The RSM Classic
It was a decent week of profit for us in Mexio with a full place pay out on JJ Spaun and a share of the places on Scott Piercy to show for our efforts.
The only disappointment on the week was that our trader Carlos Ortiz was unable to build on his good first round and after struggling to a second round 72 he missed the cut.
So as the 2018 PGA Tour calendar year draws to a close we have reached the final full field event of the season, The RSM Classic.
Beyond this I will be previewing Tiger’s Hero World Challenge at the end of November, after which we get a chance to recharge the batteries before we go again in Hawaii in January.
The RSM classic debuted on the PGA Tour in 2010.
For its earlier years the event was known as the McGladrey Classic. This changed in 2015 when the title sponsor changed to RSM.
Since its outset it has been played at the Sea Island club on St Simons Island in Georgia, an area which is home to several PGA Tour players.
Players based in the area who are in this weeks field include Z Johnson, C Kirk, K Kisner, P Kizzire, B Harman, D Love III, K Mitchell, JT Poston, H Swafford, T Mullinax & J Garber.
Since 2015 the event has been played across two courses with the second course being The Plantation Course.
Each player plays one round on each course over the first two days with all players then playing the Seaside course in rounds 3 and 4.
The field this week in all honesty isn’t a hugely strong one with Players Champion Webb Simpson heading up the betting market. He is then followed by Cameron Champ and the in form JJ Spaun.
The Seaside course is a par 70 measuring just over 7000yds.
The greens are TiffDwarf Bermuda.
The course initially opened in 1929 and was designed by Harry Colt & Charles Alison.
It then underwent a redesign in the hands of Tom Fazio in 1998.
The course is a true links course whose only real defence is the wind.
The Plantation course is a Par 72 measuring just over 7050 yards.
It was designed by Walter Travis in 1926 before undergoing a Rees Jones redesign in 1998.
The greens are again TiffDwarf Bermuda.
The Plantation course has more of a tree lined feel to it than the wide open links of the Seaside course.
Both courses have wider than average fairways and assuming the wind is not strong they offer up plenty of birdie opportunities.
With three reachable par 5s the Plantation course is statistically the easier of the two,
So lets take a look at the winners of the event since its inception in 2010.
2017 – A Cook
2016 – M Hughes
2015 – K Kisner
2014 – R Streb
2013 – C Kirk
2012 – T Gainey
2011 – B Crane
2010 – H Slocum
Looking at this list of players its easy to see straight away that this event is the domain of players who are shorter hitters, who when on song find fairways & greens with regularity and hole more than their fair share of putts.
This is backed up by the fact that the likes of Spaun, Gay, Harman, Furyk & Cejka have also performed well here over the past few years.
Of these eight winners five of them, [including the last four] Cook, Hughes, Kisner, Streb & Gainey were clinching their first PGA Tour wins here so don’t be afraid to back a player this week who is winless on tour to date.
It’s also worth noting that none of the winners had won previously on tour in that calendar year.
From a point of course correlation the obvious events that you would see as tying in with this week are the RBC Heritage, The Sony Open and TPC.
Lets now take a look at the recent form of these past winners coming in to the week.
2017 - A Cook 50 20 25
2016 - M Hughes MC 68 26
2015 - K Kisner 2 37 25
2014 – R Streb 10 31 9
2013 – C Kirk 25 36 24
2012 – T Gainey MC 66 38
2011 – B Crane MC 10 51
2010 – H Slocum 45 50 65
As we can see from the above really strong recent form coming in to the event is clearly not a key factor. In fact the eight winners of this event since its inception have only mustered four top 10 finishes between them in their previous collective twenty four starts coming in to the week!
Equally though between them these past eight winners had only missed three cuts in their previous twenty four events so it would be fair to say that these winners had been playing reasonably well and ticking along steadily until the big week came along where everything clicked.
In relation to previous course form I am afraid that this doesn’t appear to offer too many historical clues either.
Three of the last four winners, Cook, Hughes and Streb were all making their debuts here the year they won, as was Crane when the tournament was in its second year [and of course Slocum when it was first played].
Gainey had played once previously and missed the cut.
This leaves us with Kisner and Kirk. Kirk had played here three times prior to winning and had gone 15 MC 64.
Kisner did however have some previous here as he had finished 4th the year before he won and 20th the year prior to that.
All in all though as we can see past course form has never been hugely relevant.
Finally allowing for the fact that the area is home to several PGA tour players I felt it worth looking at whether their have been past winners of the event with local connections.
The answer to this is that no winner has been based permanently in the area however three players who either hail from Georgia, or who are based there, in the form of Slocum, Kirk & Kisner have won here.
In addition we have had players either based in or hailing from Texas, The Carolina’s, Florida & Arkansas get the job done, showing that this event would appear to be the domain of ‘southern states’ players.
So to sum up we are looking most likely for a shorter hitter with southern states connections, whose form has been ticking along over recent weeks and who, when on song is known as an accurate tee to green player and strong putter!
From a winning score point of view we have had four editions of the event since it has been played on two separate courses and the winning total over this time has ranged from -18 to -24.
With the exception of some possible showers on Thursday at the time of writing we look set for a dry week during the tournament days.
There is however a likelihood of some rain and storms in the build up to the event meaning we will most likely see a soft golf course come Thursday leading to low scoring.
Wind could be a slight issue on Thursday & Friday with gusts of 10-15mph possible however this should settle down over the weekend.
It is worth noting though that the current forecast for Wednesday is for 30-40mph winds and if the forecast for any reason proved slightly out and it lingered on in to Thursday the first round would be a very different story!
I would therefore expect that low scoring will again be the order of the day.
As I always say though…this could all change!
