Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's RSM Classic Tips 2021

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It was great to land Jason Kokrak at 50/1 last week at the Houston Open. After runner-up finishes from Maverick McNealy (50/1), Matthew Wolff (45/1) and Collin Morikawa (16/1) since the start of the new season in September, it was about time the golfing gods provided something other than a hard luck story. I hope plenty of you were on Jason, who landed his second PGA Tour title in Texas this year and his 3rd in 28 PGA Tour starts.

After 46 events, we finally reach the last PGA Tour tournament of 2021. This will be my last preview of the year, so thanks to all you readers, listeners of the podcast and watchers of our YouTube content across 2021 – it’s been great to have had you on board and we will be back for the Tournament of Champions in the New Year.

We move to the Atlantic coast in Georgia for the RSM Classic. Formerly The McGladrey Classic, the RSM within player circles is known as the Island Swing Major and 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 an increased $7,200,000 on your doorstep. So names like Jonathan Byrd, Harris English, Brian Harman, Zach Johnson, Patton Kizzire, Matt Kuchar, Keith Mitchell, Andrew Novak, J.T. Poston, Greyson Sigg, Hudson Swafford, Michael Thompson and tournament host Davis Love III will be spending a well-deserved tournament week in their own beds. 2018 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 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. 2021 also sees the field benefit hugely from the likes of  Jason Day, Branden Grace, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Scottie Scheffler, Webb Simpson, Cameron Smith and Louis Oosthuizen, boosting the field.

Before we go into the detail surrounding the RSM Classic, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: 2015 saw the RSM Classic extend to a 156-player field and a 2-course format. The Plantation Course sits next door to host venue the Seaside Course on St Simon’s Island. 18 holes of action across Thursday and Friday are split across the 2 courses, with the Seaside Course hosting the final 36.

The Seaside Course is, as you would expect, a links-type test. Seaside is an original Harry Colt design which in 1998 had a Tom Fazio re-design where the original ‘Marshside’ and ‘Seaside’ sets of 9 later were merged. It’s a true rarity – an American links-style course with man-made sand dunes, ridges and elevation fluctuations. The course is a short, 7,005 yard, Par 70 featuring Bermudagrass fairways and rough (average 2″) as well as pretty grainy TifEagle Bermudagrass greens that will run at close to 12.5 on the Stimpmeter.

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: 13; Fairways Tifway Bermudagrass with Platinum Paspalum; Rough: Tifway Bermudagrass, 2″; Greens: 7,200 sq.ft TifEagle Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 12.5ft. 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. 2019: 68.90 (-1.10), Difficulty Rank of 25 of 41. 2020: 68.69 (-1.31), Difficulty Rank 40 of 51 courses.

Sea Island Resort, Plantation Course, St Simon’s Island, Georgia: Designer: Walter Travis, 1926, Rees Jones renovation, 1998, Davis Love III renovation 2019; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 72; Length; 7,060 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 10; Fairways Platinum Paspalum; Rough: TifTuf Bermudagrass, 1.5″; Greens: 6,100 sq.ft TifEagle Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 11ft – 11.5ft. 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. 2019: 70.44 (-1.56), Difficulty Rank of 34 of 41. 2020: 71.34 (-0.66), Difficulty Rank 25 of 51 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

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Tom Fazio designs include:

  • Atunyote GC – Turning Stone Championship 2007-10.
  • Caves Valley GC – BMW Championship 2021.
  • Congaree GC – Palmetto Championship 2021.
  • Conway Farms GC – BMW Championship 2013, 2015, 2017.
  • Corales GC – Corales Championship.
  • Eagle Point – Wells Fargo Championship 2017.
  • Raptor Course Greyhawk GC – Fry’s.com Open 2008/09.
  • Shadow Creek GC – CJ Cup 2020.
  • The Summit Club – CJ Cup 2021.

Fazio has also had re-design input into:

  • Riviera Country Club – Genesis Invitational.
  • Quail Hollow – Wells Fargo Championship 2016, 2018, 2019 & 2017 PGA Championship.
  • Merion – 2013 U.S. Open.
  • Oakmont – 2016 U.S. Open.

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.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Caves Valley: 40- 60 yards.
  • Liberty National: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:27.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 350:22.

