Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's RSM Classic Tips 2019

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I thought we might just have copped the winner last week with Harris English. What seemed like the whole golf betting community were on board and I was pleased to get a very early 55/1. The 36 hole leader, Harris gave us all a good run, but ultimately PGA Tour player of the moment Brendon Todd proved too strong at a superb value price of 110/1. Todd this week has the chance to 3-peat, and he would be the first player since Tiger Woods in 2006 to do so in three consecutive events should that happen.

So after 48 events, we finally reach the last PGA Tour tournament of 2019 – the now traditional year-ender RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort. Thanks to all readers, listeners of the podcast and watchers of our YouTube content across 2019 – it’s great to have had you on board this year!

Formerly The McGladrey Classic, the RSM Classic is popular with lots of the golfing community who reside (or have a practice base) here on Sea Island or on the adjoining St Simon’s Island – after all, it’s always handy to have a full PGA Tour tournament worth a record $6,600,000 on your doorstep. So names like Jonathan Byrd, Harris English, Brian Harman, Zach Johnson, Patton Kizzire, Matt Kuchar, Keith Mitchell, J.T. Poston, Hudson Swafford and tournament host Davis Love III will be spending a well-deserved tournament week in their own beds. Last year’s winner Charles Howell III was also a former Sea Island house owner.

It’s worth noting, however, that the local knowledge doesn’t stop there as Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Seamus Power, Josh Teater, Michael Thompson and Nick Watney all regularly use the Sea Island Golf Performance Center. Knowledge of Sea Island resort also stretches to a large number of players who studied and played college golf in Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities.

Sea Island Resort, Seaside Course, St Simon’s Island, Georgia: Designer: Colt & Allison, 1928, Fazio re-design, 1998; Course Type: Coastal, Resort; Par: 70; Length: 7,005 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 9; Fairways Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass, 2″; Greens: 7,000 sq.ft TifDwarf Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 10.5ft – 11ft. Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.28 (-0.72), Difficulty Rank 36 of 49 courses. 2013: 70.26 (+0.26), Difficulty Rank 21 of 43 courses. 2014: 69.42 (-0.58), Difficulty Rank 28 of 52. 2015: 69.31 (-0.69), Difficulty Rank 29 of 50. 2016: 68.89 (-1.11), Difficulty Rank 35 of 50. 2017: 69.24 (-0.76), Difficulty Rank of 35 of 51. 2018: 68.84 (-1.16), Difficulty Rank 33 of 49 courses.

Sea Island Resort, Plantation Course, St Simon’s Island, Georgia: Designer: Walter Travis, 1926, Rees Jones renovation, 1998; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 72; Length; 7,058 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 11; Fairways Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass, 3″; Greens: 7,000 sq.ft TifDwarf Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 10.5ft – 11ft. Course Scoring Average 2015: 70.81 (-1.19), Difficulty Rank 42 of 50 courses. 2016: 69.76 (-2.34), Difficulty Rank of 48 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.54 (-1.46), Difficulty Rank 43 of 51 courses. 2018: 70.45 (-1.55), Difficulty Rank 37 of 49 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Harry Colt designs include:

  • Hamilton G&CC – 2012 + 2018 – RBC Canadian Open
  • Royal Lytham, Muirfield and Hoylake – 2012-14 Open Championship

For research purposes, other Tom Fazio designs include:

  • Atunyote GC – Turning Stone Championship 2007-10
  • Conway Farms GC – BMW Championship 2013, 2015, 2017.
  • Corales GC – Corales Championship 2018-2019
  • Eagle Point – Wells Fargo Championship 2017
  • Raptor Course Greyhawk GC – Fry’ Open 2008/09

Fazio has also had re-design input into:

  • Riviera Country Club – Genesis Open
  • Seaside Course at Sea Island – RSM Classic
  • Quail Hollow – Wells Fargo Championship to 2016-2018 + 2017 PGA Championship.

Sea Island Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the Seaside Course and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Old White TPC: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:35; 350:32.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:22.
  • Medinah No 3: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:29; 350:27.
  • Liberty National: 250 yards from tee: 36 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:26.

