Confidence Factor: The RSM Classic
November 13, 2018
By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
Fantasy Outlook: The RSM Classic
The golden road to the TOUR Championship ends the 2018 portion of the 2018-19 season schedule on the Golden Isles of Georgia this week at The RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort on St. Simons Island. Resort life is the calling again this week as the first full-field event of the season will have 156 players trying to capture the eighth trophy of the new season. This is last call before the holidays and the final attempt to book a place at the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Maui to kick off the new calendar year in early January. The Seaside course will serve as host on the weekend, but everyone will get one chance at Plantation before the field is paired down to the top 70 and ties after Round 2. Austin Cook picked up his first win on TOUR at this event last year and is back to defend his title.
The Seaside course has had a hand in all previous eight Classics but it was joined by the 18 holes of Plantation for the 2016 edition. This allowed the field to expand to the maximum of 156 and give the Web.com graduates another crack before the reshuffle after this week. The Seaside track is, relatively speaking, the more difficult of the two while Plantation checks in as one of the least-difficult challenges annually on TOUR. The winning total averages 20-under-par since Plantation was added so there's no mystery in what will be required AGAIN this week. The lowest of the low will rack up $1.152 million of the $6.4 million prize pool, collect 500 FedExCup points and will book the final place in the field (if not already qualified) at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
TALE OF THE TAPE
WINNERS STAT Austin Cook (2017) Mackenzie Hughes (2016) Kevin Kisner (2015) Driving Accuracy T4 T11 T17 Greens in Regulation T2 T50 T9 Putts per GIR 11th 1st 1st Putting: Birdie-or-Better % 5th 2nd 1st Scrambling T1 2nd 3rd Bogey Avoidance 2nd T5 1st Par-3 Scoring T20 T23 T17 Par-4 Scoring 1st 5th 1st Par-5 Scoring 3rd T8 T14 Total, Winning Score (to par) 261 (-21) 265 (-17) 260 (-22) event record
Last year Cook used just his 14th TOUR start to claim a comfortable four-shot victory in his first attempt at The RSM Classic. That sounds impressive but 2017 champion Mackenzie Hughes won a five-man playoff in just his ninth start in the big leagues! Cook ended up blistering Seaside the first time he saw it to the tune of 62 to tie the 36-hole record. He went one better in Round 3 as he established the new 54-hole mark on 18-under plus matching the largest lead (three shots) after three rounds. The former Monday qualifier du jour for gamers stuck a cherry on top as he cruised home to win by four shots in a blustery final round. He missed tying Kevin Kisner's tournament record by a shot but his 23 birdies against just two bogeys provided a comfortable maiden victory. Look at those splits above!
Hughes needed a playoff plus a Monday finish to vanquish his FOUR opponents who joined him on 17-under after 72 holes. Daylight, not the weather, caused the chilly Monday morning to determine a winner and the Canadian didn't seem too bothered by the conditions. The first round he played on the Seaside course he popped it for 61 to lead after 18 holes, stressing that previous experience here is a bonus rather than a requirement. As the wind barely blew thru Round 2, 37 bogey-free rounds were accumulated and the cut came in at a whopping 5-under-par. Hughes, and the addition of the breeze, made the proceedings interesting in Round 3 as he took a triple that allowed the field to hang around. Only Henrik Norlander from that group of four returns this year for another crack at the title.
The 2016 edition introduced the Plantation course (36 holes) and thereby a full-field event as 156 players would be able to complete play before sunset. South Carolina native Kisner wasted no time blasting the Par-72 Plantation course for 65, a "record" that still stands today. It's not official because Rounds 1 and 2 both used lift, clean and replace due to wet conditions. The wind blew the first two days but the cut was still 140 (-2) so this isn't the week to scratch out multiple pars. The gusting winds continued throughout the weekend but Kisner wasn't fazed. He closed 64-64 to romp to a six-shot victory and picked up his first TOUR victory. He circled 22 birdies and one eagle against only two bogeys as his margin of victory remains the largest in tournament history.
NOTE: Golfers inside the top 30-ish in each category last season.
* - Finished inside the top 10 since 2010.
1 *Webb Simpson
5 *Brian Gay
7 *Jim Furyk
13 *Alex Cejka
16 Seamus Power
18 *Chris Kirk
20 Joel Dahmen
23 *Ben Crane
30 *Zach Johnson
32 *Austin Cook
33 *Charles Howell III
4 *Webb Simpson
10 *Kevin Streelman
10 *Zach Johnson
15 Joel Dahmen
15 *Chris Kirk
15 Hunter Mahan
27 Aaron Wise
27 *Stewart Cink
27 *C.T. Pan
27 *J.J. Spaun
Greens in Regulation
2 Sam Ryder
5 *Kevin Streelman
6 *C.T. Pan
16 J.J. Henry
22 Corey Conners
23 *Michael Thompson
27 Tyler Duncan
27 *Charles Howell III
34 *J.J. Spaun
35 Keith Mitchell
8 Ricky Barnes
12 Ollie Schniederjans
13 Brandon Harkins
16 Sam Saunders
22 *Brian Gay
24 Aaron Wise
25 *Rickie Fowler
26 *Tom Hoge
27 Peter Malnati
30 Chesson Hadley
Seaside will host three of the four rounds but barely cracks 7,000 yards at 7,005 (Par-70) so the bombers won't have much of an advantage this week. The wind is always in play here and that's why the fairways and greens have some girth to them. The Tifdwarf Bermuda greens are the third different putting surface in three weeks but birdies will fly in here just like they did in Las Vegas (Bentgrass) and Mayakoba (Paspalum) as the speeds won't be anything out of the ordinary. The rough isn't a factor so scrambling will be required and so will a hot putter. The bunkers and rough off the tee and into the greens will be reserved for the exceptions, not the rules, this week. Seaside resides in the top half of easiest courses on TOUR annually.