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 7200 sq.ft. make the Seaside Course extremely susceptible to birdie-making for those who can putt well on TifEagle 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. Freshly renovated by tournament host Davis Love III, this is more of a parkland course by the sea. Fairways are tree-lined and the course certainly has a classical Carolina feel to it, with players mentioning links to Harbour Town Golf Links. However tidal creeks and lakes are in play across the majority of holes, so mistakes prove costly. Plantation boasts expansive fairways and, at 7,060 yards, this Par 72 – which features three reachable par-5s – can (wind allowing) undoubtedly offer up more birdies than Seaside, despite players mentioning that the new Love III inspired green complexes are more difficult, with distinct quadrants and multi-tier layers. 2019 saw it rank the 7th easiest course on Tour, although that jumped significantly in 2020 with tougher winds on Thursday/Friday.

The key to the RSM is approach proximity and strong Bermudagrass putting. The TifEagle 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, when the wind allows, is not shared with Plantation, so low scoring is a must there to contend, especially as it’s an incredibly short Par 72 by modern day standards.

rsm classic tips

Winners: 2020: Robert Streb (-19), 2019: Tyler Duncan (-19); 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).

Cut Line:

  • 2020: -3; 2019: -4; 2018: -2; 2017: -3; 2016: -5; 2015: -3.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2020: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -17; Round 4 -19.
  • 2019: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -19.
  • 2018: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -19.

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 Russell Henley, Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner, Adam Long, Brian Stuard, Robert Streb, Cameron Smith, Brian Gay, Alex Noren and Mackenzie Hughes.

Tournament Winners & Prices: 2020: Streb 350/1; 2019: Duncan 200/1; 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 8 Renewals Average: 136/1; Overall Average: 128/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2020: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 68. Wind NE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 73. Wind NE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 74. Wind NE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 73. Wind NE 10-15 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 67. Wind ENE 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 73. Wind SSE 6-12 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 74. Wind S 10-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 62. Wind W 10-15 mph.
  • 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.

It should be an interesting week at the RSM Classic. Temperatures look colder than 12 months ago with 17-23 degrees Celsius not the norm on the PGA Tour. Indeed from Friday onwards the thermometer is not set to break 20 degrees Celsius. The past week has seen little rain here, so I’m expecting perfect turf conditions on courses that drain brilliantly anyway. As ever the real defence on coastal tracks is wind, so a calm day on Thursday will be the green light for scoring. From there a 10-15 mph, gusting 20mph north-westerly will keep them honest. I doubt the winning score deviates from around the -19/-20 mark we have seen for years here.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Ryder Cup which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Corey Conners; 2) Jhonattan Vegas; 3) Cameron Young; 4) Hayden Buckley; 5) Nick Hardy; 6) Callum Tarren; 7) Seth Reeves; 8) Charles Howell III; 9) Louis Oosthuizen; 10) Keith Mitchell; 11) Emiliano Grillo / Davis Thompson; 13) Tyler Duncan / Lee Hodges; 15) Lucas Glover; 16) Mito Pereira; 17) Trey Mullinax; 18) Matt Jones; 19) Luke List; 20) Dylan Wu; 21) Paul Barjon; 22) Jared Wolfe; 23) Hudson Swafford; 24) Scottie Scheffler / Vincent Whaley.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Kurt Kitayama; 2) Russell Henley; 3) Tom Hoge; 4) Cameron Smith / Chris Stroud; 6) Mito Pereira; 7) Talor Gooch; 8) Nick Hardy / Matt Kuchar; 10) Harris English; 11) Luke List; 12) Joel Dahmen / Louis Oosthuizen / Chad Ramey; 15) Peter Malnati; 16) Doug Ghim / Lucas Glover / Emiliano Grillo; 19) Luke Donald / Adam Schenk; 21) Jhonattan Vegas / Jimmy Walker; 23) Hayden Buckley / Chris Kirk; 25) Sahith Theegala.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Rory Sabbatini; 2) Charles Howell III; 3) Louis Oosthuizen; 4) Stephan Jaeger; 5) Kramer Hickok / Matt Jones; 7) Mackenzie Hughes; 8) Dylan Frittelli / Scott Gutschewski / Chris Kirk / William McGirt / Max McGreevy; 13) Jonas Blixt / Keith Mitchell / Alex Noren / Davis Thompson; 17) Denny McCarthy / Cameron Young; 19) Tyler Duncan / Harris English / Russell Henley; 22) Scott Piercy; 23) Lee Hodges; 24) Luke Donald / Luke List / Webb Simpson.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Russell Henley / Louis Oosthuizen; 3) Jhonattan Vegas; 4) Hayden Buckley; 5) Cameron Young; 6) Luke List; 7) Tyler Duncan; 8) Nick Hardy; 9) Davis Thompson; 10) Kramer Hickok; 11) Tom Hoge / Matt Jones; 13) Talor Gooch / Mito Pereira / Seth Reeves / Cameron Smith; 17) Chris Kirk / Sahith Theegala; 19) Lee Hodges / Matt Kuchar; 21) Denny McCarthy; 22) Scott Piercy / Alex Smalley; 24) Chris Stroud; 25) Charles Howell III / Keith Mitchell / Aaron Rai.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Cameron Young; 2) Adam Long; 3) Hayden Buckley; 4) Michael Thompson; 5) Adam Schenk / Vincent Whaley; 7) Hank Lebioda; 8) Adam Hadwin; 9) Sung Kang; 10) Nate Lashley; 11) Brendon Todd; 12) Harry Higgs; 13) Mackenzie Hughes; 14) Justin Rose; 15) Brandon Wu; 16) Dawie van der Walt; 17) Corey Conners / Max McGreevy / Alex Noren / Scottie Scheffler / Robert Streb; 22) Brian Gay / Trey Mullinax / Martin Trainer; 25) Jason Day / Lanto Griffin.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Hayden Buckley; 2) Cameron Smith; 3) Russell Henley; 4) Jhonattan Vegas; 5) Tyler Duncan; 6) Chris Kirk; 7) Adam Hadwin / Nick Hardy / Louis Oosthuizen; 10) Denny McCarthy / Adam Schenk; 12) Corey Conners; 13) Mackenzie Hughes / Cameron Young; 15) Alex Smalley; 16) Joel Dahmen; 17) Harry Higgs / Matt Jones / Seth Reeves; 20) Mito Pereira / Matthias Schwab; 22) Emiliano Grillo / Matt Kuchar / Max McGreevy / Chris Stroud / Davis Thompson.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at the host Seaside Course since 2015 click here

