This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
THE RSM CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.188M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Courses: Seaside (primary) and Plantation courses, Sea Island Golf Club
Yardage: 7,005 Seaside/7,060 Plantation
2019 champion: Tyler Duncan
Wait, there's more golf?
Yes, the Masters is over. Life goes on. So does golf. And nobody is happier about that than tournament organizers of The RSM Classic. The normally dreadful field has gotten a big boost from being positioned right after and very close to Augusta. This week, the so-called Sea Island Mafia will be joined by a huge influx of international players sticking around for another week. Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Danny Willett, Bernd Wiesberger, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matt Wallace have all made the 200-mile drive to St. Simons Island, and they should feel right at home with the links-like feel of the Seaside course. In all, some three dozen guys who were in the Masters are in this week's field.
And so a tournament that had largely the same central cast of characters year after year through its first decade of existence will have a decidedly-different look. Many Tour pros connected to the Sea Island Golf Club are regulars, led by Sea Island Mafia godfather Davis Love III, the tournament host who has opted not to play this year. Others in the pack include 2015 RSM champion Kevin Kisner, Harris English, Brian Harman, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Patton Kizzire, Hudson Swafford and Jonathan Byrd. We don't know about you, but we've never heard of any mobsters named Harris, Hudson and Zach.
The top guy in the field, however, is Webb Simpson, who along with Hatton are the two top-10 golfers teeing it up. Other notables are Masters co-runner-up Sungjae Im, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak and – hoping to return from a positive COVID test – Joaquin Niemann. In all, 20 of the top 50 of the OWGR are on hand. Just five members of that category participated last year, and only 15 of the top 100 at that time took the course.
Even though the field is stronger, you should definitely be mindful of potential Masters hangovers. It can be hard to get up for a tournament the week after a major, especially for the golfers who played all four rounds, and even more so for those who were in contention Sunday.
The field is a maxed-out 156 for the first time this fall season. The RSM Classic used to be comprised of 132 golfers, but five years ago they added a second course to help beat the darkness – and with it two dozen more golfers to make gamers' jobs that much harder.
Golfers will play the Seaside and Plantation courses over the first two days before sticking to Seaside for the final two rounds. Seaside is a short, links-style, oceanfront track with wide fairways and big TifEagle bermudagrass greens. Wind is its biggest defense. Plantation is more of a parkland course with lots of trees, and last year it reopened after a year-long redesign by Love and his design company. We won't focus on the changes, since the course is used for just one round. Both tracks are tiny by today's standards, and there's water on more than half of the 36 holes. Last season, each course played among the easiest third on Tour, with Seaside ranked 25th and Plantation 34th out of 36. The par-70 Seaside features only two par-5s. Of the 12 par-4s, nine of them are under 430 yards. Driver will not be needed much. The golfers will often be hitting irons off the tee and short irons to the green. Really, the key to success this week will be hitting quality shots from the fairway on in.
Weather-wise, there's a chance of showers on Thursday afternoon. Otherwise it should be sunny, dry and windy all week. High temperatures are expected to be mostly in the low-70s.
Key Stats to Winning at Sea Island
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Driving Accuracy
• Par 4 efficiency: 400-450 yards
2019 - Tyler Duncan
2018 - Charles Howell III
2017 - Austin Cook
2016 - Mackenzie Hughes
2015 - Kevin Kisner
2014 - Robert Streb
2013 - Chris Kirk
2012 - Tommy Gainey
2011 - Ben Crane
2010 - Heath Slocum
Let's not even talk tee balls, other than the need to get them in the wide Seaside fairways. With the course short and the greens large, we can talk a little bit about greens in regulation, but if a golfer's numbers aren't good there, well, good luck to him. Duncan was fourth in GIR, Howell was first and Cook was second. The tournaments the past two years finished in a playoff, with Duncan surprising Webb Simpson and Howell besting Patrick Rodgers. Simpson ranked fourth in SG: Approach. Rodgers didn't have great approach numbers, but he led the field in SG: Putting. In looking at what golfers have said about the tournament in past years, quite a few of them mentioned that experience matters, that the greens are tricky. Maybe so, but five of the 10 champions won the tournament in their first visit – Hughes, Streb, Crane, Cook and – naturally in the tourney debut – Slocum. The winning score has been in the neighborhood of 20-under, a number Kisner blew past with his record 22-under total. Cook, at 21-under, nearly matched that. Duncan and Howell both shot 19-under. The over/under on the winning score is 263.5 at golfodds.com – 18.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Webb Simpson - $11,200 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
Simpson isn't part of the Sea Island Mafia, but he hails from North Carolina and plays well in the Southeast, as he showed last week at Augusta. He played meaningful golf all 72 holes and finished tied for 10th. He is such an automatic at this tournament it's hard to look away, as he finished second last year, third the year before and was runner-up back in 2012.
