Even though The RSM Classic is just the eighth tournament of the season, it signifies the conclusion of a long year of PGA TOUR action. So, it's no doubt welcoming that neither course at Sea Island Resort is a grind.
The Seaside Course is a par 70 at just 7,005 yards. In its seventh edition as host, it averaged a tournament-low 68.889 a year ago. The Plantation Course measures 7,058 yards, yet it's a stock par 72. Its scoring average of 69.763 was more than one stroke lower than its debut in 2015. The 36-hole cut fell at 5-under last year.
More on both tracks, the format and expectations beneath the ranking.
POWER RANKINGS: THE RSM CLASSIC
Rank player comment 1 Webb Simpson 2 Kevin Kisner 3 Charles Howell III 4 Chesson Hadley 5 Brian Harman 6 Bill Haas 7 Ollie Schniederjans 8 Scott Brown 9 Jamie Lovemark 10 Patton Kizzire 11 Patrick Rodgers 12 Kevin Streelman 13 Matt Kuchar 14 William McGirt 15 J.J. Spaun
Defending champion Mac Hughes, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson will be among the notables in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
For everyone who has worked as a course maintenance staffer in the Southeast, the last couple of years have tested that passion. Last year, Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew blew through the Golden Isles in the months leading up to The RSM Classic. This year, it was Hurricane Irma. But once again, after five dozen trees were removed and recovery from the storm surge was complete, both Seaside and Plantation are ready.
As it pertains to the competition, preparation to challenge the field of 156 demands consistency since every golfer gets one round on the Plantation Course before the cut falls. Half the field will open on the co-host, while the other half will take its turn in the second round. Only Seaside hosts the final two rounds.
Bermudagrass greens will be receptive, so splitting fairways won't be as much of a prerequisite as a coincidence on the shorter courses. As with any shootout, hitting greens in regulation and converting on those opportunities is key. Mac Hughes ranked T50 in GIR en route to victory last year, but he still averaged 13 per round. Of the five in the playoff from which he emerged, the Canadian authored the strongest short game. (Only Seaside is lasered for ShotLink purposes.)
A primary motivation to introduce Plantation two years ago was so that all of the Web.com Tour graduates could plan on making the trip. That's pivotal because the first reshuffle of 2017-18 will occur after the conclusion of the tournament. Once the calendar turns over in January, playing time for the guys near the bottom of the category will be reduced until fields expand to 156 in the second half of April.
Mother Nature will walk off official competition in 2017 with primarily cloudless skies and a drop-off in the daytime high temperature. After peaking in the mid-70s on Saturday, it'll be some 10 degrees cooler for the finale. Wind is almost always a variable along the coast, but it's proven not to be as much of a challenge as other destinations.
ROB BOLTON’S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.