Horses for Courses: The RSM Classic
November 19, 2019
By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
The RSM Classic preview
It's almost Christmas Party season and the TOUR will have their annual pre-holiday get-together on lovely Sea Island to wrap up the first half of the schedule.
The par-70 Seaside Course (7,005 yards) was the original host but Plantation was added to the rotation for the 2015 edition won by Kevin Kisner. Seaside's large TifEagle Bermuda greens will provide the challenge this week, if the wind stays down, as the pros are rarely bothered by two inches of rough.
The par-72 Plantation Course (7,060 yards) was just completely renovated and redesigned by tournament host Davis Love III and his brother Mark. I wouldn't expect it to play as easy as it has in the past, which is normal in year one after changes, but that yardage shouldn't bother many, if any.
The final regular season event of calendar 2019 will have 156 players casually knocking it around the Seaside (host) and Plantation (Thursday/Friday only) courses for one final chance to become exempt for the rest of this season and the next two. Toss in $1.188 million, (500 FedExCup points) to the winner and it's not a bad White Elephant gift!
The 10th edition at such a popular place to live for the pros would suggest course form is important this week. While I'm not arguing, I'll point out there have been no repeat or multiple winners during this run. Gamers will remember that's hardly a surprise in events when tons of birdies and scores in the 60s are required annually to compete.
While the residents of Sea Island should have the most reps, don't forget that when these guys go "home" during the season for a few weeks they aren't out grinding or playing. They're usually resting or spending time with family. The recent winners below will point out some interesting trends for use this week.
2018: Charles Howell III (-19, 263)
Sea Island resident broke a four-year streak of first-time winners at The RSM Classic. ... Defeated Patrick Rodgers in a two-hole playoff. ... Led after 18, 36 and 54 holes. ... 36-hole lead of three is largest in tournament history and was bogey-free. ... Becomes fifth 54-hole leader of the last six to close the deal. ... Led the field in GIR and posted sixth in Putting: Birdie-or-Better percentage.
Notables: Rodgers closed 61-62 to set the TOUR record for the final two rounds. ... Rodgers led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting and birdies with 26. ... Top 45 players were 10-under or lower. ... Webb Simpson led the field Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, closed 63-65 for solo third. Luke List matched Simpson's weekend but was T4. ... Nick Watney (64) posted the lowest round of the week at Plantation.
2017: Austin Cook (-21, 261)
Missed Kisner's winning total by a shot as he won by four. ... Put on a clinic as he was T4 fairways, T2 GIR and T1 scrambling. ... Tied the 36-hole record (-14) while setting the 54-hole record (-18). ... Led the field with 23 birdies against only two bogeys (no others). ... First TOUR win in 14th start. ... First time at the event. ... Fifth first-time winner in eight at The RSM Classic.
Notables: 2014 champ Chris Kirk (T4) played in the final group and set the Plantation course record (63) in Round 1. ... J.J. Spaun (2nd) and Cook shared the low round of the week at Seaside with 62. ... Brian Gay (3rd) opened 65-64 and was one of 11 players to post all four rounds in the 60s. ... Kevin Streelman (T17) posted one bogey over 72 holes.
2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17, 265)
Opened with 61 on Seaside and never looked back. ... Led after every round, except the last, as he won a five-man playoff on Monday. ... First TOUR victory in his ninth start. ... First attempt at The RSM Classic. ... Led the field Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and birdies (23), second in Putting: Birdie-or-Better percentage and third in scrambling. ... Made a triple (!) in Round 3 and still won.
Notables: Billy Horschel (P2) and Henrik Norlander (P2) are in the field again this year. ... Jim Furyk (T6) and Patrick Rodgers (T10) are also competing this week. ... Cut was 5 under. ... Resident Jonathan Byrd (T21) and Stewart Cink (T10) signed for 62 at Seaside.
Key stat leaders
Top golfers in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. The RSM Classic does NOT use laser measurements on the Plantation course.
* - previous top 10 finish here
Greens in Regulation
5 *Jason Dufner
7 *Charles Howell III
8 Josh Teater
12 Talor Gooch
12 Shawn Stefani
14 Martin Laird
15 *Kevin Streelman
17 Cameron Tringale
18 Brice Garnett
20 *Matt Kuchar
23 Jhonattan Vegas
24 *Jim Furyk
25 Hank Lebioda
26 Russell Knox
Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage
6 Denny McCarthy
7 Aaron Wise
11 Si Woo Kim
14 Dominic Bozzelli
20 Troy Merritt
21 Sepp Straka
23 *Vaughn Taylor
2 Adam Schenk
3 *Vaughn Taylor
4 Rory Sabbatini
5 *Charles Howell III
8 *Billy Horschel
8 Nick Taylor
12 Joel Dahmen
12 *Kevin Kisner
12 J.T. Poston
19 *Webb Simpson
19 *Matt Kuchar
19 Brian Stuard
22 *Harris English
26 Brice Garnett
26 Matt Jones
26 Denny McCarthy
Kevin Kisner: The inaugural champ when Plantation was added, Kisner is 53 under the last four years with a MC. His top 10s include the last two years plus T4 the final time Seaside was the exclusive track.
Charles Howell III: His win last season was his fourth top-10 payoff in nine starts. I'd say he's comfortable on this layout.
Webb Simpson: If a fantastic short game is one of the keys, he'll be involved. Lost a playoff in 2011 and was third last year.
Zach Johnson: I used to believe this was his come-down event from a long season but the last two years he's popped into the top 10 and is 28 under. This might be his new John Deere Classic as he gets older!
Patrick Rodgers: As noted above, he's found his happy spot here with P2 and T10 in two of his last three attempts.
Russell Henley: One of the many Georgia Bulldogs to find top-10 successes on the Golden Isles, Henley has cashed three times in the big bucks in five tries.
Brian Harman: Picked up his second top-10 check with T4 two years ago but has posted 66 or better in four of his last six rounds.
Chris Kirk: Course record holder at Plantation has T4, T4 and WIN in three of his last six.
Matt Kuchar: Never worse than T29 but only one top 10 (T7, 2014) as he'll make his eighth start.
Billy Horschel: Lost in a playoff to Hughes in 2016 yet didn't play the last two seasons.