The RSM Classic represents the final official tournament of the year for the PGA TOUR. The fall swing is technically part of the 2021-2022 season, so all the FedEx Cup points gained here will only flow into next year. There’s still big money and points up for grabs this week in this fall series staple at Sea Island.
This event will be played at two courses due to the fading daylight and features a full 156-player field. Fourteen of the worlds top 50 golfers are in attendance, with world No. 17 Scottie Scheffler leading the betting odds at +1000 on DraftKings Sportsbook. He’s followed closely by world No. 26 Webb Simpson at +1200. Simpson lost in a playoff here in 2019. Other top names playing include Sea Island resident Harris English and world No. 9 Louis Oosthuizen.
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 plays a factor, as 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. The Seaside course isn’t exactly tough, though, as both its par 5s will measure in under 570 yards in length, with seven to eight of the par 4s landing between 400-450 yards.
Last year, the Plantation Course played as the seventh-easiest course on TOUR at -1.561 strokes under par for the week while the Seaside course played as the 16th-easiest at -1.1 strokes under par. 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 more exposed and somewhat links-style in nature. Many players who have had success at this event have also had success at other short seaside courses, like Hilton Head, Sedgefield and Wai’alae Country Club, which also feature Bermuda grass. Last year, Robert Streb defeated Kevin Kisner (also a winner at Sedgefield and playoff loser at Hilton Head) in a playoff to grab his second career win at this event. Streb gained strokes throughout the bag but was very dialed in with his putter, gaining +4.5 strokes putting on the Seaside course in three rounds.
Looking for short track and Bermuda putting specialists on these sorts of courses isn’t a bad plan and something I’d recommend when making your lineups.
2021 Weather Update: The fall is officially upon us, and we could have some less than ideal conditions make this more of a higher-scoring affair than usual. Thursday starts out nice, with highs in the low 70s, but winds do pick up for the last three days. Gusts are expected to hit 15-17 mph on the weekend, and highs over the final three days will hover in the mid to high 60 degrees Fahrenheit range. This isn’t a long course, but when you add in the wind, birdies won’t be easy to find given the openness of the Seaside venue. Friday morning players could be better targets here as the wind isn’t supposed to pick up until Friday afternoon.
Last 5 winners
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)
2016—Mackenzie Hughes -18 (five way playoff)
– Six of the last 11 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.
– Three of the last five winners had recorded a T6 or better in one of their last eight starts on the PGA before winning here.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner: Robert Streb
(2021 lead-in: T55-MC-T21-MC-MC)
**we only have three measured rounds at the Seaside course to go off for data
- Streb didn't come into last year’s event with much form, but he was making his fifth start of the fall. As we’ve seen with many fall winners, often they are players who play a lot of events and tend to go off for one big week after getting in a few starts.
- 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.
- Good approach play certainly sets a player up for success though, and last year’s top nine players here all gained strokes on approach for the week.
- Driving distance is essentially a non-factor, and the greens are easy to hit (although, that could be tougher this year with the wind). Good scrambling is needed here, too, and could be a bigger factor this year, as these greens tend to be tougher than the average TOUR stop to get up and down on.
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 ($10,700; best finish: second-2019, second-2011, third- 2018): Simpson has a long history of playing this event that stretches all the way back to 2010. He’s got plenty of top finishes to fall back on this week, as he finished solo third here in 2018 and lost in a playoff in 2020. He also finished solo second here in 2011. Webb loves courses like Sea Island, which don’t require players to hit it over 300 yards consistently, and his record here makes him the lead horse this week.
2. Kevin Kisner ($9,200; best finish: win-2015): Kisner won this event back in 2015, his first win on TOUR, and has finished T20 or better six times in his last eight visits to Sea Island, including a playoff loss last year. He keeps grinding out wins at these shorter courses, too (Wyndham/Sedgefield this year), and can get red hot with his putter on these Bermuda greens.
3. Robert Streb ($7,500; best finish: win-2014 + 2020): He’s not very consistent, but it’s hard to argue with Streb’s record at this event. He’s won it twice in the last eight years and has made the cut here in five of his seven appearances. He remains a complete boom-or-bust option, but you can adjust his upside upward for this venue, which clearly suits his eye.
4. Charles Howell ($7,800; best finish: win-2018): In his last 10 appearances, Howell has finished T13 or better five times at Sea Island and also recorded just his second PGA TOUR win ever at this event in 2018. The veteran has missed the cut here three times throughout his career, but overall, has flashed more upside at this venue than most players in the field.