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends: Analysing the Strokes Gained stats on the host Seaside Course of winners since 2015 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2020, Robert Streb (-19). SG Off the Tee: 31st, SG Approach: 36th, SG Around the Green: 27th, SG Tee to Green: 35th, SG Putting: 9th.
  • 2019, Tyler Duncan (-19). SG Off the Tee: 21st, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 38th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 14th.
  • 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: 27th, SG Tee to Green: 14th, SG Putting: 11th.

Traditional Skill Set Trends: Analysing the final stats of winners here at the RSM Classic since 2015 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2020, Robert Streb (-19). 282 yards (51st), 71.4% fairways (36th), 83.3% greens in regulation (7th), 37″10″ proximity to hole (53rd), 83.3 % scrambling (5th), 1.68 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 2019, Tyler Duncan (-19). 280 yards (47th), 89.3% fairways (6th), 83.3% greens in regulation (4th), 24″9″ proximity to hole (1st), 91.7% scrambling (1st), 1.70 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 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).

Traditional Skill Set Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 43rd, Driving Accuracy: 14th, Greens in Regulation: 12th, Proximity to Hole: 17th, Scrambling: 14th, Putting Average 9th.

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

Robert Streb (2020): “The key to this victory, it was just the putter. I had some pretty good spats of ball-striking in the middle, but I made some putts early and some good par putts the first round, then made a good chunk of them coming down the stretch that got me to 5 under on a pretty windy day the first round. Made a bunch of putts second and third round. I missed a few today, but overall I would say it’s the best I putted in a long time.”

Webb Simpson – DLIII Renovated Plantation Course: “Yeah, I mean, it’s usually windy here like Hilton Head so you’ve got to keep your ball on the ground. You have plenty of holes that are crosswinds, so that can be challenging. There’s water everywhere, so there are some similarities. But I love the redesign, Davis did a great job. There’s a lot of slope in the greens now, so you can really use those slopes to help you and get the ball in the hole.”

Scott Brown – DLIII Renovated Plantation Course:Plantation‘s much tougher now with the new greens, I think, than it was before. You just had to get it in the right quadrant. You could get some good looks if you got it in those quadrants with the greens the way they’re tiered, but also, you know, on the other hand, if you’ve got them on the wrong side of them, you’ve got a tough two-putt. So I think it’s a great golf course and they’ve made it a lot tougher.”

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.

Chris Kirk: “Most important factor here? I’d say driving, generally this is a course I would say it’s not an overly long course, so it tends to favour the shorter, straighter hitter.  I’m not a bomber by any means, but a little bit longer than average, I guess, on Tour and have yet to finish inside the Top 100 in driving accuracy in my first three years on Tour.