Course Overview: The host Seaside Course is a links-style test, but don’t be fooled – you’d expect a technical challenge, but effectively the main defence of the course, which is barely 7,000 yards in length, is the weather from the Atlantic. Wide fairways and green complexes that average 7,000 sq.ft. make the Seaside Course extremely susceptible to birdie-making for those that can putt well on the grainy TifDwarf Bermudagrass putting surfaces. The greens themselves are quite a challenge as any putt within 10 feet is testing and difficult to read – especially for those that don’t get on with grainy Bermuda carpet.

The players also get 18 holes on the Plantation Course. The Rees Jones renovation is more of a parkland course by the sea. Fairways are tree-lined and the course certainly has a classical Carolina feel to it. However tidal creeks and lakes are in play across the majority of holes so mistakes prove costly. Plantation boasts expansive fairways and, at 7,058 yards, this Par 72 – which features three reachable par-5s – is undoubtedly even more of a birdie-fest than Seaside. Indeed it ranked in the 12 easiest courses on Tour last season.

The key to the RSM is approach proximity and strong Bermudagrass putting. The gnarly TifDwarf Bermudagrass greens are not to every player’s liking and conversion of putts from anything outside of 10 feet is tough. That level of difficulty is not shared with Plantation, so low scoring is a must there to contend, especially as it is an incredibly short Par 72 by modern day standards.

Winners: 2018: Charles Howell III (-19); 2017: Austin Cook (-21); 2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17); 2015: Kevin Kisner (-22); 2014: Robert Streb (-14); 2013: Chris Kirk (-14); 2012: Tommy Gainey (-16); 2011: Ben Crane (-16); 2010: Heath Slocum (-14).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Webb Simpson, Charles Howell III, Brendon Todd, Billy Horschel, Russell Knox, Brice Garnett, Zach Johnson, Brian Harman, Matt Kuchar and Brian Gay.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Safeway Open and Dunhill Links Championship, across both PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Armour; 2) Jim Furyk; 3) Brian Stuard; 4) Vaughn Taylor; 5) Chad Campbell / Doc Redman; 7) Brice Garnett; 8) Brendon Todd; 9) Nick Taylor;  10) Adam Long; 11) Russell Henley; 12) Henrik Norlander; 13) Satoshi Kodaira; 14) Matthew NeSmith; 15) Billy Horschel / Michael Thompson / Boo Weekley; 18) Jim Herman; 19) David Lingmerth / Ben Martin.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Harris English; 2) Kyle Stanley; 3) Boo Weekley; 4) Jim Furyk / Billy Horschel; 6) Alex Noren / Matthew NeSmith / Ben Taylor; 9) Nick Taylor; 10) Brice Garnett / Chesson Hadley / Adam Hadwin; 13) Ryan Armour / Chad Campbell / Zach Johnson; 16) David Hearn / Denny McCarthy / D.J. Trahan; 19) Troy Merritt / Nick Watney.
  • Top 20 Scrambling: 1) Alex Cejka; 2) Brice Garnett; 3) Zach Johnson; 4) Boo Weekley; 5) Adam Schenk; 6) Kramer Hickok; 7) Harris English / Brian Gay / Brendon Todd; 10) Alex Noren; 11) Andrew Landry; 12) Fabian Gomez; 13) Lanto Griffin / Adam Long; 15) Aaron Wise; 16) Dylan Frittelli / Billy Horschel; 18) Joel Dahmen / Russell Henley / Denny McCarthy; 20) Russell Knox.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Brian Gay; 2) Dominic Bozzelli / Seamus Power; 4) Beau Hossler; 5) Billy Horschel; 6) Adam Hadwin; 7) Josh Teater / Vaughn Taylor; 9) Maverick McNealy; 10) Harry Higgs / Matt Jones; 12) Hank Lebioda; 13) Russell Knox / Xinjun Zhang; 15) Rafael Campos / Peter Malnati; 17) Dylan Frittelli / Anirban Lahiri / Adam Long; 20) Lanto Griffin.

