This article is part of our DraftKings PGA DFS Picks series.
THE RSM CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.512M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Courses: Seaside (primary) and Plantation at Sea Island Golf Club
Yardage: 7,005 Seaside/7,060 Plantation
2022 champion: Adam Svensson
This is it. Finally. The longest season in PGA Tour history is coming to an end. Some 15 months and 55 (!) tournaments after the 2022-23 season started with the Fortinet Championship back in September 2022, The RSM Classic puts a lid on things this week. Along the way, there have been two Fortinets, two RSMs and a few other two-fers. For sure, Noah's Ark had nothing on the PGA Tour.
All that was necessitated by the Tour transitioning from the wraparound season that began a decade ago back to a strict calendar format. The 2024 season will begin in January and end presumably in November and presumably with the RSM Classic. The Tour has not released the FedEx Cup Fall portion of the schedule, but it likely will be just as critical to the players as this seven-event fall slate has been.
The fight to get into top-125 in the FedEx Cup point standings, normally finalized at the Wyndham Championship before the playoffs, has continued the past three months. Come Sunday night (or Friday night, for those less fortunate), the fates of everyone still not exempt for 2024 will be determined. To that end, every golfer currently from 117th to 140th in the point standings is entered, as are all but one from 144th to 170th -- those guys are try to stay inside or get inside another critical demarcation, the 126-150 category (the one missing is No. 153 Will Zalatoris, who has been injured most of the year and is exempt for 2024 anyway).
Also to be finalized is the so-called Next 10, golfers from 51st to 60th in the point standings who would qualify for the first two Signature events of 2024. Current Nos. 52 to 64 are also on hand this week.
So you can see how much is at stake at the annual Davis Love III-hosted event. Love has always been able to bring in a decent field, especially considering The RSM usually falls the week before Thanksgiving, thanks to his pull with the heavy Georgia contingent on Tour, specifically those connected to St. Simons Island. Eleven of the top-50 in the world rankings and 31 of the top-100 highlight this 156-man field, including some golfers we haven't seen or barely seen since August.
At the top of the list is someone we've seen often the past few months. That's star-in-the-making Ludvig Aberg. Otherwise, the top OWGR guys are Brian Harman, Cameron Young, Russell Henley, Corey Conners, Harris English and Denny McCarthy. Only Young has played a Tour event since the Tour Championship, and he's played only one. Others of note include Nicolai Hojgaard, Akshay Bhatia, Billy Horschel, Padraig Harrington, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson, defending champion Adam Svensson and, in his first start since the Ryder Cup, Zach Johnson. And also Love himself, at age 59, will try to give it a go.
Some youngsters in the field are worth keeping an eye on. Fred Biondi has turned pro after winning the NCAA Division I individual championship at Florida, Ben Carr was the 2023 U.S. Amateur runner-up out of Georgia Southern and David and Maxwell Ford are twins playing for the University of North Carolina (actually, they are two-thirds of triplets with a sister). Davis ranked fifth and Maxwell 30th in the world amateur rankings.
Golfers will play the Seaside and Plantation courses once each over the first two days before sticking to Seaside for the final two rounds. Both courses are incredibly short, especially Plantation considering it's a par-72.
Seaside dates to 1929 with a Tom Fazio renovation in 1999. It is a links-style, oceanfront par-70 with wide fairways -- averaging 47 feet in the landing areas -- and big Bermudagrass greens, averaging 7,200 square feet. There are only two par-5s. Of the 12 par-4s, nine of them are under 430 yards. Driver will not be needed much. There is water on 13 holes. The golfers will often be hitting irons off the tee and wedges to the green. Really, the key to success this week will be from the fairway on in. Wind is the course's biggest defense.
Plantation is more of a parkland-style track more protected from the elements than Seaside with lots of trees. Four years ago it reopened after a complete yearlong overhaul by Love and his design company. We won't focus heavily on Plantation, since the course is used for just one round. The greens also are Bermudagrass though smaller than Seaside, averaging only 6,100 square feet. There is water on 10 holes. The fairways are still pretty wide, averaging 43 yards in the landing areas, according to the official Golf Course Superintendents fact sheet.
