After an exciting visit to Augusta National for the third and final major championship of the year, the PGA TOUR has two more events scheduled for 2020. This week the TOUR will travel just a few hours from Augusta to Sea Island, Ga., for the RSM Classic, which is held each fall around this time. The PGA TOUR will take a week off for Thanksgiving and then return for the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico the following week. Even though Sea Island isn’t Augusta, it’s a great chance to get another fun week of DraftKings fantasy golf in before the holiday break, so be sure to get your lineups prepped and ready.
The field is a massive step down from The Masters, no doubt, but there are still plenty of recognizable names teeing it up. The field will include 19 of the world’s top 50 golfers, led by Webb Simpson ($11,200), who has a great history here. Sungjae Im ($11,000) will tee it up after finishing runner-up last week at The Masters. Tommy Fleetwood ($10,700), Tyrrell Hatton ($10,400) and Russell Henley ($10,100) are the other players with six-figure salaries in the field this week. Last year, Tyler Duncan ($7,000) bested Simpson in a playoff while Sebastian Munoz ($9,000), Brendon Todd ($7,800),
Henrik Norlander ($7,100) and Kyoung-Hoon Lee ($6,200) also finished in the top five.
Editor’s Note: Henrik Norlander and Kramer Hickok have tested positive for COVID-19 and have withdrawn from The RSM Classic.
The RSM Classic has a unique format using two courses for the first two rounds with each player playing 18 holes on the Plantation Course and 18 holes on the Seaside Course. After the cut, the final two rounds are played on the Seaside Course, so that should be the focus for course metrics. The Plantation Course is a par 72 and was designed by Davis Love III and his younger brother and caddie, Mark. The Seaside Course is a par 70 Tom Fazio re-design of a course originally built in 1929.
Five of the past six champions have been first-time winners and there are typically high levels of drama with eight of the 10 tournaments resulting in either a playoff or a one-stroke win.
Since the field will play three rounds on Seaside, let’s take a closer look at what to expect on that track. The layout is an ocean-side links course, surrounded by sweeping dunes mixed with native grasses, wildflowers and bunkers. Its main defense is usually the wind, but it is typically one of the easier courses in the regular rotation. There are four par 3s and only two par 5s on the Seaside Course, so give an upgrade to players who excel on the shorter holes. All four typically play between 175-225 yards as well, so focusing on players that excel at those lengths is a good move.
The fairways at Seaside are usually among the easiest to hit on TOUR, but players typically don’t have room to air it out and bomb it off the tee due to doglegs and bunkering. As a result of all those fairways hit, the Greens-in-Regulation percentage was the second-highest on the PGA TOUR last season, with an impressive 75.04% of players on the dance floor in regulation. However, that’s where things got a little tricky — putting was the firth-hardest of any course last season, averaging 1.664 putts per hole. Players who excel on par 3s and are excellent putters will be a statistical fit this week. We also have good course history since this event has been played at this location for the past 10 years and many of these players are regulars at the event.
As you build your lineups, you’ll need to blend the stars in action along with some affordable options. Check out these four options who I think can pay off with a good week at a very affordable salary below $7.5K on DraftKings.
J.T. Poston, $7,300
Poston is one of the best putters in the group under $7,500 and is ranked 20th in SG: Putting over his 18 measured rounds this season after ranking 14th last season. He can sometimes struggle to hit the fairway, so a course like this should allow him some forgiveness and get him on the green where he does his best work. Poston was the second-best player on the PGA TOUR last season on par 3s and has been well above average this season as well, ranking T31 in par 3 scoring.
Poston missed the cut at The Masters last week but had started the season strong with four straight made cuts, highlighted by a T20 the week before Augusta in Houston and a solo third at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss. He finished T14 last year in this event, firing three rounds in the 60s on the Seaside Course.
Peter Malnati, $7,100
Malnati is another putting specialist who is worth a look this week. In his 18 measured rounds on the PGA TOUR this season, he is averaging 1.745 SG: Putting which is the second-best of any player on TOUR and the most by anyone with more than seven rounds. He has been an above-average putter throughout his career and almost always picks up strokes with the flat stick.
Like Poston, he has also started this season strong and actually finished just ahead of Poston in solo-second at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He has finished in the top 25 in each of his past three events after a T21 in Bermuda and will look to continue that success at Sea Island. Unlike Poston, though, Malnati hasn’t had success here in the past, missing the cut in each of the past four years. He fits the statistical profile for the course and comes in with good form, so if you overlook course history, you could end up with a great bargain play.
James Hahn, $6,900
Hahn opened the season with three straight top-10 finishes before a T50 at the Vivint Houston Open. The 39-year-old UC-Berkeley alum has gained strokes in just about every segment of his game during his hot start, including .818 SG: Tee-to-Green per round and .610 SG:Putting per round over his 12 measured rounds. It has been a nice turnaround from last season when Hahn struggled and missed seven of his final nine cuts before turning the page.
One of those cuts he missed was at this venue, but he made the cut in his two previous visits, including a top-20 finish in 2015. He is still playing on a major medical exemption after missing eight months in 2019 with an elbow injury and needs to keep racking up strong finishes to earn his way back to full playing privileges. Even though his success here was a while ago, his current form is strong enough to make him worth a look at this price under $7K.
Patton Kizzire, $6,800
Kizzire is one of several players this week playing a “home game” since they reside on Sea Island. He comes into the “home game” with a head of steam after making four straight cuts and finishing T11 two weeks ago at the Vivint Houston Open. Kizzire has played this event six times and made the cut four times, including each of his three most recent tries over the past three years, highlighted by a T15 two years ago. He started last year’s event strong before a disastrous 75 in the final round.
Throughout his time on the PGA TOUR, Kizzire has been an excellent putter, finishing in the top 10 in SG: Putting in 2019 and the top 25 last season. He gained 1.292 shots putting per round at the Shriners two tournaments ago but cooled off a little on the new course in Houston. His familiarity with the setting and strong game on the green should set him up for success this week and he’s my favorite play of the week under $7K.
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