I definitely rely on hitting some good iron shots from the fairway and not always from the fairway and good scrambling and putting.  But this is a golf course that you really need to play from the fairway and thankfully I drove the ball well this week and the rest of my game was really good.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 11 RSM Classic winners:

  • 2020 – Robert Streb: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Tyler Duncan: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 5th.
  • 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 11 RSM Classic winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2020 – Robert Streb: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2019 – Tyler Duncan: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 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:

  • Robert Streb: 55th Bermuda/MC Sanderson/21st Corales/ MC Safeway.
  • Tyler Duncan: 47th Mayakoba/18th Bermuda/MC Shriners/MC Sanderson.
  • Charles Howell III: MC Mayakoba/61st CJ Cup/5th CIMB/24th BMW.
  • Austin Cook: 50th OHL/20th Shriners/ 25th Sanderson/ 8th web.com 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 PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Jason Day, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar.
  • 3 – Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker, Camilo Villegas.
  • 2 – Ben Crane, Luke Donald, Harris English, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Davis Love III, Scott Piercy, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Cameron Smith, Robert Streb, Jimmy Walker.
  • 1 – Jonas Blixt, Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink, Austin Cook, Tyler Duncan, Branden Grace, Lanto Griffin, Adam Hadwin, Jim Herman, Max Homa, Charles Howell III, Mackenzie Hughes, Matt Jones, Sung Kang, Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Graeme McDowell, Keith Mitchell, Sebastian Munoz, Seung-yul Noh, J.T. Poston, Rory Sabbatini, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Hudson Swafford, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney.

This tournament was formally known as the McGladrey Classic, which in 2010-2012 formed part of the PGA Tour Fall Series with the 2013 renewal being played in November as part of the first wrap-around season structure. Every winner of the tournament has played a PGA 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, Austin Cook and Tyler Duncan all captured their first main Tour titles here in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 respectively. Charles Howell III won here in 2018 – that was 11 and a half years after winning at Riviera in 2007. Streb was the first 2-time winner here last year.

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 in 2018. He was also a former Sea Island resident. Other winners have hailed from the southern states of the United States, namely Texas (Crane), South Carolina (Gainey), North Carolina (Hughes), Arkansas (Cook) and Florida (Streb (at the time of his 2013 victory)+ Duncan). Mackenzie Hughes and Austin Cook, were both PGA Tour rookies.

For another route in, I’ve also looked at other amateur 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

  • 2021 – 1st: Ludvig Aberg; 2nd: Davis Thompson.
  • 2020 – 1st: Davis Thompson.
  • 2019 – 2nd: Davis Thompson; 12th: Alex Smalley.
  • 2018 – 13th: Davis Riley; 15th: Davis Thompson; 21st: Lee Hodges; 23rd: Hayden Buckley, Doc Redman.
  • 2017 – 2nd Max McGreevy; 4th: Andrew Novak, Matthias Schwab, Davis Thompson, Dylan Wu.
  • 2016 – 1st: Beau Hossler; 2nd: Matthew NeSmith; 4th: Matthias Schwab; 15th Davis Riley; 19th: Hank Lebioda, Scottie Scheffler, Greyson Sigg.
  • 2015 – 3rd: Hank Lebioda; 5th: Matthew NeSmith, Davis Riley; 8th: Adam Svensson; 11th  J.T. Poston; 14th: Corey Conners.
  • 2014 – 1st Corey Conners; 6th: Trey Mullinax, Greyson Sigg, Curtis Thompson.
  • 2013 – 4th: Matthew NeSmith’ 18th Trey Mullinax.
  • 2012 – 5th: Max Homa; 21st Curtis Thompson.
  • 2011 – 3rd: Patrick Rodgers; 5th Andrew Putnam; 16th: C.T. Pan, Hudson Swafford; 19th Peter Uihlein.
  • 2010 – 8th: Harris English; 12th: Henrik Norlander; 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

  • 2019 – 4th: Davis Thompson.
  • 2018 – 7th: Lee Hodges; 16th: Hayden Buckley.
  • 2017 – 5th: Greyson Sigg; 11th: Davis Riley; 16th: Hayden Buckley.
  • 2016 – 5th: Taylor Moore; 10th: Greyson Sigg; 13th: Matthew NeSmith, Matthias Schwab; 25th: Davis Riley.
  • 2015 – 1st: Matthew NeSmith; 6th Taylor Moore; 23rd: Matthias Schwab, Greyson Sigg.
  • 2014 – 21st: Keith Mitchell, Matthew NeSmith.
  • 2013 – 3rd: Tyler McCumber; 20th Matthew NeSmith.
  • 2012 – 10th: Keith Mitchell; 23rd: Austin Cook.
  • 2011 – 6th: Russell Henley; 14th: Hudson Swafford; 21st: Harris English.
  • 2010 – 1st: Russell Henley; 10th: Harris English; 22nd: Austin Cook.

