Out of the Rough: The RSM Classic (2023)
The prolonged 2022-23 PGA Tour season is coming to an end with its final stop at The RSM Classic.
This week will mark the 54th event of this wraparound season that was extended into the Fall Swing to allow the Tour to turn to a calendar year based season starting in 2024.
Historically speaking, this event was once a laid back affair that had a tranquil vibe on the coast of Georgia but with the added implications of this Fall Swing, the pressure will be high this week.
The top 125 of the FedEx Cup Fall standings will receive full exemption for the 2024 PGA Tour season. Those within the top 125 will qualify for every full-field event as well as THE PLAYERS.
Additionally, those within the top 50 will qualify for the Tour’s new Signature Events and those in positions 51-to-60 will qualify for two of the Signature Events - The Genesis Invitational and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Adam Svensson returns to the Sea Island Golf Club as the defending champion of the event. He’ll look to become the first ever back-to-back winner of The RSM Classic.
Joining him is a rather impressive list of names, headlined by the defending The Open Champion in Brian Harman who also lives here.
There are also many other notable names in this field that call St. Simons Island home along with Harman. They include Zach Johnson, Harris English, Keith Mitchell and Patton Kizzire. It is worth noting that no resident has ever won The RSM Classic.
Budding star Ludvig Aberg will also be teeing it up this week as he looks to continue his impressive global play. Aberg, currently 53rd in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR,) is looking to crack the top 50 of the OWGR for a Masters’ invite in 2024.
Cameron Young will also be teeing it up this week as he looks to build off his T54th finish at the World Wide Technology Championship and find some end-of-the-season form.
Padraig Harrington, who just won his sixth title on the PGA Tour Champions two weeks ago, will be playing in The RSM Classic for the first time since 2017 this week as well.
As previously mentioned, there is a list of golfers looking to secure full exemption for the 2024 PGA Tour season.
Those who currently occupy spots 121-to-125 in the current FedEx Cup Standings are Henrik Norlander, Peter Malnatti, Andrew Novak, Maverick McNealy and C.T. Pan.
Those who are currently in spots 126-to-130 and hoping for a big week this week include Patton Kizzie, Zecheng Dou, Cameron Champ, MJ Daffue and Austin Smotherman.
Each of the previously ten listed golfers are playing this week with massive implications on the line.
Additionally, Luke List and Thomas Detry who are currently numbers 61 to 62 in the FedEx Cup Standings are looking to play themselves into the top 60 to receive invites to the first two Signature Events.
This week’s The RSM Classic is played at two separate courses at the Sea Island Golf Club - the Plantation Course and the Seaside Course - in rotation for the first two days.
Those who make the cut will play their final two rounds at the Seaside Course.
The Seaside Course plays as a par 70 at 7,005 yards.
It was originally made up of two separate nine-hole courses. The first nine-hole course was designed by Colt and Alison in 1929 and the second was added in 1973, designed by Joe Lee.
The Seaside Course was created in 1999 when Tom Fazio combined the two.
This track is positioned right on the southern tip of St. Simons Island and is described as a sea-side links style venue with Bermuda grass throughout.
It consists of two par-fives, four par-threes and 12 par-fours. Of the par-fours, ten of them play under 450 yards.
The most difficult hole at the Seaside Course is the par-four 14th hole that plays at 442-yards and has an average score of 0.1 strokes over par.
Being on the coast, this course is susceptible to very windy conditions. However, if the wind doesn’t become a factor, this course can play very easy.
Sebastian Munoz opened the 2021 renewal of this event with a ten-under-par 60 at the Seaside Course.
This course’s biggest defense is simply, the wind.
The Plantation Course plays as a par-72 at 7,060 yards.
It was originally designed by Walter Travis in 1926 and was renovated in 1998 by Rees Jones. It was then revamped once again in 2019 by Love Golf Design.
Following the modifications in 2019, 153 yards were added and the course was made more difficult overall.
The par-five eighth hole was the only hole unchanged during the 2019 revamping.
This course is described as “parkland by the sea.”
Much like what we see at the Torrey Pines’ rotation of the North and South Courses, golfers must capitalize on the easier Plantation Course during one of their two opening rounds.
The Plantation Course has an average scoring average of 1.6 under par as the Seaside Course has an average scoring average of 0.9 under par.
The forecast this week leaves a bit to be desired. There is currently a 60-percent chance of precipitation for Thursday and a 40-percent chance on Friday. From there, Saturday holds a 20-percent chance and Sunday a zero-percent chance. Temperatures will remain in the low-to-mid 70-degrees across all four days as well. Winds will be prevalent this week as well. Thursday is calling for winds of 16 miles-per-hour, Friday 13 miles-per-hour, Saturday ten miles-per-hour and Sunday 11 miles-per-hour.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)
Proximity to the hole from 100-175 Yards
Birdie or Better Percentage
Hit Fairway Percentage
Par Four Average Scoring
I would be completely fine skipping this price range all together this week. There are just three options this week. For the sake of this article I’ll lean towards Brian Harman ($10,300.) Harman is making his first appearance on the PGA Tour since the TOUR Championship back in August. He of course claimed The Open Championship this year in dominating fashion. He’s currently first on Tour in scrambling, 11th in par four average scoring, 15th in hit fairway percentage, 83rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 85th in Birdie or Better Percentage, 89th in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards and 112th in SG: APP. He is also a resident of St. Simons Island. This is the first time in a while where my suggestion in this price range isn’t on my betting card.
