Fantasy Golf Picks, Odds, and Predictions for the 2017 RSM Classic
2017 RSM Classic Fantasy Preview
They say things come in threes, so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised that there was a maiden winner at the OHL Classic last week after Ryan Armour and Patrick Cantlay triumphed in the Sanderson Farms Championship and Shriners Open respectively.
And, in truth, the identity of Patton Kizzire as the champion was straightforward enough to observe: he had finished T10 and T4 in his prior pair of starts. A victory for Team Current Form over Team Course Form then, with Kizzire’s only other start at Mayakoba reading T58 in 2015.
The Alabaman deserves plenty of credit for keeping his cool during a frustrating weekend for all in the field. Stormy weather and high winds put paid to pretty much all of Saturday’s action, meaning Kizzire and playing partner Rickie Fowler had to play 36 holes on Sunday. It was a test of endurance, as much as anything else.
The good news for the players involved in this week’s event, the RSM Classic, is that the long-range forecast suggests no rain is likely on Georgia’s Sea Island (famous last words!). The wind could be up, but sunny and dry conditions will at least temper any fears of another Sunday slog-a-thon.
The theme so far during the wraparound season has been first-time winners, and that trend was followed here 12 months ago when the artist formerly known as Mackenzie Hughes – he’s just Mac now, for the record – prevailed in a crazy five-man play-off that spilled over into Monday.
Will we witness such bizarre scenes in Georgia in 2017?
Kevin Kisner of the United States plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 24, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Last Week’s Fantasy Results from the OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Last week we finished with six of seven picks making the cut with three of the picks finishing in the Top 9.
Our three cheapest picks Grillo, Ancer, and Stuard all banked solid fantasy points at dirt cheap prices. Our Top pick Pat Perez fell short of everyone’s expectations by finishing T34 but we still expect good things from Perez in 2018.
Patton Kizzire of the United States celebrates with the trophy on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on November 12, 2017 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
2017 RSM Classic Field
With the holidays on the horizon it’s perhaps no surprise to see a fairly thin field present itself this week.
The headliner is arguably the 2015 RSM Classic winner Kevin Kisner, although Ryder Cupper and British Open runner-up Matt Kuchar might have something to say about that.
Si-Woo Kim, Charles Howell III, Scott Brown, and Russell Knox tee up on the back of top-10 finishes in Mexico, while Brandt Snedeker makes his long-awaited return following complications surrounding a wrist injury.
There are a number of local boys in the field this week too – the likes of Zach Johnson, Brian Harman, Hudson Swafford, and Davis Love III are all St. Simon’s Island natives – but as we’ll discover later in this preview that is not necessarily a precursor to a strong week out on the course.
Zach Johnson of the United States plays his shot from the sixth tee during the second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on November 10, 2017 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
This Week’s Course Preview
The RSM Classic is played at the Sea Island Resort, with the players alternating across the two host courses – the Seaside and the Plantation – on Thursday/Friday, before the cut is made and the final 36 holes are played on the Seaside stretch.
The Seaside layout is described as ‘Links by the sea’, and measures 7,055 yards for its Par 70. It is located right on the southern-most tip of St. Simon’s Island, and as such the players will occasionally be buffeted by those strong coastal winds. The greens here – as they are on the Plantation Course – are Bermuda.
As you would expect from a Par 70, Seaside plays a touch more difficult than the Par 72 Plantation, which is natural given that the latter boasts four easy Par 5s. The Seaside course only offers one ‘gimme’ hole, the Par 5 fifteenth, which played at a stroke average of 4.52 here 12 months ago (including a dozen eagles made).
Indeed, eight holes averaged over par but it’s only really the fourteenth that gives the players nightmares: a 442-yard Par 4, drives not aimed far enough left will ensure approaches are blocked off by the mighty oak trees that hover in the players’ eye-line. With high winds a factor, the marshland surrounding the green is a familiar spot to play from here.
The Plantation course is a rather more intriguing proposition. It’s four Par 5s all played under par last year as you would expect, with a pair of those coming at sixteen and eighteen for an entertaining run-in to the clubhouse.
Given its yardage – 7,058 yards for its Par 72 – and its slightly further in-land locale, you might think that Plantation is a doddle, and it’s true that it provides the players with some enjoyable respite from the Seaside layout. But beware: nine of the holes played at a stroke average of over par last year, with the 452-yard Par 4 tenth witnessing 44 scores of bogey or worse compared to just 13 birdies. It is wise not to rest on your laurels at this parkland-inspired venue.
