Steven’s Weekly PGA Primer: The RSM Classic
Last Week’s Picks Summation
Matt Kuchar began his comeback season with a victory since 2014 and after his pedestrian performance throughout last year by finishing 22-under to claim a one-stroke victory over Danny Lee and three strokes over Richy Werenski and J.J. Spaun.
My recommended picks went 5-for-5 for making the cut but were less than stellar unless you mixed in some of my other consideration picks that included the winner, Matt Kuchar and Scotty Piercy that finished T6.
Woodland was my highest salary pick and disappointed after a rough moving day. Woodland couldn’t shed the double bogeys and a triple bogey that clouded what was strong rounds overall. He tied for 41st.
Grillo had a solo 15th finish that concluded a strong tournament for Emiliano. Priced at $9,700, a 15th place finish wasn’t too bad of a return, especially if you had him rostered along with Kuchar, who was one of my consideration picks for his respective salary range at $8,400.
2017 RSM Classic Recap
Austin Cook prevailed here a year ago by four strokes after making birdie on three of his last four holes over J.J. Spaun. Brian Gay was five shots back with Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk, Andrew Landry, and Brian Harman tied for fourth seven shots back of Cook. Cook was the fifth player to have their first win on tour at the RSM Classic and also the fifth player to win the RSM in their first start.
Patton Kizzire failed to defend last week despite being in contention going into the weekend. We also saw Patrick Cantlay fall just short in his defense at the Shriners. Cook will face a weaker field this week, however, in his defense as he takes on names such as Webb Simpson, Brian Harman, Cameron Champ, Kevein Kisner, and Zach Johnson.
Tournament & Course Preview
The RSM Classic is unique in the fact that every golfer will play one of their first two rounds at the Plantation Course while, if they make the cut, their other three rounds will be played at the Seaside Course. The course has been described
Dates: November 15-18
Where: St. Simons Island, Georgia
Course: Sea Island GC (Seaside) and Sea Island GC (Plantation)
Designer: Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison (1929); redesign by Joe Lee (1973); redesign by Tom Fazio (1999)
Par/Yardage: Seaside- Par 70/7,005 yards; Plantation- Par 72/6,907 yards
Grass: TifWay and TifEagle Bermuda, overseeded with Poa and Bent
Field: 147, Top 70 and ties make the cut
Defending Champion: Austin Cook
Purse: $6,400,000 ($1,152,000 to the winner)
FedEx Cup Points: 500
Withdrawals: Ben Martin
OWGR: Golfers in the Field & OWGR Top 50
This chart gives you all that you need to know about the strength of this field this week. Last week wasn’t necessarily a strong filed either but it did sport nine golfers in the Top 50 including three in the Top 15. This week we have….three. Not always the most telling figure as far as projected finishes but does give you a good idea of the field as a whole.
If the weather does change for Thursday and rain chances increase, then you could learn towards golfers that are playing the Plantation course on Friday rather than Thursday when scoring conditions are more ideal.
Key Stats From Past Winners
Austin Cook, Mackenzie Hughes, and Kevin Kisner are the past three winners of the RSM Classic. There are several stats that stick out from their performances so I will be adding more weight to these stats when making my picks this week. Those stats are:
- Par-4 Scoring (400-450)
- Par-5 Scoring
- Bogey Avoidance
- Approach from 150-175
Last year Austin Cook finished 1st in Par-4 Scoring, 3rd in Par-5 Scoring, 2nd in Bogey Avoidance, T1 in Scrambling, 5th in BoB, and T2 in GIR. Pretty impressive numbers from Cook which is evident by his dominating 4-stroke win over the field.
Mackenzie Hughes had similar numbers, although not as impressive as Cook, but he did finish 5th in Par-4 Scoring, T8 in Par-5 Scoring, T5 in Bogey Avoidance, and 2nd in both BoB and Scrambling.
Keven Kisner, who prevailed here in 2015, holds the event record at -22 and was a statistical beast as he was 1st in BoB, 1st in Bogey Avoidance, 1st in Par-4 Scoring, 3rd in Scrambling, and T9 in in GIR.
Course History Targets
Recent Performance Targets
Before I even begin making picks I will break down the field into six tiers A-F. When you have fields of 100+ golfers then it can be overwhelming to scroll back-and-forth and up-and-down when making picks. DraftKings has an extremely useful tool where you can export the entire DK roster with salaries to a CSV and open in Excel which I would highly recommend and then break down the picks from there. For those of you that are technology-savvy, you can run a few macros to sort the excel sheet to your own preferences.
When I am assembling my lineups or placing my bets, I will look at just about every stat that I can while also looking at course history and recent performance. There are certain players that just perform well at certain courses. Webb Simpson at the Wyndham, Zach Johnson at the John Deere, Jordan Spieth at the Master’s, Bubba Watson at any course that he has won, etc. You also have to look at how players are performing leading up to the tournament. The other incalculable facet to weigh into your picks is the “gut feeling” that you have about a particular golfer. While considering various statistical categories gives you an immense advantage, there is no worse feeling than letting numbers and algorithms get in the way of the gut feeling and then have that golfer win.
Two other factors that I take into account are the OWGR and the betting odds. Vegas always knows something that you don’t, so when I see a golfer in the sub-8k range and see he has the same odds as golfers in the 9-10k range then he is someone that I have to consider. My following picks are based off relative pricing and I will aim to give you a few options from each tier to consider.
