One more week of PGA Tour golf awaits before the unofficial offseason break. The 2022-23 season has been underway, but the true time off is about to hit, and we won't have PGA Tour golf until January after this week.
Before the layoff, we have The RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club (the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course).
Let's dig into the course(s), the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside Course) Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,005 (short: ~210 yards shorter than the average par 70)
Fairway Width: 42.8 yards (73rd of 80 qualified courses)
Average Green Size: 7,200 square feet (~117% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Bermuda
Sea Island Golf Club (Plantation Course) Info & Key Stats
Event Info & Key Stats
Past 5 Winning Scores: -22, -19, -19, -19, -21
Past 5 Cut Lines: -3, -3, -4, -2, -3
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (Emphasis on driving Accuracy), Birdie or Better Rate, Adjusted Strokes Gained
Golfers will get a round at each course before a 36-hole cut and then finish at the Seaside course on the weekend.
We should give more weight to the Seaside course, which is a short par 70 with big greens and wide fairways. That's naturally a recipe for low winning scores.
Overall, this event rewards accuracy with the driver and with irons, and distance off the tee is mitigated. You'll see that play out when we go over the golfers with the best form at this setup.
Simplifying the key stats has worked well for me long-term, and I'm going to keep doing so. We need strokes gained: approach, some accuracy, and some birdie ability at a course where -20 is likely going to be needed to win.
If you want to get a little cuter, you can look at proximity from 100 to 150 yards, which is a pretty key area here.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past five years:
- Webb Simpson (+2.47: 8th, 37th, 2nd, 3rd, W/D)
- Zach Johnson (+1.72: 16th, 6th, 61st, 7th, 8th)
- Matthew NeSmith (+1.59: 29th, 15th, 14th)
- Will Gordon (+1.51: cut, 10th)
- Jason Day (+1.48: cut, 12th)
- Kevin Kisner (+1.45: cut, 2nd, cut, 7th, 4th)
- Justin Rose (+1.44: 12th, cut)
- John Huh (+1.32: 12th, 12th, cut, 37th)
- Vaughn Taylor (+1.21: cut, 30th, 10th, cut, 8th)
These lists comprise shorter hitters, which makes a lot of sense given the length of each course. Any time Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson are atop the strokes gained list, it's anyone's ball-game from a course fit standpoint.
Win Simulations for The RSM Classic
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for The RSM Classic
The heavy, heavy favorite in the simulations is Tony Finau (+800), which makes sense. My model has him closer to +900, so it's not like we're getting a ton of value here, but I can't fault anyone for backing the immense favorite at +800. That's still a decent return.
If not starting with Finau, then the model is showing value on Taylor Montgomery (+2900) as usual as well as Matt Kuchar (+4200) and Scott Stallings (+5000). I'm partial to Brian Harman (+2200) as a good course(s) fit and might go with him as well.
Long shots showing value include Ryan Armour (+12000), which makes sense in an accuracy-friendly setup. Adam Svensson (+15000) is popping as well if you're interested in partial-unit coverage to long shots.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for The RSM Classic
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Tony Finau (FanDuel Salary: $12,000 | Golf betting odds: +800) - There's nobody in the same tier as Finau this week, and the only thing we can really knock him for is that he's not an ideal course fit while a lot of golfers are bumped up the list. Added variance exists at a course that can let short hitters win, but that's seriously the only concern here. Finau ranks top-five in the field in strokes gained: off the tee, approach, and putting. He's 12th around the greens. His win equity is untouched by anyone else, and entirely fading him from a game theory standpoint is hard to justify unless you're banking on the odds he misses the cut.
Brian Harman ($11,500 | +2200) - Harman is a great golfer and one without any real weaknesses in his game. He ranks top-30 in all three strokes gained: tee to green stats and is a plus putter over the past 50 rounds. Harman also ranks 19th in driving accuracy in that span. Over the past five years at this event, Harman has finished 4th, 32nd, 14th, cut, and 61st. He was runner-up at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and also top-25 in his two other starts this season.
Others to Consider:
Taylor Montgomery ($10,900 | +2900) - Finally didn't finish top-15 in his sixth start this year (T57 last week) but should hit greens and have a chance to flex the elite putter.
Keith Mitchell ($10,800 | +2900) - Really accurate driver who putts well. Makes sense to join the winner list.
Denny McCarthy ($10,400 | +3500) - Ranks 5th in strokes gained: approach through putting so a dominant golfer if we down-weight driver.
Matt Kuchar ($9,900 | +4200) - Kuchar can still pop at courses that don't require distance, and neither of these does. Kuchar has finished T37 in consecutive years at this event leading in and has three top-30 results to start this PGA Tour season. He ranks third in strokes gained: approach through putting. If we are okay forgiving the lack of distance (116th) in favor of accuracy (21st), then Kuchar does all we want for this setup.
J.T. Poston ($9,200 | +5500) - Not long ago, Poston's form was red hot. It hasn't quite been there in recent weeks: cut, T20, T67, cut to start the PGA Tour season. However, Poston ranks 26th in strokes gained: approach, 34th in around-the-green, and 18th in putting. Poston makes more sense for tournaments than he does for cash games and double-ups, but the ceiling is still there based on the underlying data in the profile. Especially at this low salary.
Others to Consider:
Andrew Putnam ($9,800 | +4500) - Sticking with Putnam, who is 2nd in strokes gained: fairway through green and 9th in accuracy.
Aaron Rai ($9,600 | +5000) - 1st in accuracy and top 45 in all four strokes gained: stats. A high-floor play (if those exist in PGA DFS).
Taylor Moore ($9,300 | +6000) - Carried by a good short game, but that can work this week; three top-25s in five starts.
Russell Knox ($8,600 | +11000) - We want accurate driving, irons, and putting? Well, Knox has two of those. He's 26th in driving accuracy and 4th in strokes gained: approach. He ranks only 47th in putting (+0.11), but that's okay. He should see plenty of makeable putts, given his recipe of hitting fairways and greens.
Robby Shelton ($8,200 | +15000) - Shelton's salary is up $800 despite a solo 52nd last week, but that's all right because it's still a low salary. Shelton lost nearly a stroke per round on the greens, which is hard to envision doing again. He's ranked 55th in putting (gaining an average of 0.05 strokes there). Shelton is 13th in approach and 5th around the green. He also has three top-25 finishes in six starts to start the PGA Tour season.
Others to Consider:
Hayden Buckley ($9,000 | +7000) - Elite ball-striker (11th) for this field -- and accurate, too (13th).
Francesco Molinari ($8,800 | +9000) - Accurate (26th), decent irons (38th), great wedges (11th).
Ben Griffin ($8,600 | +10000) - T24, T60, T3, T59, T16 the past five events; 15th in T2G in his PGA Tour sample.