The RSM Classic represents the final official tournament of the year for the PGA TOUR. The fall swing is technically part of the 2022-2023 season, so all the FedEx Cup points gained here will flow into next year.
The event itself will be played at two courses due to the fading daylight, and it features a full 156-player field. Only six of the worlds top-50 golfers are in attendance, with last year’s winner and world No. 12 ranked Tony Finau leading the betting odds at +900 on DraftKings Sportsbook. He’s followed closely by world No. 26 Brian Harman at +1800 and world No. 36 Tom Hoge at +2000.
Even with two courses in play, this week will feature the regular PGA TOUR cutline which means only the top-65 and ties will play after Friday.
Seaside Course, Sea Island, Georgia: Par 70, 7,055 yards
Plantation Course (Thursday/Friday only): Par 72, 7,058 yards
The tournament will once again feature two different courses. On Thursday and Friday, players will play the Seaside (the host course) and the Plantation course once each, and then the weekend players will play Saturday and Sunday on the Seaside Course only. The dual courses in play at this event always add an extra element to this event, as the weather draw can often play a factor in how the courses play on the different days. The Plantation Course carries four par 5s (compared to only two for the Seaside course) and is generally much less wind-exposed, meaning it has the potential to play up to two shots easier than the host course. Last year, we saw Sebastian Munoz open with a 60 on this easier venue which gives you an idea of the kind of scoring available at this course. The Seaside course isn’t exactly tough either as both of its par 5s will measure in under 570 yards in length, with eight to nine of the par 4s landing between 400-450 yards.
The Plantation Course typically plays as one of the easiest on the PGA TOUR and yielded a -1.561 stroke average in 2020, while the Seaside course played as the 16th-easiest at -1.1 strokes under par for the same year. Knowing which days your players will be on which course is important, and I’d suggest using the weather forecast to help you make decisions. Getting players with less breezy days on the Seaside course could be crucial to success.
The courses themselves are shorter in nature, and generally, favor players who rely on accuracy over power. Both are positioned near the sea and feature TifEagle Bermuda greens, although it’s only the Seaside Course that is directly exposed to the sea with its links-style setup. Many players who have had success at this event have also had success at other short seaside courses, like Hilton Head, Sedgefield and Waialae Country Club, which also feature Bermuda grass and shorter yardage. Two of the last three winners here have done so with proficient weeks on approach, and last season, Talor Gooch won by multiple strokes at Sea Island after gaining 6.3 strokes on approach for the week. Gooch paired that win with some terrific putting, and it’s worth noting that each of the past four winners have gained over 3.0 strokes or more on the greens.
This is a short track, so there will be lots of birdie chances but players will also need to handle themselves well around these tricky green structures. Emphasize Bermuda putting specialists with great short iron proximity stats this week when possible.
2022 Weather Update: The weather this week will be much cooler than normal. Highs on the first two days will hover around 55-60 degrees with morning lows in the mid 40s. This should make the course play a little longer than usual and likely make this week a little more of a grind than usual as well. Luckily for the players there’s no rain in the forecast until Sunday when we could get an early morning shower or two. The winds are what to watch for on the first two days and right now it’s looking like Friday afternoon might be the windiest wave with gusts dying down throughout the day and sunny skies forming after some morning clouds. With Thursday having 10-12 mph winds on tap for the entire day, targeting the TH-AM/FRI-PM wave could yield positive splits this week.
Last 5 winners
2021—Talor Gooch -22 (over Mackenzie Hughes)
2020—Robert Streb -19 (over Kevin Kisner -18 playoff)
2019—Tyler Duncan -19 (over Webb Simpson playoff)
2018—Charles Howell III -19 (over Patrick Rodgers playoff)
2017—Austin Cook -21 (over J.J. Spaun -17)
– Six of the last 12 winners had achieved a T5 or better result at either the RBC Heritage (Hilton Head) or the Sony Open (Waialae Country Club) at some point in their career before their win at The RSM.