Tyrrell Hatton - $10,400 (20-1)
The Englishman is smarting after missing the cut in all three majors this year. But he otherwise hasn't missed a cut on the PGA Tour in 20 months. Hatton hasn't played this event before, but he's coming off recent top-10s at the Houston Open and CJ CUP.
Russell Henley - $10,100 (30-1)
Henley's poor putting could be the difference between contending and a top-10. But the rest of his game – especially his approach play and scrambling – has been exceptional for a few months now. He's ranked seventh on Tour in Par-4: 400-450 in the early going this season. The former Georgia Bulldog finished top-10 at The RSM Classic in three consecutive trips from 2015 to 2017.
Matthew Fitzpatrick - $9,900 (30-1)
Still looking for his first PGA Tour win, things could align for Fitzpatrick this week. The short course definitely plays to his strength, as does the premium put on putting. He ranked top-40 on Tour last season in driving accuracy and was second in SG: Putting.
Tier 2 Values
Sebastian Munoz - $9,000 (40-1)
Munoz missed the cut in this first two RSM Classic visits but finished third last year as part of a great fall season. He's been having another successful autumn, riding top-20s in his past three starts, all in elite fields, including the Masters (T19). Munoz is not the best putter, but he's far from bad, and his all-around game should serve him well this week.
Kevin Kisner - $8,600 (40-1)
The former Georgia Bulldog was the 2015 champion and has two other top-5s and a top-10 here. He's probably played this course more than anyone else going back to his college days. And after a missed cut last week at the Masters, Kisner will find comfort coming back to St. Simons Island. He's ranked 13th on Tour in Par-4: 400-450.
Brian Harman - $8,500 (50-1)
The native Georgian and another former Bulldog has made the cut in six of his eight visits, with two top-10s and a tie for 14th last year. He's a very good putter and is great around the greens. Harman has made 11 straight cuts and is coming off a top-25 at the Houston Open.
Ian Poulter - $8,300 (50-1)
Poulter quietly snuck into the top 25 last week at Augusta, where he traditionally plays well. Still, he's more suited to shorter tracks and really could make a dent in his second trip – he finished T36 in 2017 – to Sea Island. He's fought his way inside the top 50 of the OWGR with two top-10s in Europe and two top-25s on the PGA Tour in his past four starts. He ranked sixth on Tour last season in SG: Putting.
Tier 3 Values
Doc Redman - $8,000 (60-1)
A course that demands accuracy from the fairway is a blueprint for Redman to succeed. He ranked 11th on Tour in SG: Approach and 13th in driving accuracy last season. Redman has three top-5 finishes going back to the Wyndham Championship in August. He tied for 23rd in his RSM Classic debut last year.
Zach Johnson - $8,000 (60-1)
Johnson made 10 of his past 11 cuts, including last week at Augusta. He notched top-10s at The RSM Classic in both 2017 and 2018. He's ranked 42nd in Strokes Gained: Approach this season, 28th in putting and eighth in Par-4: 400-450.
Alex Noren - $7,600 (80-1)
Noren made his RSM Classic debut a year ago and tied for 10th. He had been playing great before an ugly missed cut at the Houston Open his last time out. Before that, he had made eight straight cuts, with three top-10s and three top-25s, including at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. Noren ranked 31st on Tour last season in SG: Putting.
Sepp Straka - $7,600 (80-1)
This price seems a few hundred dollars high for Straka, especially since he's missed the cut here the past two years. However, he has had a decent fall season, including a tie for fifth at the Houston Open. Straka is ranked inside the top 50 on Tour in SG: Approach and just outside it in SG: Putting. He's also ranked 14th in Par-4: 400-450.
Henrik Norlander - $7,100 (100-1)
Norlander tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play this week.
Norlander attended Augusta State and has played The RSM Classic four years running. He tied for fifth last year and was runner-up in 2016, still his best finish on Tour. Norlander ranked in the top-40 on Tour in SG: Approach last season and was 27th in par-4 400-450.
Matthew NeSmith - $7,000 (125-1)
NeSmith is very accurate with his irons. He ranked top-25 on Tour in SG: Approach last season and is doing so again in the early going of '20-'21. He's prone to missing cuts, but tied for eighth at the Shriners event and for 17th at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month. He tied for 14th last year in his RSM Classic debut.
Ryan Armour - $6,600 (200-1)
In 2020, Armour has played 20 times and has made only six cuts. But when he does reach the weekend, he does pretty darn well. He has three top-10s among those six, plus another top-25. Armour has made five straight cuts at The RSM Classic, including top-25s the past two years. He definitely prefers the short courses, as he averaged only 284 yards off the tee last season. However, he ranked an elite second in driving accuracy.
Scott Brown - $6,300 (300-1)
The 37-year-old Augusta native and former South Carolina Gamecock doesn't play well at too many places anymore. But he's done so at the RSM the past eight years, making six cuts and notching four top-20s, including a tie for 14th last year. He's even coming off a top-25 at the Houston Open.