DFS preview and picks for the RSM Classic
Course: Sea Island – Seaside Course/Plantation Course (Saint Simons Island, Georgia)
Yardage: (Seaside Course) 7,005 – Par 70 / (Plantation Course) 7,058 – Par 72
Purse : $6.4 M
Field: 156 Players
Recent RSM Classic Winners
Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch!!! It’s been four and a half years since Matt Kuchar won his last PGA Tour event and at the age of 40 this win meant a lot to him. The now eight-time PGA Tour winner used to be a lock for a win each year, but coming into this tournament had found himself winless since the RBC Heritage in April of 2014. Kuchar opened the tournament with rounds of 64, 64 and 65. With the pressure mounting, the final round didn’t come as easily to him, as he had to grind out a two-under 69, and make a long two-putt on the final hole to hold off Danny Lee by a single stroke.
The Tour heads to Saint Simons Island, Georgia, for the final official event of the 2018 calendar year, the RSM Classic. Formerly known as the McGladrey Classic until 2015, the RSM Classic will be the only tournament left in 2018 where FedEx Cup points are given. Tiger Wood’s Hero World Challenge in two weeks is an unofficial PGA event, although World Ranking points are given.
This week at the RSM we have just one single player from the world’s Top 25 and that would be Webb Simpson (no. 20). After that it’s a mix of your lower-mid tier Tour regulars comprised of some young up-and-comers like Joaquin Niemann, Sung Jae Im, Cameron Champ, Austin Cook, Anders Albertson and a handful of golfers with solid golfing careers that haven’t done too much lately like Kevin Kisner, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Padraig Harrington, Charles Howell III and Graeme McDowell. Believe it or not there’s 15 majors shared between that group, (Kisner and Howell III have none) but unfortunately most of those players are well past their major-winning days. It’s safe to say that this week’s field strength isn’t exactly cutthroat. It’ll be a great chance for the grinders on Tour to find a win and punch a ticket to the Masters as well as all of the other perks that come with winning on Tour.
Sea Island Golf Club is a short Par 70 layout that measures out to just over 7,000 yards. Located along the coast of Southeastern Georgia, Sea Island plays like a links-style course, and has Bermuda grass greens. The tournament expanded to being played on two courses in 2010, so one of the four rounds is played on the Plantation Course, a par 72 layout measuring 7,058 yards. Both courses can be very scorable if the wind and weather remains in check, although being coastal means high winds are always possible. A weather check before the tournament begins could always be useful, especially if it looks like the wind will only affect players starting at certain times. Sea Island is a place where short-hitters can keep up with the long-hitters off the tee because a lot of shots off the tee call for irons and fairway woods. Look for players who excel in strokes gained: off-the-tee and I wouldn’t put much stock into driving distance this week. Many shots off the tee call for local knowledge as to where to place the ball, so driving accuracy can also be a key component to success this week. Par 4 scoring will be a big factor as it always is on Par 70 courses; players will be playing six more Par 4s than they would have if they were playing a Par 72 for four days. Sea Island’s greens are sloped pretty severely, so you want players who can find the proper side of the green to land on (strokes gained: approach) with position on the green (or near it) being a lot more valuable than simply hitting every green in regulation. I mentioned that local knowledge was important here: try and find players who have had success here in the past (pre-2015 the event was the McGladrey Classic).
2018 RSM Classic DFS Picks
Cameron Champ ($10,900) Simply the hottest golfer right now, Champ has made all four cuts this season with no finish worse than T28, and a victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship to boot. In a decent field last week at the Mayakoba Classic, the budding PGA Tour rookie earned his second Top 10 finish of the 2017-18 in four starts. Champ currently leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and also ranks inside the Top 25 in both Par 4 scoring and driving accuracy. In one of the weakest fields we’ll ever see in DFS, the safest play is to go with the hottest stick. Cameron Champ is that player right now.
Zach Johnson ($9,000) I’m going to go with a pair of those major winners that I listed earlier and at age 42, Zach Johnson is the younger and pricier of the two. Although, he didn’t win last season, Johnson stayed a solid fixture on Tour, making cuts and Top 30s at nearly every event he entered. At a course like Sea Island, Johnson should be able to use his accuracy to his advantage and if he can get that deadly wedge in his hands on these shorter courses, he’ll have a good chance at replicating or bettering his finish of T8 at the RSM last year.
Jim Furyk ($8,200) It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Jim Furyk in the DFS Golf world or even just the regular golf world. Furyk doesn’t play as much these days, but when he does he can still get results with his consistent ball striking and a great short game. Furyk teed it up last week at the Mayakoba Classic for his second event of the year and finished T6. The 48-year old may just be due for a victory lap before taking his talents to the Champions Tour when he turns 50. Furyk is currently second on Tour in driving accuracy, 18th in Par 4 scoring, and is coming off a week at the Mayakoba where he ranked second in greens hit. Furyk also finished T6 the last time he played in this event in 2016 finishing just three shots behind winner Mackenzie Hughes.
Brice Garnett ($7,600) Brice Garnett’s trajectory hasn’t always been upward since he joined the Tour in 2014. After having to qualify for the Web.Com Tour in 2017, he seems to be back on an upward trajectory since regaining his PGA Tour status last season. Garnett gained his first ever PGA Tour victory at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship and finished 61st in the FedEx Standings last year, just one tournament shy of the Tour Championship. He’s off to a smoking start statistically this year and turned those solid stats into a T5 last week at the Mayakoba. Garnett ranks seventh in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 35th in Par 4 scoring, and 12th in driving accuracy.
Anders Albertson ($7,300) Anders Albertson earned his way to the PGA Tour this year as one of the Top money leaders on the Web.Com Tour last season. He’s made three of his first four cuts on Tour including a T5 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Albertson has been above-average this year in all four of this week’s key stats including 13th in strokes gained: approach. He should make for a good value play this week, as he’s shown solid accuracy with both the driver and irons early on this year.
Ted Potter Jr. ($6,900) For $6,900, in this soft field, you’re getting a player who was able to beat out a good chunk of the world’s best just nine months ago at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Although, this isn’t Pebble Beach, Sea Island is similar in its coastal nature, and the two courses are similarly distanced while putting a premium on accuracy off-the-tee. Ted Potter Jr. is built for these shorter, marksman-type of courses. Potter currently ranks sixth in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and while he’s never been great in the approach game—he’s been abnormally bad this year in that department—he still has managed to churn out some decent results. He should be able to improve his iron play this week as he’s currently losing almost an entire shot more than he did last year. A bad few rounds can skew these early-season statistics heavily, so I’m not too worried about the early-season shakiness. This should be a course that fits his eye well and could turn his poor iron play around.