Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they select a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the RSM Classic based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their golf odds.
We head to Sea Island, Georgia for our first split course event of the season, with golfers splitting their first two rounds between the Plantation and Seaside Courses before cut-makers play the tougher of the two, Seaside, twice more over the weekend. We can expect plenty of scoring; each of the last five years has seen winning scores of 19-under or lower.
Further ramping up the variance is the weak field on hand here in the final full-field event of the year, led by Brian Harman (+1800) at the top of the board. Sea Island belongs to a select few venues where the value of mashing the ball a long distance is less important than accuracy. Golfers will have some wind to contend with -- especially over the weekend at the gustier of the tracks.
So, all in all, it's a pretty tough slate to handicap, but a wider distribution of potential outcomes means most of the value is in long shots. Our final card of the year will throw a few darts and try to smash a big payday to close out 2022.
For more info on the Plantation and Seaside Courses at Sea Island Golf Club, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out Brandon Gdula's primer.
Aaron Rai (+5000) - The Englishman had one of his best PGA results last week, finishing T7 at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. Over the course of his career, he's won on the DP World Tour, Asian Tour, and Challenge Tour, including most notably the 2020 Scottish Open. His overseas experience means a little wind won't intimidate him, and he was quite comfortable last year in his Sea Island debut, breaking par each day and finishing T16.
He ranks 25th in driving accuracy across the PGA Tour so far this season and was 16th in his rookie campaign last year. Against a field light on star power, Rai's game sets up nicely this week. A 50-to-1 payout makes him an easy choice in this range.
Brendon Todd (+5000) - Long one of the Tour's most accurate drivers, Todd's early season shows some potential for a big week. He's just 31st in accuracy so far through 18 measured rounds but holds top-10 finishes each of the last three seasons, including 1st on the entire PGA Tour in 2020-21.
He was fourth here in November 2019, and he arrives in decent form so far this swing season. He finished inside the top 10 at the Fortinet Championship and THE CJ CUP in South Carolina, and he's clearly making enough birdies to keep pace with projected scoring. Todd is 17th in birdie average overall so far this season, and most encouragingly, he's 10th in birdie-or-better rate on par 4s -- and one of the only golfers in the top 15 with a real sample size.
Sepp Straka (+7000) - Straka is available at this price thanks to a few disastrous starts, but he's been in two playoffs in the last three months and could easily be at the top of this field had a few balls rolled his way. Straka is 28th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which is the second highest in this field behind the favorite Harman. The upside is worth a shot at this number even at a course where he's missed the cut in three of four tries. Not many options in this field qualified for the TOUR Championship last year -- let alone in this range.
Austin Cook (+14000) - Cook was 18th in driving accuracy last season, and he's reliably in the top decile in accuracy year in and year out. He's not much of a finisher but does have at least one top 20 in each of his five PGA Tour seasons, including T11 here in Fall 2018 and an outright here in November 2017.
Cook's made small progress so far this season, starting with three straight missed cuts before T44 in Bermuda and back-to-back T27's in Mexico and Houston. The accurate driver, great history, and overall game headed in the right direction make Cook a great bet at 140-to-1. His history of finding a decent week every fall so far in his career puts him on our radar for a Top 20 Finish (+650).
Jim Herman (+42000) - If we're getting crazy with longshots, we have to finish with Herman at this huge number. This will be his eighth straight visit to Sea Island, and he's made the cut in all but one event and has two top-20 finishes. He is routinely in the top 15 in driving accuracy on the entire tour, and he's a three-time winner on tour. Most recently in 2020, he won at the Wyndham Championship -- another track where short, accurate hitters thrive.