Our golf scribe takes a look at this week's PGA Tour event, the RSM Classic. The first day's play gets underway on Thursday 17 November.
Formerly known as the McGladrey Classic, Davis Love III hosts this year’s RSM Classic in Georgia. The victorious Ryder Cup captain has managed to entice three of his team members to join the field this week, with Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar leading an interesting field. Vice-captain Jim Furyk also competes following a disappointing comeback in Mexico last week. The tournament will be split over two links-style courses, with players alternating between the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course over the first two days, before playing the weekend on the Seaside Course.
With that in mind, all of my statistical analysis will be in reference to the Seaside Course. Three of the four rounds will be played there, including the all-important final two rounds. Kevin Kisner broke the 72 hole course record last season en route to a trailblazing six shot victory over perennial silver medallist Kevin Chappell. It’s amazing just how many of the players competing actually live in and around this idyllic piece of Georgia. Matt Kuchar, Harris English, Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson and Patton Kizzire are amongst a slew of players who have properties in neighbouring St Simon’s Island.
I wouldn’t look too dogmatically at the local hero angle though as no resident has managed to ever capture this title. Both courses are relatively short, with Seaside Course boasting twelve par 4’s. Putting could be hugely important this week as statistics reveal that approximately 75% of approach shots here land on the green. Players may have to contend with a stiff ocean breeze, particularly on the Seaside course which doesn’t have the same tree protection of Plantation.
The RSM Classic | Thursday 17 November - Sunday 20 November | Sea Island Golf Club, Georgia- Seaside Course and Plantation Course
2015: Kevin Kisner (-22) | 2014: Robert Streb (-14)*playoff | 2013: Chris Kirk (-14) | 2012: Tommy Gainey (-16) | 2011: Ben Crane (-15)*playoff
To Win Outright
Chris Kirk 14/1 | Matt Kuchar 18/1 | Brandt Snedeker 18/1 | Kevin Chappell 22/1 | Bill Haas 28/1
Patton Kizzire: To Win 66/1 & To Place 14/1
Patton Kizzire is perhaps my strangest decision, especially giving the fact that he is still yet to register his first PGA Tour victory. He enjoyed an excellent start to the season, with Brendan Steele managing to beat him by one stroke en route to the Safeway Open in California. He missed the next 2 cuts, but took a break when the Tour ventured to Mexico and should be refreshed going into this week’s tournament. He is my hometown hero this week, having actually been married here a year ago. He is my wildcard to place and have an all-round decent tournament.
Lucas Glover: To Win 35/1 & To Place 7/1
Lucas Glover enjoys the reputation of being something of a Bermuda-grass specialist, exemplified in his fifth-placed finish at Sanderson Farms: he also finished third at the Shriner’s, showing his application on the bentgrass greens. He should be well suited to the testing Bermuda grass that the players face this week. He is a player who makes lots of birdies on par 4’s and has made four out of five cuts here. That streak includes two top 15’s which included a ninth-place last year. His hot form and course familiarity should stand him in good stead this week.
Charles Howell III: To Win 35/1 & To Place 7/1
Charles Howell III is perhaps one of the most underrated guys on the tour. He has 80 top 10 finishes in his career, three of which have been at this event. He was excellent in Mexico last week, racking up a highly respectable tie for 7th. He also finished in a tie for 15th at the Shriners. He has never missed a cut here in ten appearances, and although his putting statistics leave some pause for concern, I think that the man with the golden swing could stand a decent chance of finishing up the leader-board.
The Man to Beat
Chris Kirk: To Win (14/1) & To Place 3/1
The bookies favourite, Kirk still looks a decent price at 14/1 considering the variables at play. He is in exceptional form, with three top ten’s in four starts thus far, including a tie for second at Sanderson Farms. He is a previous champion here, exploiting Briny Baird’s painful meltdown in 2013. He also possesses another top 5 at this tournament, along with two other top 20 finishes. Furthermore- granted it’s a limited sample size thus far- his stats for the season match up perfectly for the course. He is 10th thus far in shots gained with the short blade and is seventh in par 4 scoring. Expect Kirk to go far this week.