Winners & Prices: 2018: Howell III 50/1; 2017: Cook 90/1; 2016: Hughes 250/1; 2015: Kisner 22/1; 2014: Streb 75/1; 2013: Kirk 50/1; 2012: Gainey 200/1; 2011: Crane 66/1; 2010: Slocum 50/1. Past 6 Renewals Average: 89/1. Average: 95/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 58. Wind WNW 10 mph. Friday: Sunny, breezy and cool. High of 59. Wind NW 10-15 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 67. Wind NE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 71. Wind ENE 5-10 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Sunny with a high of 68. Wind NNE 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny and breezy with a high of 68. Wind ENE 10-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 72. Wind S 10-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny, breezy and cooler. High of 68. Wind NW 10-15 mph, gusting to 25 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 74. Light, variable wind 4-8 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 74. Wind ESE 4-8 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 77. Wind WSW 10-20 mph. Sunday: Sunny and cold, with a high of 62. Wind WNW 7-14 mph. Monday: Sunny and cold, with morning temperatures in the lower 40s. Wind WSW 5-7 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Cloudy, with bands of rain throughout the day. High of 85 degrees. Wind E 10-20 mph. Friday: Sunny and cool. High of 68 degrees. Wind NE 12-18 mph, gusting to 28 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 71 degrees. Wind ENE 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy with light showers in the morning and a high of 60 degrees. Wind NNW 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Sea Island, Georgia is here. This stretch of the Georgia coast has received heavy rain in the build-up to the event. 338mm across October and November is substantial, with 108mm of that arriving last week. The weather gods have relented though and tournament week looks clear, with the only threat of rain being on Saturday. Expect a soft scenario, which will speed-up throughout. Temperatures will peak at 18-22 degrees Celsius throughout, so cold in the mornings, warming through ok. Wind wise expect nothing more than gentle breeze on Thursday and Friday, so scoring will be at its lowest level. 10-15mph Saturday and 15-20 mph crosswinds Sunday will make this more of a test across the weekend.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of winners here at since 2011 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2018, Charles Howell III (-19). 297 yards (8th), 83.9% fairways (12th), 88.9% greens in regulation (1st), 29″11″ proximity to hole (14th), 50.0% scrambling (70th), 1.69 putts per GIR (19th).
  • 2017, Austin Cook (-21). 288 yards (38th), 85.7% fairways (4th), 83.3% greens in regulation (2nd), 31″10″ proximity to hole (16th), 91.7 % scrambling (1st), 1.68 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 2016, Mackenzie Hughes (-17). 280 yards (57th), 78.6% fairways (11th), 72.2% greens in regulation (50th), 31’1″ proximity to hole (16th), 85.0% scrambling (2nd), 1.62 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2015, Kevin Kisner (-22). 275 yards (54th), 78.6% fairways (17th), 81.9% greens in regulation (9th), 25’3″ proximity to hole (2nd), 84.6% scrambling (3rd), 1.63 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2014, Robert Streb (-14). 297 yards (6th), 73.2% fairways (25th), 73.6% greens in regulation (47th), 31’4″ proximity to hole (20th), 63.2 % scrambling (25th), 1.64 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2013, Chris Kirk (-14). 280 yards (24th), 67.9% fairways (41st), 76.4% greens in regulation (15th), 32’2″ proximity to hole (13th), 76.5% scrambling (5th), 1.78 putts per GIR (33rd).
  • 2012, Tommy Gainey (-16). 284 yards (35th), 71.4% fairways (33rd), 79.2% greens in regulation (23rd), 29’1″ proximity to hole (7th), 53.3% scrambling (22nd), 1.63 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2011, Ben Crane (-15). 288 yards (21st), 64.3% fairways (58th), 76.4% greens in regulation (26th), 33’4″ proximity to hole (25th), 58.8% scrambling (18th), 1.67 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2010, Heath Slocum (-14). 276 yards (66th), 80.4% fairways (4th), 81.9% greens in regulation (7th), 29’11” proximity to hole (15th), 61.5% scrambling (7th), 1.71 putts per GIR (13th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 34th, Driving Accuracy: 23rd, Greens in Regulation: 20th, Proximity to Hole: 14th Scrambling: 18th, Putting Average 9th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Charles Howell III (-19). SG Off the Tee: 38th, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 40th, SG Tee to Green: 19th, SG Putting: 24th.
  • 2017, Austin Cook (-21). SG Off the Tee: 12th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 9th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 13th.
  • 2016, Mackenzie Hughes (-17). SG Off the Tee: 38th, SG Approach: 61st, SG Around the Green: 1st, SG Tee to Green: 25th, SG Putting: 3rd.
  • 2015, Kevin Kisner (-22). SG Off the Tee: 15th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 44th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 4th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 26th, SG Approach: 21st, SG Around the Green: 24th, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 11th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how both Seaside and Plantation courses set up and what skills the course favours:

Charles Howell III: “Yeah, Seaside, honestly if you shoot under par, you’ve played a good day. If I can shoot anything under par tomorrow, I’ll be happy with it and then you keep

moving on from there. Anybody that shot 2, 3, 4 under today at Seaside, I mean, my goodness, what a round of golf it is in this wind, holy cow. Anything under par tomorrow would be great with me. Probably 14 just because, yeah, it was blowing pretty hard there on that hole and that’s a hole where you’re on that tee box, you’ll take a 4 and run, and made a 3 there. It was in off the left and just uncomfortable. But yeah, that hole there, because if you make three 4s there throughout the week, you’re happy. So to make a 3 there, it’s a drive and a 9-iron. The tee was up today because of the wind. But yeah, that one.”

Austin Cook: “I was here all four years at the SEC Championship, so I think it’s three rounds, and then – or the old format, three rounds and a practice round, so 16. Just being able to see the golf course and play it multiple times. I think it really does help the more rounds you get on a track, the more confident you are and comfortable you are on the golf course. It’s playing a little different this week than it does in May or whenever SECs are. It’s a little cooler but the grass isn’t quite the same. We’ve got some overseed this week, but I just think that being able to play it as many times as I have just really helped me out.

Kevin Kisner: “I’m interested to see what the scores will be tomorrow if the wind blows like they’re forecasting. You know, north wind, neither course is really made to play a north wind. I think that’s probably the hardest wind to play Seaside in. So I’m hoping they move the tees up on that course like they did over here, or maybe it just doesn’t blow at all and we can make a bunch of birdies.

Kevin Chappell: “Yeah, you know, Plantation course is in great shape, but the backside was tough there early. There were some pucker holes, 10 through 13. And then you can kind of get it. Obviously got me early. I played really well there the last 12 holes, last 13 holes. As we made the turn it got swirling pretty good. I drove it well today. I was in position and was able to take advantage of the soft golf course. Having two courses here brings back the feel of Disney again. It was real lax, but there was a tournament going on.

Zach Johnson: “What they’ve done is added a lot of sand to the fairways over the last year and it helps with the drainage, helps with the run out and that sort of thing. I played here about a week ago, and we had an inch and a half of rain. That’s a lot of rain. I was getting some plugged lies. I played two days after that and I played nine holes, and it was starting to roll out already. They’ve done some nice things with the fairways. The greens have always been perfect. They’re difficult because they’re undulated and they’re kind of table topped somewhat, but they still hold, so it’s going to be a great test. The rough is brutal.

Brian Harman: “I struck it nice, got some putts to go in. I think statistically which is one of the hardest plays to putt on Tour. The grain is very difficult to read here. I was pleased to make some 10 to 15 footers, some nice mid range putts and when you feel like you’re rolling it well you don’t have to be quite as aggressive coming into the green, so I was playing a lot of shots to the fat side of the green and just gave myself good looks and was fortunate enough to make a few of them.

Russell Henley: “The other morning in the pro-am, I was hitting it at least a club shorter, and you know, into the wind, into the cold wind, it was playing almost two, and if you hit a normal shot, it’ll spin back into you, so you gotta hit some half shots, so it’s kind of a weird you almost gotta take two more clubs and hit it three quarter shots just to keep it under the wind, so I’d say I was pulling on average two more clubs in the morning. I don’t know. I just confused myself on that one, too.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 RSM winners:

  • 2018 – Charles Howell III: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Austin Cook: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Mackenzie Hughes: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – Kevin Kisner: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2014 – Robert Streb: Round 1: 48th, Round 2: 10th, Round 3: 12th.
  • 2013 – Chris Kirk: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Tommy Gainey: Round 1: 65th, Round 2: 30th, Round 3: 29th.
  • 2011 – Ben Crane: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 9th.
  • 2010 – Heath Slocum: Round 1: 7th, Round 2 3rd, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Charles Howell III: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2017 – Austin Cook: Round 1: 3 behind, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2016 – Mackenzie Hughes: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2015 – Kevin Kisner: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2014 – Robert Streb: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2013 – Chris Kirk: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: level.
  • 2012 – Tommy Gainey: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 7 back.
  • 2011 – Ben Crane: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2010 – Heath Slocum: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.