Plantation has the same grasses and green speeds but adds a pair of Par-5 holes on its 6,907-yard layout. It has ranked inside the top-10 easiest courses on TOUR in the three events it has been used for The RSM Classic. The one chance players will get should see them take advantage of their loop. As we've seen at TPC Summerlin and El Camaleon, when scoring is the key, the field opens up greatly. The lack of length on these two tracks won't decrease that openness this week, either!
The cut has been under-par in every event that has required one this fall and that shouldn't change this week. The last three editions at Sea Island Resort have seen 2-under or BETTER chop the field at the halfway point. Par is about as useful as a belt after Thanksgiving dinner so imagine what bogeys or worse will do to a scorecard! The wind blows on these seaside courses but the scoring the last three years suggests it does not have any major influence on the outcome over the four rounds.
Odds and Ends
• In the previous eight editions, five winners have picked up their first TOUR victory.
• Of the previous four winners, all secured their first TOUR victory.
• Five winners had never played the event previously including three of the last four.
• There has never been a repeat champion or a multiple winner.
• The course record 60 at Seaside was posted by Tommy Gainey in the final round of his victory in 2012.
• No current resident has ever finished on top.
Rob Bolton's Power Rankings has added course details and historical values. It's also who I trust with the weather each week so pay attention!
NOTE: The groups below are comprehensive to assist in data mining. Inclusion doesn't imply automatic endorsement in every fantasy game as all decisions are specific to your situation. These results range from 2010 thru last season.
CONFIDENCE MEN Selected golfers with multiple cuts made sorted by rank on the tournament's money list. Rank Player Cuts Made/Starts Top 10s Best Finish 1 Kevin Kisner 5/7 3 Win (2016) 2 Chris Kirk 6/8 3 Win (2014) 5 Robert Streb 3/4 1 Win (2015)
BUILDING CONFIDENCE Sorted by best finish, selected golfers who are either finally finding form on the course or are still relatively new to the tournament but have enjoyed some success. Player Cuts Made/Starts Top 10s Best Finish Austin Cook 1/1 1 Win (2018) J.J. Spaun 2/2 1 2nd (2018) Andrew Landry 1/2 1 T4 (2018) Zach Johnson 5/8 1 T8 (2018) Bud Cauley 3/3 1 T8 (2018) Vaughn Taylor 2/5 1 T8 (2018) Ben Silverman 1/1 1 T8 (2018) Mackenzie Hughes 1/2 1 Win (2017) Jamie Lovemark 2/3 2 T6 (2017) C.T. Pan 2/2 1 T6 (2017) Ollie Schniederjans 1/2 1 T6 (2017) Stewart Cink 5/7 1 T10 (2017) Freddie Jacobson 1/3 1 5 (2016) Alex Cejka 2/4 1 T6 (2016) Jason Dufner 1/1 1 T9 (2016) Kevin Stadler 2/2 1 T10 (2014)
OTHER SIGNS OF CONFIDENCE Sorted by most recent top 10s, selected golfers for whom it's been a few years since their last. Player Cuts Made/Starts Top 10s Last Best/Other Brian Gay 4/6 2 3 (2018) T4 (2014) Brian Harman 4/6 2 T4 (2018) T10 (2014) Henrik Norlander 2/3 1 P2 (2017) P2 (2017) Jim Furyk 3/3 2 T6 (2017) 3 (2012) Russell Henley 4/4 3 T10 (2017) T4 (2015), T6 (2016) Patrick Rodgers 2/3 1 T10 (2017) T10 (2017) Graeme McDowell 1/3 1 3 (2016) 3 (2016) Jon Curran 3/4 1 4 (2016) 4 (2016) Charles Howell III 7/8 3 T9 (2016) T6 (2010), T7 (2012) Chad Campbell 6/8 2 T9 (2016) T7 (2012) David Hearn 5/5 1 T9 (2016) T9 (2016) Lucas Glover 5/6 1 T9 (2016) T9 (2016) Scott Stallings 4/5 1 T9 (2016) T9 (2016) John Huh 4/4 1 T9 (2016) T9 (2016) Tom Hoge 3/4 1 T9 (2016) T9 (2016) Will MacKenzie 3/3 1 T2 (2015) T2 (2015) Brendon de Jonge 7/8 2 T2 (2015) T4 (2012) Fabian Gomez 4/4 1 T8 (2015) T8 (2015) Scott Brown 3/5 1 T4 (2014) T4 (2014) Webb Simpson 6/6 2 T7 (2014) 2 (2011) Matt Every 2/5 1 T7 (2014) T7 (2014) Tommy Gainey 2/7 1 Win (2012) Win (2012) Davis Love III 4/4 1 T4 (2012) T4 (2012) Michael Thompson 5/6 2 T10 (2012) 3 (2011) Ben Crane 3/6 1 Win (2011) Win (2011) Kevin Streelman 3/4 1 T6 (2011) T6 (2011) Bill Haas 4/5 1 2 (2010) 2 (2010)