My overall favorite for this week can be found in this price range in Russell Henley ($9,700.) This is the ideal course for Henley to dominate. Like Harman, this is the first time we’re seeing Henley since the TOUR Championship in August. We do need to mention the run of form he had to end the season however. He placed T2nd at the Wyndham Championship, T6th at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, T8th at the BMW Championship and T14th at the TOUR Championship. He is also second on Tour in hit fairway percentage, 11th in par four average scoring, 17th in SG: APP, 22nd in scrambling, 33rd in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards, 50th in GIR% and 84th in birdie or better percentage. The downfall to Henley’s game obviously comes on the greens where he ranks 144th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. However, Henley is perfectly capable of one of those coveted spike putting weeks. At the Wyndham Championship he led the field in putting, gaining 9.566 strokes across all four days. He also gained 2.087 strokes putting at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. I’m playing two units on Henley at +1600 this week. Also consider Eric Cole ($9,900.) Cole has been a monster during this Fall Swing. He finished fourth at the Fortinet Championship, T35th at the Sanderson Farms Championship, T3rd at the Shriners Children’s Open and T2nd at the ZOZO Championship. He is also currently ninth on Tour in birdie or better percentage, 20th in SG: APP, 25th in scrambling, 27th in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards, 29th in par four average scoring and 51st in SG: PUTT Bermuda. His downfalls come with a 140th placement in GIR% and 157th in hit fairway percentage. I did include finding the fairways in my model this week, but missing them is not at all a death sentence. I’m playing a unit on Cole this week at +3000.
Brendon Todd ($8,500) was my favorite a week ago and is back in my lineups for this week. He’s currently sixth on Tour in scrambling, tenth in hit fairway percentage, 20th in par four average scoring, 24th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 55th in birdie or better percentage, 59th in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards, 67th in SG: APP and 132nd in GIR%. His GIR% figure isn’t the best but he’s still an above average approach player so I’m fine with that. Todd has performed very well in his previous two Fall Swing outings going sixth at the Fortinet Championship and T20th last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. I’m playing a unit on Todd at +4500. Also consider J.J. Spaun ($8,000.) If you’re looking for a reliable guy without breaking the bank, Spaun is your guy. He is currently second on Tour in scrambling, 16th in GIR%, 20th in par four average scoring, 36th in hit fairway percentage, 56th in SG: APP, 71st in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards and 113th in birdie or better percentage. His troubles, like most, come on the greens as he ranks 143rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda. However he did gain 1.301 strokes on the greens at the Fortinet Championship. He’s one of those guys that if he can putt to even on the greens, he’ll be just fine.
Once again, I’m rather excited about both plays in this price range and both appear on my outright betting card as well. First we have Chesson Hadley ($7,900.) I last played Hadley at the World Wide Technology Championship where he placed T7th. Along with that T7th finish, he also placed T7th in his prior outing at the Shriners Children’s Open. He also made the cut in his other two Fall Swing events in the Fortinet Championship and Sanderson Farms Championship. Hadley is currently 20th on Tour in par four average scoring, 30th in birdie or better percentage, 40th in SG APP, 43rd in GIR%, 45th in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards, 53rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 94th in scrambling and 123rd in hit fairway percentage. As previously mentioned, I’m not overly concerned about the missed fairway percentage. I’m playing a unit on him at +7500. Also consider Dylan Wu ($7,000.) Wu opened this Fall Swing with a T14th at the Fortinet Championship before missing two consecutive cuts (Sanderson Farms Championship and Shriners Children’s Open) before bouncing back to make the cut at last week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship where he placed T30th. He is also currently 12th on Tour in GIR%, 44th in par four average scoring, 48th in birdie or better percentage, 50th in SG: APP, 68th in both SG: PUTT Bermuda and proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards, 81st in hit fairway percentage and 99th in scrambling. In other words, he’s the first golfer we’ve talked about this week that is above average in each of the eight statistical categories I took into consideration this week. I’m playing a unit on him at +15000.
I’m going back to the Satoshi Kodaira ($6,600) well after a great performance last week. He is currently first on the entire Tour in hit fairway percentage, tenth in scrambling, 29th in par four average scoring, 37th in GIR%, 49th in both proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards and birdie or better percentage and 80th in SG: APP. His downfall comes on the greens as he ranks 148th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. He also comes in with some good form. He placed T12th at the ZOZO Championship and, of course, T13th last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. I’m playing him once again on my betting card for one unit at +30000. That wasn’t a typo by the way. Also consider Kevin Yu ($6,700.) I know, I know, not Yu again. Well of course, it’s Kevin Yu. He is currently second on Tour in GIR%, seventh in birdie or better percentage, 11th in par four average scoring, 64th in both SG: APP and hit fairway percentage, 71st in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 111th in proximity to the hole from 100-175 yards. His downfall comes in the form of an 182nd placement in scrambling. That’s troublesome and reflects on his card often. However, the rest of his game is very good and if he can get over the scrambling yips, watch out. Yu had a good week last week, placing T30th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He shot rounds of -8 (63) on Friday and -6 (65) on Sunday. Soon enough he’ll put a full four rounds together.
Russell Henley (+1600) - 2u
Eric Cole (+3000) - 1u
Brendon Todd (+4500) - 1u
Chesson Hadley (+7500) - 1u
Dylan Wu (+15000) - 1u
Satoshi Kodaira (+30000) - 1u