5. Zach Johnson ($6,900; best finish: T6-2020, T7-2018): Johnson has been abjectly terrible in the fall (three missed cuts and a T54) but loves playing at Sea Island. He’s finished top 10 at this event/venue three times over the last four years and certainly deserves some respect for DFS this week, even coming off a bad stretch of play.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($10,900; T2-T2): Scheffler had the lead going into the back nine last week but faltered badly and ended up in T2. He’s finished top five in his last two starts, though, and comes in looking the sharpest of any of the elite players.
2. Danny Lee ($7,700; T2-T7): Lee has really turned it on over his last couple of starts and leads this field in strokes gained total stats over the last six weeks. He’s a player to watch on these shorter courses and may benefit if the conditions are tougher.
3. Denny McCarthy ($7,000; T11, T15): McCarthy has bounced back in the fall after a rough 2021 and now finished T15 or better in his last two starts. His putter looks hot again, as he gained +4.0 strokes putting in Houston. He finished T8 at this event in 2019.
4. Talor Gooch ($9,300; T60-T11): Gooch cooled off a bit last week in Houston but still has three finishes of T11 or better, to his credit, over his last four starts. He ranks fifth in strokes gained approach stats in this field over the last 50 rounds.
5. Robert Streb ($7,500; T7-T62): Don’t look now, but last year’s winner is finding some form just in time for his favorite event. He’s grabbed two top-10 finishes in his last three starts and has gained over +2.5 strokes putting in three of his last four TOUR starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Kick things off with Kisner and Kuchar
As mentioned above, Sea Island tends to cater to a specific type of player, and that’s a veteran player type who can keep things in the fairway and rely on his putter and short game for scoring and to bail him out of tricky situations. Both Kevin Kisner ($9,200) and Matt Kuchar ($7,900) have dominated these type of courses throughout their career, with Kisner picking up wins at this event and Sedgefield while Kuchar has triumphed at Hilton Head and at the Sony Open. Kuchar has picked up his play of late, too, and is 3-for-3 in made cuts in the fall (with improved approach numbers). Banking on these players usually pays off at Sea Island. Other potential core targets here include Luke List ($7,500 - see below), Joel Dahmen ($8,500) and Doug Ghim ($7,200).
Tournaments: Put out a Call for Cam
At the top of the board, both Webb Simpson ($10,700) and Scottie Scheffler ($10,900) should draw out plenty of interest, leaving the potential for Cam Smith ($10,300) to go under-rostered. He was a solid T15 last week and, as a winner of the Sony Open, clearly has shown he can handle these trickier courses very well. He gained +4.0 strokes putting and on approach last week and won't be as hindered by his inconsistent off-the-tee play here. Alex Noren ($9,500 - see below) makes a lot of sense as a pay-up target this week, as does Danny Lee ($7,700), who I doubt will draw much attention, even after two top-10 finishes. He’s a streaky player but looks in great form at the moment. Other potential GPP targets here include Brian Harman ($7,800), Zach Johnson ($6,900) and Russell Knox ($6,700).
MY PICK: Alex Noren ($9,500)
This event would make for a perfect spot for a veteran player like Noren to pick up his first win. He has one of the best short games in the world and ranks second in long-term putting stats for this week, too. He’s a player who has tended to thrive in tough conditions over his career (wins at the Scottish and French Opens) and comes into this event having already got four starts under his belt in the fall season (one came over in Europe).
We don’t need to worry about experience with Noren either, as he’s playing this event for the third time in his career and has already grabbed a pair of top-20 finishes here. In both of those previous visits, he’s gained over +3.0 strokes combined putting and around the green. This venue has catered to veteran players like him, and he’s coming in with better form than most people probably realize, with three top-10 finishes in his last eight starts. This is a good breakthrough spot for the grinder, who should go overlooked in GPPs due to a relatively big salary.
MY SLEEPER: Luke List ($7,500)
I featured List in this spot last week, and he delivered with a T12 finish. It really could have been a lot better, though, as he was a shot behind the lead with about six holes to play and dropped out of the top eight with a double bogey. List ranks sixth in ball-striking stats over the last 50 rounds and is also an impressive top 20 in strokes gained around-the-green stats over that same span. Everything about his game says a breakthrough is coming, except for that pesky putter, which keeps bleeding strokes every week.
The improved short game should really pay dividends here, though, as Sea Island does tend to be a tougher scrambling track. He’s also done well on these shorter, more technical tracks over his career, with a T3 finish at Hilton Head in 2018 and a T4 finish at this event in 2018, as well. With the weather potentially keeping scoring higher, I like going back to a supreme ball-striker for value and a player who looks very close to putting it all together.
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