– Four of the last six winners had recorded a T6 or better in one of their last eight starts on the PGA TOUR before winning here.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Talor Gooch (22-under-par)
(2021 lead-in: 60/11/5/11/4)
SG: OTT— -0.5
SG: APP— +6.3
SG: TTG— +8.6
SG: ATG— +2.9
SG: PUTT— +5.0
**we only have three measured rounds at the Seaside course to go off for data
- Gooch had one of the more dominant wins we’ve seen at this event over the past decade. He gained multiple strokes on APP, ATG and PUTT allowing him to cruise down the stretch to a three-shot win.
- In 2020, Robert Streb did most of his damage with his putter, and we have seen several winners get uber hot on these greens before, with 2016 winner Mackenzie Hughes gaining +6.2 strokes putting during the week of his win while actually losing strokes on his approach. Looking at putting percentages from 15 feet and out this week is something to consider as we see a lot of putts made from longer distances at this event.
- Good approach play certainly sets a player up for success though, and in 2020 each of the top-9 players all gained strokes on approach for the week.
- Driving distance is essentially a non-factor, but good scrambling is needed as these greens tend to be tougher than the average PGA TOUR stop and scrambling rates tend to be lower than the PGA TOUR average at this venue, overall.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Webb Simpson ($8,400; best finish: second-2019, second-2011, third- 2018): Simpson has a long history of playing well at this event, stretching all the way back to 2010. He finished solo third here in 2018, lost in a playoff in 2020 and was T8 at this venue last year. The venue plays to his strengths and even with his form currently lagging, he’s still a threat to challenge in 2022.
2. Kevin Kisner ($9,300; best finish: win-2015, 2nd-2021): Kisner won this event back in 2015, his first win on the PGA TOUR, and has finished T20 or better at this event/venue six times in his last eight visits —including a playoff loss in 2021. Kisner is a master of the shorter technical tracks and shouldn’t be overlooked despite his lack of play this fall.
3. Keith Mitchell ($9,300; best finish: T12-2022, T14-2020): Mitchell has shown good upside at this venue, posting made cuts in four of his last five appearances at Sea Island. Two of his last three starts at this event have yielded top-15 finishes as well and he’s gained strokes on approach in all five of his career RSM Classic starts.
4. Zach Johnson ($6,900; best finish: T6-2020, T7-2018): Like the other players in this section, Johnson loves playing this venue and always seems to show up with solid results at this event. He’s finished top 20 at this venue four times over the last four years and certainly deserves some respect for DFS this week, even coming off a bad stretch of play.
5. John Huh ($6,900; best finish: T12-2021, 2020) Huh ranks out a surprising sixth in strokes gained total stats at this venue over the last five years. The American is a short hitter and has done his best work at comparable venues like Hilton Head and El Chameleon. His sub-7k salary makes him a worthwhile consideration in GPPs this week.
Editor’s Note: Tony Finau has withdrawn from The RSM Classic.
1. Tony Finau ($11,200; win-MC): He posted a dominant win last week where he gained over 7.0 strokes putting. He finished T14 at this venue back in 2014 and looks ready to dominate the 2022-2023 season.
2. Joel Dahmen ($9,200; T9-T3): Dahmen has had a great fall posting four top-16 finishes and gaining over 3.0 strokes in four of five starts. His putter has held him back, but he’s playing well enough to contend and win on a shorter venue like Sea Island.
3. Jason Day ($9,400; T16-T21): Day continued his comeback with a T16 finish last week in Houston. The Aussie started slow but posted rounds of 69-68 on the weekend. He finished T12 at this event in 2020 and has gained strokes on approach in all but one event this fall.
4. Alex Smalley ($7,900; T4-T11): Smalley had a great finish to his week in Houston landing a 67 on Sunday which vaulted him to a top-5 finish. The American has now finished T25 or better in three of his last four starts.