Incoming form of winners since 2013:

  • Charles Howell III: MC Mayakoba/61st CJ Cup/5th CIMB/24th BMW.
  • Austin Cook: 50th OHL/20th Shriners/ 25th Sanderson/ 8th Tour.
  • Mackenzie Hughes: MC OHL/68th Shriners/26th Sanderson/13th Safeway.
  • Kevin Kisner: 2nd HSBC/37th CIMB/25th Shriners/28th Tour Championship.
  • Robert Streb: 10th Shriners/31st Fry’s/9th Deutsche/MC Barclays.
  • Chris Kirk: 25th CIMB/36th Shriners/24th BMW/16th Deutsche.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson.
  • 3 – Brian Gay, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar.
  • 2 – K.J. Choi, Ben Crane, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Fabian Gomez, Russell Henley, Si Woo Kim, Kevin Kisner, Davis Love III.
  • 1 – Ryan Armour, Aaron Baddeley, Jonathan Byrd, Austin Cook, Harris English, Robert Garrigus, Lanto Griffin, Adam Hadwin, James Hahn, Mackenzie Hughes, Charles Howell III, Patton Kizzire, Satoshi Kodaira, Martin Laird, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Keith Mitchell, Sebastian Munoz, J.T. Poston, Rory Sabbatini, Webb Simpson, Scott Stallings, Robert Streb, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Nick Taylor, Michael Thompson, D.J. Trahan, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Johnson Wagner, Boo Weekley, Aaron Wise.

The McGladrey in 2010-2012 formed part of the PGA Tour Fall Series with the 2013 renewal being played in November as part of the first wraparound season structure. Every winner of the tournament has played a Tour tournament post-East Lake. It’s also interesting to see that inaugural McGladrey champion Heath Slocum had captured The Barclays title 13 months previously in 2009. Of all the winners on the Seaside course, nobody has won a full Tour tournament in the calendar year prior to triumphing here. Tommy Gainey, Robert Streb, Kevin Kisner, Mackenzie Hughes and Austin Cook all captured their first main Tour titles here in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Charles Howell III won here 12 months ago – that was 11 and a half years after winning at Riviera in 2007.

I covered off many of the resident, Sea Island Golf Performance Center and SEC links at the top of this Preview. Local links are numerous, but a couple of additional themes jump out for this tournament. Three winners – namely Slocum, Kirk and Kisner – resided in the home state of Georgia when winning this title. You can add Charles Howell III to that list as he was born in Augusta, Georgia, despite living in Orlando, Florida, when winning this 12 months ago. He was also a former Sea Island resident. Other winners have hailed from Texas (Crane), South Carolina (Gainey), North Carolina (Hughes), Arkansas (Cook) and Florida (Streb). Mackenzie Hughes and Austin Cook, were both PGA Tour rookies.

For another route in, I’ve also looked at other events played in this part of the world. The Jones Cup Invitational is played in February and is part of the Amateur World Rankings. Played since its inception from 2001 to 2019, this event is held just up the coast from Sea Island Resort at the Ocean Forest Golf Club. I’ve listed those who have finished in the top 25 in the Jones Cup since 2007 who are in this week’s field. Some of the names have featured in this event previously:

Jones Cup Results

  • 2019 – 1st: Akshay Bhatia.
  • 2018 – 15th: Will Gordon; 21st: Doc Redman.
  • 2016 – 1st: Beau Hossler; 2nd: Matthew NeSmith; 19th: Hank Lebioda, Scottie Scheffler, Greyson Sigg.
  • 2015 – 3rd: Hank Lebioda; 5th: Matthew NeSmith; 11th: J.T. Poston; 14th: Ben Taylor; 22nd Robby Shelton.
  • 2014 – 4th: Sebastian Cappelen; 6th: Greyson Sigg; 17th Joey Garber, Robby Shelton.
  • 2013 – 4th: Matthew NeSmith; 11th: Zac Blair; 14th Chase Seiffert.
  • 2012 – 3rd: Ben Taylor; 5th Michael Kim.
  • 2011 – 3rd: Patrick Rodgers; 16th: Hudson Swafford; 19th: Peter Uihlein.
  • 2010 – 8th: Harris English; 20th: Adam Long.
  • 2009 – 7th: Brian Harman; 16th: Hudson Swafford; 19th Andrew Landry.
  • 2007 – 1st: Luke List; 3rd: Michael Thompson; 7th: Brian Harman.

