The final event on the regular schedule for 2021. Yes, from now until the Tournament of Champions in early January there is nothing but Tiger Woods’ Hero Challenge get-together for the elite and plenty of rest for everyone else. In one sense, the recuperative aspect kicks in this week because the host venue, the Sea Island Resort in Georgia, is well-known to plenty of the field either as a spot where they own property, where they vacation, or maybe they just always enjoy this relaxed stop towards the end of the calendar year. It’s been on the schedule since 2010 and has gone down well with the players and spectators.
Sea Island Resort (Seaside and Plantation Courses)
Although Sea Island is a resort which caters to everything the modern golfing family might expect, the two layouts used this week have a considerable amount of heritage behind them. The Seaside Course is the official host, being used once before the cut and then all weekend. It was designed and opened shortly after the First World War by Harry Colt and his associate C.H. Alison, with a modern upgrade in the late 1990s by the go-to-man for such jobs Tom Fazio. It’s a touch over 7,000 yards and plays to a par of 70.
The Plantation Course is used just the once pre-cut and the reasons are simple. With limited daylight it makes sense to utilise the full facilities at the resort to allow a full field of 156 to compete. It was introduced to the event in 2015, was three years ago renovated by Davis Love III (a Sea Island resident), and it is a par-72 at, again, just over 7,000 yards.
Plantation plays a little easier than Seaside, with the latter more exposed to the ocean to therefore it pays to keep an eye on the weather forecast. As we’ll see, this is a venue that suits fellows who can steer their ball through tricky breezes. Plantation is rather more protected by trees.
We’ve got plenty of player comments to dig into, some a little contradictory, although perhaps they reveal how golfers tackle different tasks. Cameron Champ has said: “Length on this course is irrelevant.” He then added: “I’m trying to find fairways, the middle of green and then take my 20-footers.” A somewhat conservative approach, in contrast to Vaughn Taylor who argues: “You’ve got a lot of wedges and short irons, so immediately you get aggressive.” Perhaps the contrast comes from Champ feeling hemmed in from the tee. Past winner Austin Cook says: “Straight ball-striking helps above distance.”
As hinted, the weather is key. Brendon Todd has said: “It relies on the weather, the conditions, the wind to be the teeth. Anybody could play a great round out there, whether you hit it long or short. It comes down to who approaches it well and makes putts.”
And former winner Mackenzie Hughes added: “The Seaside Course kind of has some bigger fairways when there’s not any wind blowing, but when the wind’s blowing, you’ve got those crosswinds going, the fairways seem kind of small.”
The weather forecast for Sea Island, Georgia is clearly going to matter and we’ve got some good news. We wouldn’t want a calm week would we? Seaside courses are designed with wind in mind so it needs it in order to be a challenge and we should see enough. Thursday might be flat, but Friday will be around 20mph (maybe look at tee times and favour golfers on Plantation in round two? This could be a week to add your roster late Wednesday). At the weekend the wind will be around 17mph on Saturday and drop to about 12mph on Sunday. It will be cloudy all week with temperatures hovering around 60 so a little chilly in that wind.
Past Champions of The RSM Classic
The first thing you note when looking at past results is not that there have been 11 champions, but that 10 men have also missed out in extra holes. This is a tournament with a really quite bizarre trend for play-offs (in 2016 there was a five-man shootout after regulation holes).
It is also an event – and a pair of courses – that suits specialists. On the one hand, you have two-time winner (and this year’s defending champion) Robert Streb. He defeated Kevin Kisner in a play-off last year and Kisner lifted the trophy in 2015. Webb Simpson has twice been defeated in extra holes.
The other element of specialism is that Heath Slocum was the first winner in 2010, Ben Crane succeeded him, Chris Kirk prevailed in 2013, Mackenzie Hughes in 2016, Austin Cook in 2017 and Charles Howell III in 2018. These are golfers who like tight courses, short courses, windy courses and courses with Bermuda grass greens. They also thrive at the likes of Waialae, El Camaleon, Southwind and Harbour Town.
There have been some surprises, too. Tommy Gainey in 2012, Streb on both occasions, Cook in 2017 and Tyler Duncan in 2019. It’s a good opportunity for nuggety journeymen and fresh arrivals from the Korn Ferry Tour.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|B list||K. Kisner||$9,200|
|B list||C. Kirk||$8,000|
|C list||D. McCarthy||$7,000|
|C list||J.J. Spaun||$6,700|
Webb Simpson ($10,700) Yes, he’s a big salary but this is a course and a tournament that is right in his sweet spot. He’s made eight completed starts, always made the cut, has five top 20s and twice lost in a play-off. The one year he withdrew, he was on course for another top 20. Consider also his form at similar tracks. At Harbour Town he has eight top 20s from 12 starts and hasn’t missed the cut since his debut. At Waialae he’s missed one cut in 11 appearances with eight top 20s. He likes short tests that need a solid tee-to-green test, blustery wind and grainy greens.