Cameron Champ— $10,900 (20/1, OWGR: 107)
I won’t blame anyone that wants to roster Webb Simpson this week given the weak field, Webb’s pedigree, and the way that he is absolutely popping in just about every statistical category. However, he is also priced $900 more than the next closest golfer, which brings me to Cameron Champ. Although I may not be rostering any of these plays above $10k this week, I do like Champ. Champ has already found the winner’s circle this year with his win at Sanderson Farms and in this field I wouldn’t be surprised if he was competing again come Sunday. Champ is 2nd in BoB gained and overall Birdies gained on the field. While his SG: Par-4 Scoring leaves some to be desired ranking 22nd, he does rank 7th in SG: Par-5 Scoring. Champ will get to play the Plantation Course on Thursday that gives him four Par-5s to take aim at. Real quick on an unrelated note, if you are betting on the first round leader then make sure to bet on those guys that are playing the Plantation Course—it is a short par 72 that the scorecard is showing is playing sub-7,000 yards where players will be shooting low. Champ also ranks 18th in proximity from 150-175 yards and 4th in SG: OTT. Pair his recent performance with his stats and I like Champ at a discount from Webb this week. Make sure you monitor Webb’s projected ownership, however, with Champ’s increased popularity Webb could be lower owned than my initial thoughts.
C.T. Pan—$9,700 (22/1, OWGR: 100)
C.T. just edges out my favorite play in the $9,000 salary over Russell Henley but I really like C.T. Pan this week at $9,700. He ranks 3rd in SG: Total, 7th in SG: App, 3rd in Par-4 Efficiency and 3rd in Par-4 from 400-450, 8th in Bogey Avoidance, 3rd in Birdies Gained, and 4th in BoB. Sure, his Par-5 Performance find him outside of the Top 20 in the field but with Plantation playing so short this year, that may not inhibit his ability to still score. C.T. also has T13 and T6 finishes here the last two years. I may build some of my lineups around Pan this week without hesitation.
Also Consider: Russell Henley—$9,500 (33/1, OWGR: 78)
Joaquin Niemann— $8,900 (40/1, OWGR: 149)
Averaging the third highest DK points in the $8,000 range, Niemann is also a strong play this week popping in my main statistical categories and is also in fine recent form with a T10 at the Shriners. He hasn’t played this course before but I wouldn’t let that keep you from rostering him as five winners at the RSM have been first timers on this course. Niemann is 1st in SG: APP, 3rd in BoB, 5th in Birdies Gained, 4th in Par-4 Efficiency and 9th in Par-4 Scoring from 400-450, 10th in Proximity and 6th in Proximity from 125-150 yards (second most common approach shot on this course after 150-175). We saw him compete against much bigger names last year so I expect him to be in the fold on Sunday.
Also Consider: Peter Uihlein—$8,300 (60/1, OWGR: 75) and Jamie Lovemark—$8,100 (55/1, OWGR: 138)
Keith Mitchell— $,7500 (80/1 OWGR: 141)
I wrote Keith Mitchell up last week and I am going back to him again. You will see plenty of narratives with him being a Sea Island resident but I also like the way that he is looking in the models. Mitchell won’t have to worry about driving accuracy as much this week since he will be able to club down but he can still let loose and score on the Par-5s on the Plantation Course as well. He is 17th in Birdies Gained, 20th in BoB, 15th in Proximity from 125-150, and 13th on Birdie Opportunities Gained. He played well last week before fading over the weekend but he does have upside, especially at this price.
Also Consider: Bronson Burgoon— $7,700 (80/1, OWGR: 109) and David Hearn— $7,200 (110/1, OWGR: 486)
Johnson Wagner—$7,100 (90/1, OWGR: 418)
Wagner hasn’t played since Sanderson Farms when he finished T35 and he also had a T17 here last year at the RSM Classic. Wagner does rank 4th in SG: Total, 6th in Bogey Avoidance, 7th in SG: Par-4s and 11th in SG: Par-4s from 400-450, 13th in SG: RG, and 1st in SG: Putting. Pretty solid stats from a guy priced at the bottom of the $7k range and another play that I like in this range this week.
Also Consider: Kevin Streelman—$7,000 (90/1, OWGR: 164)
Joel Dahmen— $6,900 (125/1, OWGR: 184)
Just like with Keith Mitchell, I am back on Joel Dahmen this week at basically the same price he was last week in a stronger field. He has made the cut in his last four starts, granted he hasn’t finished better than 26th but some of his stats are difficult to overlook. 8th in Proximity from 125-150, 25th in Proximity from 150-175, 15th in Par-5 Efficiency, 5th in Bogey Avoidance, 21st in BoB, 4th in SG: APP, 3rd in SG: T2G, 8th in SG: Total, and 6th in Birdie Opportunities. Not bad for a sub-$7,000 dart that does have upside and has been consistently making the cut.
Also Consider: Mackenzie Hughes— $6,800 (160/1, OWGR: ) and Trey Mullinax— $6,600 (150/1, OWGR: 229)
Brandon Harkins (125/1, OWGR: 250)
J.T. Poston (150/1, OWGR: 322)
David Lingmerth (200/1, OWGR: 298)
Written by: Steven Quezada