Southeastern Conference (SEC) university golf is also played on the actual Seaside Course every year:

SEC Individual Results

  • 2017 – 5th: Greyson Sigg; 18th Will Gordon.
  • 2016 – 10th Greyson Sigg; 13th Matthew NeSmith.
  • 2015 – 1st: Matthew NeSmith; 3rd: Robby Shelton.
  • 2014 – 3rd: Robby Shelton; 13th: Sebastian Cappelen, Ben Taylor; 21st: Keith Mitchell, Matthew NeSmith.
  • 2013 – 1st: Sebastian Cappelen; 3rd: Tyler McCumber; 20th Dominic Bozzelli, Matthew NeSmith.
  • 2012 – 10th: Keith Mitchell; 15th: Dominic Bozzelli; 23rd: Austin Cook.
  • 2011 – 6th: Russell Henley; 12th: Sebastian Cappelen; 14th: Hudson Swafford; 21st: Harris English.
  • 2010 – 1st: Russell Henley; 10th: Harris English, David Lingmerth; 22nd: Austin Cook.

My selections are as follows:

Brian Gay 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Harris English went very close last week for us and the decision to include him was based on the simple current form/course form combination. Brian Gay again owes us nothing after finishing 3rd at the Bermuda Championship for us at 40/1 3 weeks ago, and like English he has that simple form combination golf punters like.

A superb putter from Texas who went to the University of Florida (SEC Championship connotations), Brian has always been Southern State agronomy positive. He’s also won PGA Tour titles at Harbour Town (2009), TPC Southwind (2009) and PGA West (2013), all came on Bermudagrass putting surfaces at a combined -63 under par. He’s also won twice on the coast, securing his first PGA Tour title at the alternate Mayakoba tournament in 2008, before landing his biggest Tour win to date when he won a Plaid Jacket at Harbour Town in 2009.

5th (2009) and 6th (2012) at Waialae, 8th (2018) and 7th (2019) at Pebble Beach, 1st (2009) and 6th (2017) at Harbour Town, 3rd (2019) at Port Royal and 1st (2008) and 5th (2011) at Mayakoba, provides plenty of evidence that Brian enjoys the sea breeze and coastal conditions immensely. That’s backed-up by his form here where he has finished 4th (2014) and 3rd (2018) and was 7th here after 54 holes last year. But where his form 12 months ago was patchy at best, Brian this season has delivered 23rd at Silverado (he was 9th after 54 holes), 7th at TPC Summerlin, 2nd at Port Royal and a fast finishing 14th last week at El Camaleon.

Boosted by his Hole-in-One at the par-3 10th in Mexico on Sunday which won him a car, Brian will be confident arriving in Georgia and, as we saw 12 months ago with Charles Howell III, win droughts can be broken here at the RSM Classic. Result: MC

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Zach Johnson 1.5pt EW 50/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

The proverbial ‘Horse for the Course’ Zach Johnson seems to be taking his golf a little more seriously at the moment. With his 5-year exemption for winning the 2015 Open Championship coming to a close this season I suppose it has to, and at 174th in the OWGR the days of being an elite player by performance have gone.

No top-10s on the PGA Tour since his 7th here 12 months ago highlights that the Sea Island resident has been struggling in 2019, but undoubtedly there are green shoots. 4 appearances so far in the wrap-around season – his most ever – have seen him finish 14th at Sanderson Farms and 23rd last week at the Mayakoba. 10th at the CC of Jackson after 54 holes and 10th after 36 holes last week at El Camaleon highlights a class player who’s starting to find his game again, and as we know players of the ilk of Graeme McDowell, Pat Perez, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell III and this year Brendon Todd, have used the PGA Tour wraparound segment to end long winless streaks.

