Power Rankings: The RSM Classic
3 Min Read
Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
The RSM Classic is the last of nine stops before the traditional holiday hiatus. A year ago, an official trip to Mayakoba was scheduled after Thanksgiving, so, amid a pandemic, concluding the fall portion of any season beforehand no longer is taken for granted.
A maximum field of 156 assembles as usual at Sea Island Golf Club in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. To accommodate a gathering of that size at this latitude in mid-November, two courses are used for the first two rounds. Every golfer will play one round each on Seaside and Plantation. Once the 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties is determined, only Seaside will host the third and final rounds.
For a review of the tracks with different pars, what it should require to succeed and more, scroll past the projected contenders.
Among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider will be Talor Gooch, Joaquin Niemann and Branden Grace, as well as former RSM champions Mackenzie Hughes (2016) and Charles Howell III (2018).
A not-so-funny thing happened at the Plantation Course last year. After billing as a gettable stock par 72 with a scoring average of 70.439 in its debut as a redesign in 2019, it opened to an average of 72.590 last year. Then, as originally anticipated, it dropped to 70.066 in the second round, but the damage already was done.
A challenging wind was consistent over the first two days last year, too, but Seaside, a stock par 70, checked in with respective averages of 69.883 and 68.679.
Plantation customarily has been the spot to pile up the par breakers. Ever since it was added (and generated a rotation) in 2015, the tried-and-true objective was to capitalize on the one loop granted and its par 5s. That remains a goal, but with an early forecast of calm air on Thursday and gusty winds on Friday, the half of the draw that attempts to tackle Planation in the second round will be wise to be sure to take advantage of what could be record scoring at Seaside in the opener. Daytime highs will drop from the mid-70s on Thursday into the mid-60s for the remainder. There’s a small threat of rain on the weekend, but an interruption of play isn’t expected.
Like with all courses situated along and near a body of water over which the horizon is only more water, wind dictates the speeds of greens, but fairness across two rounds is imperative. Seaside is expected to measure as long as 13 feet on the Stimpmeter, but that likely wouldn’t happen until the weekend if it does at all because the wind will continue to push in heartily from the north. Plantation’s greens are prepped to touch 12 feet. All 36 greens are carpeted with non-overseeded bermudagrass.
Despite the wind, overall scoring for what is a 72-hole, even-par aggregate of 282 will be low. Robert Streb and Kevin Kisner concluded regulation last year in 19-under 263 to clinch the third straight year with that winning score, and then Streb prevailed in a playoff. He also survived a playoff in the last edition for which Seaside was the solo host in 2014, but his aggregate that year was 14-under 266.
ShotLink is used only on Seaside, but Streb’s 72-hole calculations last year positioned him T7 in greens in regulation, 11th in putts per GIR, 17th in putting: birdies-or-better and fifth in scrambling. It was a balanced attack on a pair of courses each tipping at just over 7,000 yards. Distance off the tee is not a prerequisite to be the last to qualify for the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Fantasy Insider
SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Rookie Ranking
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.