As for the weather, yes, we're in for some weather. Rainy and windy conditions are in the forecast for Thursday, abating only somewhat on Friday. Check before the lock to see the latest, but if those conditions remain, you might wanted to downgrade golfers who play Seaside on Thursday. Plantation is more inland and shielded. A chance of rain will continue through Saturday and the wind will incrementally subside on the weekend. High temperatures will be around 70 all four days.
Key Stats to Winning at Seaside
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: Tee-to-Green
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards
• Approaches from 125-150 yards
• Birdie or Better Percentage
2022 - Adam Svensson
2021 - Talor Gooch
2020 - Robert Streb
2019 - Tyler Duncan
2018 - Charles Howell III
2017 - Austin Cook
2016 - Mackenzie Hughes
2015 - Kevin Kisner
2014 - Robert Streb
2013 - Chris Kirk
Let's not even talk tee balls. Let's start from the fairway, the wide fairways of Seaside. Svensson won last year at 19-under while averaging only 277 yards off the tee -- not even in the top-50 in the field in driving distance. He was fifth in fairways hit and fourth in greens in regulation. Combine that with fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green and first in SG: Putting, and that's a great recipe to win a golf tournament. Svensson beat Brian Harman, Sahith Theegala and Callum Tarren by two strokes. Two years ago, Gooch won by three shots over 2016 champ Hughes and four over Sebastian Munoz. None of them averaged 300 off the tee or were especially accurate, but all three ranked in the top-five in the field in both Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green. Those two stats tend to dominate here. Duncan was fourth in GIR the year he won, Howell was first and Cook was second. In looking at what golfers have said about the tournament in past years, quite a few of them say that experience matters, that the greens are tricky and fast (13 on the Stimpmeter on Seaside). Maybe so, but five of the 12 champions won the tournament in their first visit -- Cook, Hughes, Streb, Ben Crane in 2011 and Heath Slocum in 2010 (obviously Slocum, because that was the maiden RSM). The past five winners had played the tournament before. The over/under on the winning score at golfodds.com is 262.5 -- 19.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Picks were made before tee times were announced. As mentioned above, the weather forecast right now suggests guys who play Seaside on Thursday might be on the harder side of the draw.
Tier 1 Values
Brian Harman - $10,300 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1800)
We could make an argument to avoid all the $10,000s and most of the $9,000s. Many of them have been idle for months. As for the betting favorite, Aberg, wedge play may be the weakest part of his game. Since we promise golfers in all price ranges, we'll provide an abridged Tier 1 and start with Harmon, a Georgia guy who plays this tournament every year and lives on St. Simons Island. He was one of the runner-ups a year ago, but hasn't had many other good RSM results. That's a surprise, since he's a perfect fit for the courses. Harman last played at the Ryder Cup early last month.
Russell Henley - $9,700 (+1600)
Another Georgia guy, Henley closed the summer portion of the schedule on fire. He was second at the Wyndham, then added top-10s in the first two playoff events before a T13 at the Tour Championship. The thing is, that's the last time he played, about three months ago. He had a string of RSM finishes in the teens in the 2010s but not this decade. Henley ranks No. 1 in our model, which encompasses a golfer's past 24 rounds -- so he's an excellent fit. Except Henley's past 24 rounds extend back into June.
Tier 2 Values
Eric Cole - $9,000 (+3000)
In reality, we wouldn't pay for any golfer priced higher than Cole, who could anchor a fully balanced DFS lineup. Cole, who's Rookie of the Year candidacy will end triumphantly after the season ends on Sunday, has three top-5 showings in the fall tournaments alone. He leads the field in birdie or better percentage over his past 24 rounds.
Brendon Todd - $8,500 (+4000)
Once again, when wedge play is critical, we'll turn to Todd. After two months off, he tied for 20th in Bermuda last week. Todd ranks top-6 in the field over his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Putting, par-4 400-450 and proximity from 100-125 yards.
Luke List - $8,300 (+6000)
List has had a terrific fall season, highlighted by his win at the Sanderson Farms. But he has three other top-25s. Naturally, his numbers over his past 24 rounds will be superb and he lands at No. 7 overall in our model. He tied for 10th at The RSM two years ago and for fourth in 2018.