Zach’s form here at Sea Island reads, 12th (2010), 16th (2013) 8th (2017) and 7th (2018). That’s hardly surprising on a course he plays regularly as he lives in the vicinity. A Tom Fazio course winner – he won the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms, the 12-time PGA Tour winner has to be taken seriously this week and I like his improved mental attitude right now, “My good buddy T-Dub won in Japan, and it’s motivating. I know how he operates from the practice standpoint and from and it’s inspiring. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I just know I’ve got some good golf in front of me, and if I stay healthy, I think good things can happen.” Result: T61

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Harry Higgs 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Harry Higgs played beautifully on the Bermudagrass greens at Port Royal 3 weeks ago and I think the Dallas, Texas native could go well on his first visit to Sea Island.

19th at the Greenbrier, 23rd at Safeway, 2nd at Bermuda and 33rd last week at El Camaleon shows a player who has settled well in his rookie season, and his season statistics are impressive. 41st for Bogey Avoidance, 38th for Scrambling and 43rd for Scoring Average is a trio of statistics I like for the RSM Classic.

27th for Proximity to Hole, Harry shot 66-65-65 at the Bermuda Championship where he led after both 36 and 54 holes. His -3/68 in the final round also showed maturity as he finished the job well, finishing in solo 2nd. That was Higgs’ fifth top-10 finish of 2019, and he also won the Price Cutter Championship at Highland Springs CC with a winning total of -22/266. His form, his play and his odds reminds me of Austin Cook 2 years ago who won this at 90/1, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Higgs get right in the mix this week. Result: T35

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Mark Hubbard 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Coral

Mark Hubbard has played some great stuff on his return to the PGA Tour and we have some course form to look at with the Texas resident.

10th at Greenbrier, 13th at Silverado and 2nd at Houston so far this season, Hubbard also finished 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th on the Korn Ferry Tour in a year which has been his career best. The winner of the LECOM Suncoast Classic in Florida on Bermudagrass in February with a -26/262 winning score, Hubbard can obviously go low and his 2nd at the GC of Houston last month also came on Bermudagrass putting surfaces.

This isn’t the first time on the PGA Tour for the 30 year-old who played the 2014/15, 15/16 and 16/17 seasons with top 20s being his natural ceiling. But 3 appearances at Sea Island brought some success. 68-67 saw Hubbard 10th at halfway on his tournament debut in 2014, but his visit here in 2015 really catches my eye. We were on board Kevin Kisner that year at 22/1 who delivered in a renewal which was on a soft course and featured some strong winds. Hubbard finished 18th, closing with a -3/67, and based upon the fact that the San Jose State University graduate is currently playing the best golf of his career, he must arrive in Georgia looking forward to the task.

44th for Bogey Avoidance, 64th for Scrambling and 44th for Scoring Average after 10 tournaments of the new Tour season, I think Mark is well worth a look this week, especially as he started with a -7/64 last week by the coast at El Camaleon. Result: T53

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Robby Shelton 1pt EW 150/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Tennessee Korn Ferry Tour graduate Robby Shelton has impressed greatly so far this season.  Whilst Korn Ferry Tour 2019 Number 1 Scottie Scheffler has taken most of the limelight, Shelton has been prominent enough. 5 pay cheques from 7 appearances include 7th at the season opener Greenbrier, 28th at Sanderson Farms and 6th last week at the Mayakoba. 21 events on the PGA Tour have generated 3 top-10s including when Shelton as a 19 year-old, in 2015 finished 3rd at the Barbasol Championship played on the Grand National course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in his home state.

As a professional a win apiece on the 2015 Swing Thought Tour in Florida and 2017 PGA Tour Canada Tour led to Shelton playing his last 2 years on the Korn Ferry Tour. 2nd at the 2018 BMW Charity Pro-Am (South Carolina) was the closest he came to a breakthrough in a relatively quiet rookie campaign, but that certainly changed this year. 2nd at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship (Alabama), 4th at the Dormie Network Classic (Texas), 1st at the Nashville Golf Open (Tennessee) and 1st at the Knoxville Golf Open (Tennessee) helped Robby finish 2nd in the Korn Ferry Regular Season Points list.

He must be looking forward to his trip to Sea Island this week, where despite playing his first RSM Classic, he has plenty of experience. 2014 saw him finish 3rd here on the Seaside Course in the SEC Championship, a feat he repeated in 2015. The Jones Cup just up the coast, played at the Ocean Forest Golf Club has also proved a happy proving ground for Robby who finished 17th in 2014 and 22nd in 2015. Result: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 09:50GMT 19.11.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.