It is the final week of the 2016 portion of the PGA Tour season and The RSM Classic, hosted by Davis Love III, from Sea Island, Ga. There's a huge influx of the Sea Island boys back again this year along with some intriguing young players. Here's our stats preview.
This event is played over two courses, the Seaside and Plantation Courses, before moving solely to the Seaside Course over the weekend. Thus, it's a huge field. We're going to do something different this week since these courses demand precision yet birdies, and thus strokes gained-total is the best stat to use. I’ll go through the major categories and point out the top player in the field in each category and whether they're a good pick.
Strokes gained-total: Lucas Glover, gaining 2.288 strokes per round on the field
I love this pick for this week. Glover's been trending in the right direction for a while now, finishing T5 at the Sanderson Farms and third in Vegas. He ranks fifth in strokes gained-total, 11th in off the tee, fifth in greens in regulation and eighth in scoring average. He's a great pick to both win and finish high/be consistent over four days.
Strokes gained-putting: Cody Gribble -- 1.673
Although Brian Gay is technically the leader in this category, it's only over two starts. I don't recommend him. Gribble is right behind him and his stats are over four starts including the win, so it's not only a better baseline to judge from but it's also a better pick. He won in Jackson, Miss., and is 19th in birdie average and 17th in scoring average, 25th in scrambling, 40th in proximity to the hole and third in average distance of putts made, he's a strong choice this week on greens that have to be putted pure.
Driving Distance: Luke List -- 322.6 yards
Not a fan of List in this category this week as both golf courses require a level of precision that can get away from List at times, though he has worked to be better at it. He's 162nd in driving accuracy and that's the reason I don't like him this week.
A better choice for those who like the long ball: Ollie Schniederjans. He has a better overall game.
Driving Accuracy: Brian Stuard -- 75.60 percent
Stuard, who won in New Orleans last season, has missed two cuts in 2016-2017 and finished T66 and T35 in the other two finishes. While I think he's unlikely to win, if you're in a league that requires good stats players Stuard is a smart choice on a golf course that rewards precision. He also ranks fourth in approach putt performance, a stat that addresses lagged putting.
Greens in Regulation: Lucas Glover -- 79.44 percent, see above
Also someone to watch in this area: Davis Love III. He's the host this week, and even though he missed much of 2016 due to injury, he finished T41 two weeks ago in his first start back in Las Vegas, ranking T15 in driving accuracy and 18th in strokes gained-off the tee.
Scrambling: George McNeill is the leader in this category, getting it up and down 76.19 percent of the time.
Scrambling is a key stat this week as there are chipping areas and other tight lies players will have to get up-and-down from if they miss the green. McNeill has only made one start this season, tying for 50th at the Sanderson Farms. With little to work off of, I don't recommend him.
Who do I recommend in this category? Try Kyle Stanley at just over 72 percent. He has a T22 and a seventh (along with a missed cut) to start his 2016-17 PGA Tour season and ranks seventh in strokes gained-off the tee and 16th in strokes gained-total.
Other notable players in the field include Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, defending champion Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, Harris English, Ernie Els, Wesley Bryan, Matt Jones, Jason Bohn, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Luke Donald, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Bill Haas, Billy Horschel, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson and Mark Wilson.
It'll be sunny all week with light winds and temperatures in the 70s Thursday-Saturday before cooler weather and some breezes Sunday.