Akshay Bhatia - $8,100 (+5000)
Like we said last week, Bhatia is not a good putter but still somehow manages to get it done with the rest of his game, even in birdie-fests such as The RSM. He's coming off a top-10 and two top-25s in his past three starts. Despite being only 21 and without a full year on Tour, he's played in two prior RSMs, making the cut last year.
J.J. Spaun - $8,000 (+4500)
Spaun sits inside the Next 10 at No. 59 and we expect him to still be there come Sunday night. He's finished top-16 here the past two years and was runner-up back in 2017. He's finished top-12 in two of his four fall starts. Spaun ranks second in our model in greens in regulation over his past 24 rounds and third in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Tier 3 Values
Chris Kirk - $7,900 (+4500)
The DraftKings bookmakers think more highly of Kirk than the DFS guys do. Us too. He's only 40-1, equal to or less than most of the $8,000s listed above. Kirk won this tournament a decade ago and has two other top-5s. He ended a long break with a missed cut two weeks ago, but just getting back into action, even for two rounds, will benefit him immensely this week.
Davis Thompson - $7,800 (+5500)
Thompson ranks No. 1 in our model in greens in regulation over his past 24 rounds, eighth in par-4 400-450 efficiency and eighth overall. He has two top-20s during the fall season and no result worse than 35th in four starts.
Taylor Pendrith - $7,600 (+4000)
Like Kirk, Pendrith seems underpriced -- we're not complaining. His current form and course history dovetail perfectly this week. He's finished 8-15-3 his past three starts. He also was 15th at The RSM last year and 26th the year before. Pendrith is ranked 26th on Tour in greens in regulation for the season and, as we noted at the top, it's been a loooong season.
Adam Schenk - $7,400 (+6000)
Schenk has played sporadically in the fall -- just two tournaments -- but at least he's kept semi-busy. He's one of the top guys in this field and to see him ranked in the lower $7,000s seems like a good buying opportunity. Schenk is ranked 40th on the season in SG: Total, and even better in SG: Putting. He had a number of close calls during the season; to see him pick off his maiden Tour win would not be much of a surprise.
Sam Ryder - $7,200 (+9000)
Ryder's forte is ball-striking. He's made eight straight cuts extending back to the summer and is coming off a tie for 10th in Mexico two weeks ago. That has moved him to the precarious position of 60th in the point standings, the final spot in the Next 10. Ryder is ranked in the top-10 over his past 24 rounds in multiple key stats, including first overall in SG: Approach.
Carson Young - $6,900 (+15000)
Young has had a top-10 and a top-20 during the fall season, along with two missed cuts. The top-10, a tie for ninth in Mexico, came last time out. We're not a big fan of many $6,000s this week, but our model does place Young well inside the cut line.
Greyson Sigg - $6,900 (+15000)
Sigg is completing his second year on Tour and will be back for a third, as he sits 111th in points heading into this final week. He ranks in the top-100 on Tour in every strokes-gained category, meaning he's above average in all of them. He's also not great in any of them. The Georgia alum tied for 15th here a year ago.
Justin Lower - $6,900 (+18000)
Lower might be one of the few players who doesn't want this eternal season to end. He had a rough patch through the summer months and into the fall season, but he is now coming off consecutive top-25s. He's ranked 33rd on Tour for the season in SG: Putting and lately his iron play has caught up. He's ranked top-15 in our model over his past 24 rounds in SG: Approach, proximity from 100-125 yards and par- 400-450 efficiency.
Doc Redman - $6,500 (+30000)
Redman finished top-25 in The RSM four years ago, when it looked like his career might be blossoming. Instead, it's done a complete 180. Now languishing in the 400s OWGR, Redman has shown a bit of life lately. He's made three of this past four cuts, including T13 last week at Bermuda. If you don't have even $6,500 left to spend for a sixth guy, we'll offer one more dirt-cheap pick: Jim Herman, at $6,000 (+250000), has made seven of his past eight cuts at The RSM.
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