The Masters in November was fun and all, but it’s time to get back to the real meat of our PGA fall swing events with an old favorite, The RSM Classic.
Sea Island will again play host to the event, which will boast a much stronger field than usual with many of the Europeans who played at Augusta set to tee it up again this week.
The RSM Classic will use a pair of courses at Sea Island for the first two days — the Par 70 Seaside course and the Par 72 Plantation course. Both measure slightly over 7,000 yards.
Neither course is particularly difficult and we’ll probably get a winner in the 20-under range unless the wind picks up. We usually see similar type winner here as we do with other shorter, coastal tracks.
We’ll be targeting guys who can keep it in play off the tee, are good with the wedges and have a good track record putting on Bermuda.
With the two-course set up, it’s not a bad idea to target the Plantation course for first round leader bets if you can find them. The two extra par 5s will give you an edge here, although rounds of 61 or 62 are definitely in play on Seaside if the wind is down. Many books won’t list FRL odds when the opening round is played on multiple courses, but if you dig around, you’ll probably find someone who offers it.
Webb Simpson opens at the top of the odds at +1000. No surprise there really. He’s finished second twice here, including a playoff loss last year and is coming off a seventh at the Masters.
Tyrrell Hatton is next in line at +1800 and is making his debut this week at the RSM Classic. He did play well down at the Heritage earlier this year, an event Webb won on another coastal track. So he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Sungjae Im leads the group at +2000 fresh off a runner-up finish at The Masters. Normally, this would be a definite spot to fade a guy after a tough week battling for a major title, but Sungjae just seems to keep grinding each week. I’m not backing him, but won’t look to attack him in matchups either.
Tommy Fleetwood (+2200) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2800) headline the European holdovers from the Masters. Others in this group include Shane Lowry (+3500), Justin Rose (+4000), Lee Westwood (+6600), Matt Wallace (+6600), Bernd Wiesberger (+8000) and Danny Willett (+9000).
When evaluating this group, it’s important to note the course knowledge isn’t really a prerequisite to winning here. Three of the past six winners (Austin Cook, Mackenzie Hughes and Robert Streb) were playing the event for the first time.
Most of the European guys should be used to seaside, breezy courses so it wouldn’t be a shock to see some good form from the Masters carry over for one of these guys this week like we’ve seen a few times at the RBC Heritage, which usually follows the Masters.
With more big names than usual in this field, we’re seeing some of the usual favorites at this course pushed down the board a bit.
Both have similar games. They’re at their best on shorter courses where the bombers’ edge is reduced. They’ve got great wedge games and the putting is usually solid, especially on Bermuda.
Harman has been bet a few times in this space and I don’t really see too much of a reason to jump off now. He’s still grinding along, making cuts and putting up solid results.
Kisner had a tough week at the Masters, but in his start before at the ZOZO, he finished 14th in a strong field and gained over five strokes with his approach.
I’ll also go with Talor Gooch at +7000 on DraftKings. Gooch doesn’t have the best results here, but he finally made the cut for the first time last year and finished 23rd. I’m looking more at recent form with him. He’s finished inside the top five in two of his last three starts and has had the short game dialed in pretty well during that run.
This has been a good spot to find an under-the-radar flier in the past. Three of the past four champs went off at +9000 or higher.
As usual, I’ve found a few guys in this range to target.
We’ll start with Russell Knox at 100-1 on DK. Knox has been heading in the right direction this fall with three finishes of 16th or better in five starts. He’s also made the cut in four of his five trips to Sea Island and is coming off his best finish a season ago when he took 20th.
I’ll stay at that 100-1 number and take a chance on Aaron Wise at FanDuel as well. Wise is another guy taking advantage of a fresh start this season with three finishes of 26th or better in his last four starts.
He’s had some mixed results in two starts here, but a 13th place three years ago in his first appearance at the event is enough for me to think he can play well on these tracks.
We’ll go with one player making his debut at the event in Danny Willett at 125-1 on DK.
Strokes gained data isn’t available publicly for the Masters, but we do have basic shot link info and can piece some of it together. According to Justin Ray at the 15th Club, who does a lot of the stat work for the Masters, Willett led the field in approach, gaining 8.6 shots. If the irons are in that good of form, then I’ll take a chance with him.
His game in the U.S. isn’t much to look at recently, but in the past two years, he’s won the Euro Tour finale in Dubai and the BMW PGA at Wentworth. Those are probably the two biggest events on the Euro calendar, so when the game is right, he’s capable of taking down the best Europe has to offer, which is basically a lot of the top players at this event.
I’m also backing Patton Kizzire at 200-1 on BetMGM. Kizzire again follows the trend of guys finding their games this fall. He’s made four straight cuts and finished 11th two weeks ago in Houston. He’s a great Bermuda putter and resides in Sea Island.
His best finish here is only 15th in six tries, but he’s been playing better in recent weeks and that may carry over to a place where he should be quite comfortable.
The RSM Classic Card
- Kevin Kisner +4500 (.73 units)
- Brian Harman +5000 (.66 units)
- Talor Gooch +7000 (.47 units)
- Aaron Wise +10000 (.33 units)
- Russell Knox +10000 (.33 units)
- Danny Willett +12500 (.26 units)
- Patton Kizzire +20000 (.17 units)
Total Stake: 2.95 units