My selections are as follows:

Brendon Todd 1.5pts EW 60/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Brendon Todd seems to be improving of late and that bodes well for the final week of the 2021 PGA Tour.

As we know, 3 winners – namely Slocum, Kirk and Kisner – have resided in the home state of Georgia when winning this title. You can add Charles Howell III to that list as ‘CHIII’ was born in Augusta, Georgia, despite living in Orlando, Florida, when winning this in 2018. So Brendon fits the bill on the basis that he lives in Watkinsville, Georgia. A 3-time winner on the PGA Tour, wins have come at the Byron Nelson, on the Par 70 at Las Colinas in 2014. More recently he won the 2019 Bermuda Championship on the sub-7,000 yard Port Royal Golf Course and 2 weeks later won the OHL Classic at El Camaleon. -24/260 and -20/264 winning totals in Bermuda and Mexico respectively are clearly the wheelhouse we are working towards this week on Sea Island.

Todd was 47th in the OWGR coming into 2021 and largely had a disappointing season, after a career best 2019/20 where on top of his wins he contended in WGCs (Southwind) and made the Tour Championship. But where he played well in 2021 fascinates me. 8th at El Camaleon, 13th at Kapalua, 8th at Colonial and 10th at Sedgefield. Coastal courses and short Par 70s are Brendon’s bread and butter.

Todd arrives here this week off the back of 22nd at Silverado (18th for Strokes Gained Approach and 8th for SG Putting) and an eye-catching 11th at El Camaleon. 10th for Driving Accuracy, 16th for Greens in Regulation and 3rd for Scrambling, Brendon’s playing some nice stuff right now. 16th (2014) and 4th (2019) here, Todd’s knowledge of the course is best described here from an interview back in 2014, “How many times have I played SEC here? well four times. That’s four rounds, four times.  That’s 16 rounds then.  I played a Southern Junior here; I played an AJGA Canon Cup here.  So that’s four more apiece for each of those.  That’s 24 rounds.  Plus I’ve played three McGladreys now, so I’ve played it at least 30 times.”

I love Todd’s balance of inbound form and course form so I’m in at good enough odds. RESULT: MC

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Mackenzie Hughes 1.5pts EW 60/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Mackenzie Hughes finds himself on the bubble when it comes to membership of the world’s top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings. That’s a big deal for any professional golfer, with a 2022 Masters invite the reward pre-Christmas if you can finish the year in that exclusive club.

And in Hughes we have a player who’s finished 15th at the U.S. Open and 6th at the Open Championship this year. The harder the course and the lower the overall field greens in regulation percentage, the better Hughes plays. That came out the other week in Japan, where Mackenzie was 4th at the ZOZO Championship – a tournament where only Hideki Matsuyama topped 80% Greens in Regulation.

This season Hughes has played 4 tournaments with form of 35-25-4-29 – he’s undoubtedly fighting for the top 50 spot. An unbelievable short game and putting exponent – across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, he ranks 7th for Around the Green, 13th for Putting and 13th for Current Form in this field – of late, Hughes has been showing progress with the consistency of his long game. 6th for Greens in Regulation last week at Memorial Park was his best performance in that category since the Rocket Mortgage in July. Also notably Hughes was 9th for Total Accuracy (the sum of Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation ranks) – his best performance in that category since his own Canadian Open in 2019. 20th for Tee to Green was also an eye-opener.

The RSM Classic is one of those tournaments where in-form consistent approach players or short game exponents can both win, and I like the chances of the 30 year-old Canadian going well if he can hit over 70% Greens in Regulation again this week. RESULT: 2nd

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Tyler Duncan 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Tyler Duncan is a course winner who’s been playing very nicely of late. The plotting sort who I like for Sea Island, he’s also undoubtedly Bermudagrass positive when it comes to putting.

The 2019 RSM Classic champion, he’s already finished 14th at the Sanderson Farms, 45th at Mayakoba and 29th last week at Houston across this new season. Now Memorial Park is far too long for Tyler, who tends to go better on shorter layouts, but he closed with a confidence-boosting 66 which was within the top 5 scores of Sunday. He’s percolating and that’s evident as he shot excellent rounds across both Country Club of Jackson (Saturday 67) and El Camaleon (Sunday 66).