5. Andrew Putnam ($7,900; T35-T48): Putnam has been all over the leader boards this fall and comes into this event having made 14 cuts in a row on the PGA TOUR. He ranks top 10 in strokes gained putting and around the green stats and sets up extremely well for this week’s venue.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: NeSmith and Hughes solid values
Both Matthew NeSmith ($9,000) and Mackenzie Hughes ($8,600) have had terrific falls with Hughes posting a win at the Sanderson Farms. Both men have more than solid course histories to fall back on this week, as well, with Hughes having grabbed a win at this event in 2016 and a runner-up finish last season. Starting lineups with both men gives you a lot of options in terms of roster construction as you can go very balanced — and add in some course history beasts like Kevin Kisner ($8,300) in the 8k range — or start with another 9k player like Jason Day ($9,400). Other potential targets for this format include Nick Hardy ($7,600) and Scott Piercy ($6,900).
Tournaments: Hoge and Rai nice GPP targets
For GPPs this week, it’s likely not a bad idea to fade the 10k-range on DraftKings when building, just given the lack of elite talent in this field. Tom Hoge ($9,800), who won earlier in 2022 at Pebble Beach, is a player who has shown us that he can get it done at these kinds of seaside venues, where elite iron play tends to shine through. His fall has already yielded four top-15 finishes in five starts and he’s already landed two top-10 finishes at Sea Island in his career. Pairing him with a player like Aaron Rai ($7,800) gives you a solid starting base as well. Rai finished top 20 at this venue last year and gained 7.0 strokes on approach earlier in the fall at the Shriners. Coming off a solid week in Houston (where he showed an elite short game) Rai’s the kind of player who could thrive in the colder conditions on tap for 2022. Other potential targets for this week include Henrik Norlander ($6,800), Ryan Moore ($6,800) and Sean O’Hair ($6,500).
MY PICK: Matthew NeSmith ($9,000)
Matthew NeSmith comes in with a lot of the same trends that Talor Gooch did when he grabbed his first win at this event last season. The 28-year-old has played a lot of events this fall (five in total) and showed solid conviction posting three top-10 finishes at three very different venues in Jackson CC, Narashino Golf Club and TPC Summerlin. NeSmith’s game has remained steady throughout the fall. His confident putting has allowed his great iron play to shine through and keep him in the mix on the weekend.
While he regressed to a T53 finish last week, his Houston start did come after a couple of weeks off and he still showed positive gains in the approach department for the week. The American is seventh in long term form in SG: Approach stats and 15th in proximity from 150-175 yards (what is typically the most popular distance the players will face with their irons this week). Three career starts at Sea Island have also yielded three top-30 finishes for NeSmith, and it’s encouraging that he has gained strokes putting in all three of those starts. His price has moved upwards this week, but this is a venue that has catered to first time winners and which should allow the strengths of his game to shine through. He’s a solid core target this week in DFS and a nice outright target at +3000 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
MY SLEEPER: Sean O’Hair ($6,500)
O’Hair was a solid T11 at the Bermuda Championship the last time we saw him and it was only a late double bogey that pushed him out of a top 10 or even top-5 spot that week. The veteran showcased a confident putter and some solid ball-striking in Bermuda ranking sixth in driving accuracy and 12th in greens in regulation percentage for the week. As a player without status on the PGA TOUR, he needs to make the most of every start he gets and should find this setup at the RSM quite appealing given that he won’t be hugely disadvantaged off the tee.
Over his career, O’Hair has handled these kinds of venues quite well. He finished in second place at the Sony Open way back in 2012. He has three career top-20 finishes at Sea Island in seven career starts. Considering his recent form and experience, O’Hair’s chances of landing a top 20 are likely better than his salary indicates. He’s hit that mark in three of seven career appearances at this venue and has now finished inside the top 20 in four of his last 10 PGA TOUR starts. For DFS purposes, that makes him a solid target for stars and scrubs lineups, and on the DraftKings Sportsbook his +750 top 20 odds also make him a solid play in that market.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.