For reference, here’s how the top-9 finishers (there was a whole bunch of ties at T10!) at last year’s RSM Classic played the two courses on the opening two days:
- Mac Hughes – Seaside (-9), Plantation (-5)
- Blayne Barber – Seaside (-7), Plantation (-4)
- Billy Horschel – Seaside (-4), Plantation (-6)
- Henrik Norlander – Plantation (-5), Seaside (-3)
- Camilo Villegas – Plantation (-6), Seaside (-4)
- Jim Furyk – Seaside (-6), Plantation (-3)
- Jamie Lovemark – Seaside (-3), Plantation (-6)
- Cheng Tsung Pan – Plantation (-6), Seaside (-6)
- Ollie Schneiderjans – Seaside (-4), Plantation (-4)
Weather Forecast for Sea Island, Georgia
Conditions look set to be near perfect for good golf this week.
It’s sunny in Georgia but not too hot, with highs of around 75 degrees, and precipitation set to be at a minimum – there’s a 10% chance of rain on Saturday and 0% on the other three days, according to the forecast.
Due to the hosts’ location it is impossible to truly escape the wind, with 8-10 mph gusts forecast on Thursday/Friday and 13 mph at the weekend. At the localized level, these are likely to be stronger too of course, so the Seaside Course at the weekend could prove quite tricky.
Last Year’s Results from the RSM Classic
Mac Hughes opened up with a round of 61 last year – and he didn’t look back from that point on.
The Canadian followed up with a 67 at Plantation to assert his dominance over nearest challengers Cheng Tsung Pan, Blayne Barber, Chad Campbell, Chesson Hadley, and local favorite Hudson Swafford.
The field applied some pressure, with Camilo Villegas firing a Moving Day 64 to rocket up to second the leaderboard, with Hughes mustering 68-69 on the weekend to book his way into the five-man play-off against Villegas, Barber, Billy Horschel, and Henrik Norlander.
Horschel’s bogey on the replayed 18th saw him eliminated at the first time of asking, while pars for the rest – and again when they played the eighteenth for a second time – kept the play-off alive.
They moved onto the Par 3 17th at the Seaside Course, where Hughes’ par was, incredibly, good enough to take the spoils with Villegas, Barber and Norlander all missing regulation putts from inside 10ft to draw level.
It was a bizarre way for the Canadian to rack up a first PGA Title in his rookie year!
Where to Play Fantasy Golf for the RSM Classic
We’re into the dying embers of the wrap around campaign, and so time is short as far as winning big this year is concerned. Perhaps the RSM Classic will provide the platform for a handsome win?
- PGA $100k Pressure Putt: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Time is running out in 2017 to trouser a big payday, so if you have $400 in your account why not try this contest. Only 277 entrants will battle it out for the $20k top prize.
- PGA $8k Albatross: We do like these single-entry contests, and this $12 buy-in offers the chance to win a cool $1k against your fellow 783 players. The top 150 double their money as a minimum.
This Week’s Fantasy Notes for the RSM Classic
Occasionally, drafting a winning roster in rotational course events is difficult – there are draw biases to factor in, as well as all of the other variables that go into picking a successful team.
The good news as far as the RSM Classic is concerned is that the Plantation course is utilized for just 25% of the action, and if you check the hole averages it doesn’t play all that dissimilar to the Seaside course despite their differing Pars.
At least we can have some confidence than that we aren’t going to be stitched up a draw bias, and instead we can draft our line-up based on purely golfing matters.
Mac Hughes’ win in 2016 was rather unusual, in that he didn’t play particularly well from tee to green but scrambled well and putted exceptionally; ranking sixth for Strokes Gained: Putting and first for Putting Average.
That wasn’t necessarily the model to follow though, with the likes of Blayne Barber and Henrik Norlander excellent from tee to green and putting serviceably.
The point, perhaps, is that the greens are fairly easy to find on this short, non-taxing layout, so the ideal profile is somebody who can knock their approaches close in proximity and then putt well from inside 10ft on these fair Bermudagrass greens.
The ‘local boy’ angle is one pursuing occasionally on the PGA TOUR, although we’re getting some mixed messages this week. Georgia Tech graduates Kevin Kisner and Chris Kirk are former champions here, but then St. Simon’s Island natives like Zach Johnson (MC-MC-MC-16-49-MC), Brandt Snedeker (45-MC-32), and Brian Harman (MC-MC-41-10) have hardly covered themselves in glory on home soil.
Handily, there are some excellent correlating courses to consider. A couple of coastal Par 70s straight off the bat – the Sony Open, at Waialae, and the St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind – spring to mind because they are also played on Bermuda.
And then of course there’s the RBC Heritage, played at the Harbour Town Links course in neighboring South Carolina, plus the Honda Classic from PGA National, which has witnessed a stack of correlating performances with the RSM – too any to mention, in fact.
This is, in essence, a putting contest, but it’s one that can be won by hitting your ball consistently closer to the hole than your opponents. It’s just like any other week, then!
Our Top 5 (and Top 2 Sleeper) Fantasy Picks and Odds to Win the RSM Classic
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Fantasy Golf Predictions This Season (2017-2018)
Total Top 3s
Total Top 10s
Total Top 25s
Total Winners Picked
Total Runners-Up Picked
Total Made Cuts (Includes Sleepers)
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