thus more successful in your pursuit of a good time and a few winners along the way.
Now let's see if we can grab one more.
All-time shots from The RSM Classic
The RSM Classic presents us with another venue that should provide somewhat of a birdie-fest. Both the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course will be in play for the first two days with each player getting a round in on each course before moving exclusively to the Seaside Course for the weekend.
Both courses are short at just a few ticks over 7,000 yards. Driving Accuracy is preferred over Driving Distance. Hitting greens in regulation is a big key to success here, as is putting on the Bermuda grass greens. As always, with our look into a First Round Leader, I paid special attention to Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass).
The Plantation Course has played the easier of the two on average, so I am going to go with two players that are beginning on this side and one that will get things started on the Seaside Course.
J.T. Poston (+2000)
J.T. Poston attacks flagstick to yield eagle at Shriners Children's Open
Poston will tee it up on the Seaside Course on Thursday. BetMGM has broken the market in two – into an FRL on the Seaside and an FRL on the Plantation – so while we are being dealt a shorter number than usual, we are playing against half the field size too. Over the last 24 rounds, Poston is third in this field (the entire field) for Strokes Gained: Approach, 54th for SG: Putting (Bermudagrass), and second for Birdies or Better Gained. He also ranks 63rd on TOUR for Bogey Avoidance. Poston has only played once in the FedExCup Fall but that resulted in a third-place finish at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas after he opened on Thursday with a round of 63.
Denny McCarthy (+2200)
McCarthy is solid across the board in all the stats I considered this week. Over the last 24 rounds, he is 58th in SG: Approach, 35th in Birdies or Better Gained, and 22nd in SG: Putting (Bermudagrass). He ranks 27th on TOUR in Bogey Avoidance and 23rd in First Round Scoring Average. McCarthy has also fared well at two of the correlated courses I considered this week – Innisbrook where he has finished ninth and 19th at the Valspar Championship, and Port Royal Golf Course where McCarthy has recorded two top-six finishes at the Bermuda Championship.
Matti Schmid (+3300)
Schmid comes off a nice week last week at the Bermuda Championship where he opened with a 64, closed with a 65, and finished third overall. Over the last 24 rounds, he ranks 48th in this field for SG: Approach, 11th for Birdies or Better Gained, and 41st for SG: Putting (Bermudagrass). Schmid also ranks sixth in this field for Greens in Regulation Gained and ninth in SG: Par 4’s measuring between 400-450 yards – of which there are 13 between these two golf courses.