Across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, he ranks 13th in this field for Off the Tee, 19th for Around the Green, 7th for Tee to Green and 5th for Strokes Gained Total. From a RSM Classic Strokes Gained perspective, he also ranks 13th for Approach, 9th for Ball Striking and 15th for Tee to Green across 14 competitive rounds – our full RSM Classic Strokes Gained analysis is here –  impressive stuff from the 32 year-old. If he can putt positively, as he did on Bermudagrass at both the Wyndham and Sanderson Farms, I expect big things this week. RESULT: MC

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Andrew Landry 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Andrew Landry is undoubtedly a ‘horses for courses’ sort, who knows how to get over the line.

A couple of wins on the Korn Ferry Tour, both by the coast – 2015 Servientrega Championship (TPC Cartagena) and the 2017 Great Abaco Classic (Royal Blue Golf Club) – have also been boosted by 2 more on the PGA Tour: his breakout victory was the 2018 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, followed by the 2020 American Express at PGA West. Wins at -17/271 and -26/262 highlight that Landry is that sneaky, plotting scorer who uses accuracy and a streaky putter to get the job done.

He’s also extremely hot and cold. Take 2021 until the close of season 2020/21, where he only made 8 cuts from 18 starts, with a best of 26th at the Genesis Invitational. The autumn though has seen a richer seam of performances: MC(Silverado)-4th(CC of Jackson)-MC(TPC Summerlin)-7th(El Camaleon)-MC(Memorial Park). Andrew has never been one for consecutive top-10s, but on the rare occasion when his approach play is on point, he’s certainly one to follow – and that brings us to the RSM Classic at Sea Island.

A Texan who went to the University of Arkansas, Landry has plenty of SEC history here, and in his own words describes this place, “I’ve had some good success here in the past with the SEC Championships. It’s a golf course I really love and I’ve had good success here on the PGA Tour.” 4th (2018) and 4th (2020), from 16 rounds here since 2015, Andrew across our full RSM Classic Strokes Gained analysis is here ranks 10th for Tee to Green and 13th for Strokes Gained Total. RESULT: MC

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Davis Riley 1pt EW 150/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Tour rookie Davis Riley has also impressed me this autumn, without totally destroying his price. 56th at the Shriners Open, 7th at the Bermuda Championship and 29th last week at the Houston Open sees the 24 year old from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, within the top 70 in the early FedEx Cup standings.

1st for Total Driving, 9th for Total Accuracy and 3rd for Ball Striking around the tough confines of Memorial Park in Houston, Davis must be looking forward to a tournament where he made the cut on his debut in 2019 – indeed he was 24th going into the weekend, when having no PGA Tour status whatsoever.

A former University of Alabama product, Davis has masses of SEC experience here at Sea Island. Indeed individually – the SEC Championship is predominantly a team event – he was 25th in 2016 and 11th in 2017 on the Seaside Course. 5th (2015), 15th (2016) and 13th (2018) at the amateur Jones Cup played next door at Ocean Forest Golf Club, highlights to me a player who knows the Sea Island courses well, and clearly likes playing on them. RESULT: MC

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Greyson Sigg 1pt EW 150/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Greyson Sigg is another I’ve kept a close eye on since he made the cut at the Torrey Pines-hosted U.S. Open. 9th at this year’s Corales Championship as a Korn Ferry player, Greyson went on to win the Knoxville Open and finish 5th at the AdventHealth Championship in May; 15th at the Barracuda Championship in early August, he went on to capture his second Korn Ferry title of 2021 at the Boise Open. Clearly Sigg is no shrinking violet.

Now as a PGA Tour rookie his results have been consistent. 30th at the Fortinet, 47th at the Shriners Open, 22nd at the Bermuda Championship and 33rd at the WWT Championship – Greyson seems ok with life on the world’s biggest Tour. A Sea Island resident and Sea Island Golf Performance Center professional, Sigg clearly has masses of experience of golf here. And that comes through in his amateur results here on Sea Island. A University of Georgia product, Sigg at the SEC Championship finished 23rd (2015), 10th (2016) and 5th (2017) here on the Seaside Course. And next door at the Jones Cup hosted at Ocean Forest, his record reads 6th (2014) and 19th (2016). Must have been looking forward to this week, ever since promotion to the Tour in September. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:30GMT 15.11.21 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.