Kevin Kisner ($9,200) When Kisner doesn’t like a track he lets folk know. He’s on record that he has a handful of courses where he can compete from the tee. And when that is the case he is practised in making the most of the opportunity and this week is one of them. He’s 7-for-10 at making the weekend here and when he does he cashed in: all seven were top 30s, five of them (all in his last seven starts) were T–7 or better including a win and a play-off defeat last year. A winner at Sedgefield, the last time a course was a neat fit, in August.
Chris Kirk ($8,000) Another course specialist who just loves this sort of test. He’s 8-for-11 at the tournament, he won in 2013, has twice been fourth and has added another three top 20s. In 2021 his best golf has been on tracks which in one way or another share similarities with this week’s test: when second at Waialae, T–8 at Bay Hill, T–6 at TPC San Antonio, T–7 at Harbour Town. He opened with a 64 last time out when ultimately T–64 at El Camaleon, a seventh straight cut made.
Denny McCarthy ($7,000) We regularly discuss on this page how much McCarthy likes putting on grainy Bermuda greens so they won’t bother him this week. Where does he finish in the top 20? At Corales Puntacana, TPC Southwind, Jackson, Innisbrook, Port Royal, Harbour Town, Sedgefield, here and El Camaleon two weeks ago (he was also top 20 last week in Houston). In all, 18 of his 21 top 20s on the PGA Tour came on Bermuda grass, often in blustery conditions.
J.J. Spaun ($6,700) He’s made four cuts in five career starts at the course and was tied second in 2017. And, since regaining his card with another tied second at the Boise Open in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, he’s made five cuts on the bounce, including T–7 in Bermuda and T–27 at El Camaleon when top five through 54 holes.
Talor Gooch ($9,300) Started the 2021/22 season on fire with four finishes of T–11 or better and then tied for the lead last week in Houston (although he then shot 74-75-72 to labor home for T–60). A big salary for a guy who was over-performing on Bermuda greens, might be tired, and has a poor event record (1-for-4, a best of T–23).
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Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For The RSM Classic
|B list||R. Henley||$9,600|
|B list||C. Howell III||$7,800|
|C list||L. List||$7,500|
|C list||M. Thompson||$6,700|
Cameron Smith ($10,300) We’ve got no course form to look back on when assessing the Aussie, but comparative courses paint a promising picture. He’s 5-for-6 at Waialae and also won there in 2020. He’s also 4-for-6 at Harbour Town including a top 10 there this year. He’s finished top 35 in each of his last nine starts, six of them top 20s, which included T–5 at TPC Southwind which reads well for this week.
Russell Henley ($9,600) It may be intriguing that, at least initially, the bookmakers were less keen on Henley than DFS. But even with a fairly big salary he is worth having on-side. His best golf this year? T–11 at Waialae, T–3 at PGA National, T–7 at Sedgefield and T–7 last week in Houston. It’s all good form for this week’s examination. He’s 5-for-7 on the course with three top 10s and last year he was T–30.
Charles Howell III ($7,800) Another fellow that this column is a fan of, but not indiscriminately. Rather, we know that there are times to buy him – and others not to. This is a buying week. He’s 8-for-11 at Sea Island with five top 20s and victory in 2018. And he’s just plays this type of golf very well. He’s 18-for-20 at Waialae (14 top 20s) and 11-for-13 at El Camaleon (eight top 20s).
Luke List ($7,500) List made a nice start, stepped backwards, and then revived to add some nice progress through the field late last week before picking up T–11. To that we can add T–7 at the Zozo Championship and T–17 in the Sanderson Farms Championship in a neat start to the new campaign. He’s made three cuts in five course appearances, rebounding from a slow start to grab T–13 in 2016 and adding tied fourth in 2018.
Michael Thompson ($6,700) Another player who enjoys a distinct test. On the course he is 6-for-8 with four top 20s making him good value. His career is peppered with top 20s by the sea, when the call is for solid ball-striking – at Puerto Rico, Waialae, Innisbrook, Harbour Town, Southwind and Sedgefield. He’s also a past winner at PGA National in the Honda Classic.
Stewart Cink ($6,900) I count myself a big Stewart Cink fan and back in the spring he did us a huge favor with a small salary victory at Harbour Town. His superb form there ought to hint at a liking for Sea Island, but for whatever reason he has never clicked here. One finish better than T–25 (and that T–10) is not really all that. He’s still chugging along, but hasn’t made a top 20 since that win.
I won’t stray from the obvious. This place calls for an accurate tee-to-green game, one that won’t be fazed by the wind blowing, and will call on a decent putting game when faced with grainy greens. Beyond course form I will look to Waialae, Southwind, El Camaleon and Harbour Town. Maybe Innisbrook and Port Royal, too.
Other Player Options For The RSM Classic
• Bronson Burgoon has problems at Sea Island for a while. Three missed cuts and T–70 was a poor return in his first four visits. But he was T–15 last year.
• Harris English should be a great fit here. He’s a winner at TPC Southwind and El Camaleon, but had just four top 30s in nine starts. That potential has to be weighed against a big salary.
• Can Mackenzie Hughes revive his Sea Island spirit? He won on debut but since then has gone MC, MC, T–65, MC.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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