I have gone with six players this week as follows;
CT PAN – 30 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED MC
The player who grabs my attention the most this week is a player who featured on our six to follow list for 2018 back at the start of the year, CT Pan.
CT is a former No 1 amateur player in the world who has been progressing steadily on the PGA Tour since he joined the ranks fully in the 16/17 season.
Pan kept his card comfortably in his first full year on tour and in doing so he notched three top 10 finishes including a 6th place here at the RSM.
Based on his really solid all round game I was expecting CT to push on and win last season, hence his inclusion in our ‘six to follow’ for the year however this hasn’t happened.
In all honesty the first half of the 17/18 season was fairly disappointing from CT and his best finish up to the end of June was again here at Sea Island, where he finished 13th.
In the second half of the year though things clicked for the University of Washington grad as he made seven straight cuts from the end of June through to the Dell Technologies in August, before bowing out of the play offs the following week.
During this run Pan came very close to notching his maiden tour win at the Wyndham Championship before a poor tee shot in the 72nd hole put paid to his chances and consigned him to 2nd place.
CT’s 18/19 season has begun with four straight top 30 finishes including a 16th place last weekend in Mexico and he must now arrive at a venue, which he has clearly enjoyed over the past two seasons in a confident mood.
In addition to CT’s two strong performances here what strikes me about his CV on tour to date in relation to this week is that he seems to really enjoy his golf on coastal courses.
This is born out by the fact that he has notched a top 25 at Hilton Head, a top 20 at the Honda and most noticeably a 2nd place finish at the Farmers in his two seasons to date on tour.
Short of the tee Pan’s strength is finding fairways and greens with great regularity and he finished last season 13th in DA and 6th in GIR. It is therefore no surprise he has performed well here as he is exactly the sort of player who thrives at this venue.
My one slight concern is that as noted above past winners here have tended to have links if not with Georgia, to other southern states in the US, and this is not the case with CT.
However as one of his best performances to date on tour came on Bermuda greens at the Wyndham and as of course CT has shown a liking for Sea Island on his two previous visits I am willing to overlook that.
All in all Pan is a winner waiting to happen and on a course, which has seen four consecutive PGA Tour maidens taste success for the first time I am confident CT can add his name to that list this week.
JASON DUFNER – 90 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
In a field short of elite players and proven winners I am more than happy to take a chance on the former PGA Champion Jason Dufner this week at the prices on offer.
Dufner’s 2018/19 season has started much as his 17/18 one finished, fairly poorly, however last weekend when finishing 21st in Mexico he notched his best finish on tour since his 5th place finish at TPC Sawgrass last May.
What was particularly noteworthy about Jason’s week at El Cameleon was the way he finished on Sunday with a round of 64, which included six birdies on his back nine including five straight.
As we all know golf, particularly at the top level, is a game of ‘fractions’ between a player finishing 50th one week and being right in the hunt next and we saw exactly this with Kuch only last weekend, who stated that he had “hit the ball great” in Vegas the week before when finishing way down the field.
It’s therefore quite possible that Duf found something on Sunday that he can carry forward to this week.
As well as his play last weekend one other thing I do like about Jason this week is the fact that he has produced some solid results over recent years on courses that correlate nicely with this week.
This includes his 5th place at TPC Sawgrass, Top 15s at Hilton Head, The Honda, The Valspar, The Open Championship and the Wyndham, and a two top 20s at the Sony.
In addition he finished 9th here on his only previous visit in 2015.
The nemesis of course with Jason is the putter and the concern has to be in this area, and whether he can hole enough in a low scoring event like this, however he putted solidly last week in Mexico and he showed when winning the CareerBuilder Challenge back in 2016 that when he gets hot he has what it takes to win a low scoring birdie fest.
All in all Jason is a proven winner who has shown a liking for this type of track in the past and I am therefore more than happy to chance him this week at the prices on offer.
ANDERS ALBERTSON – 80-1 – 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 15th
I mentioned earlier that players with connections in Georgia have a really solid record in this event over recent years and the one Georgia based player who catches my eye this week is rookie Anders Albertson.
The 25yr old has so far made a fairly seamless transition from the web.com tour to the PGA Tour making three out of four cuts.
Three weeks ago he did us a huge favour when finishing 5th on the Bermuda at the Sanderson Farms event, thus landing us a nice juicy each way pay out.
This has been followed by a couple of solid if unspectacular weeks in Vegas and Mexico, however back now on the bermuda in his adopted home state of Georgia I can see him pushing on again.
Albertson arrived on the PGA Tour on the back of a really solid season on the web.com tour which saw him notch a win at the Lincoln Land Championship.
Befitting for a player who missed only three cuts in twenty three starts in the Web.com season Anders’ stats were incredibly solid throughout the year and he finished the season 1st in the Scoring Average, 5th in putting and 17th in GIR.
Trawling through the internet I have unfortunately been unable to find any great connection between Anders and the Sea Island area/course however he did Monday qualify to play here in 2016 when he finished 74th with an MDF.
I am sure in addition to this the Georgia Tech grad will have had plenty of other opportunities to play the courses that face them this week and I am confident that his neat and tidy game will be well suited to the challenge on offer and I can see a big week for him ahead.
BUD CAULEY – 50 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED MC
Next up for us this week is Jacksonville resident Bud Cauley.
It’s hard to believe that its been a full seven years since Bud first came out on tour and notched five top 25 finishes to earn himself a PGA Tour card, but this is indeed the case.
Since then it has been a case of ups and downs for the 28yr old, but as of yet he has not yet notched a PGA Tour win.
To be fair to Bud he has had more than his fair share of injuries and the latest major set back came in June of this year when after missing the cut at the Memorial he was involved in a serious car accident, which resulted in him suffering a broken leg, five broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
The fact that barely five months later Bud is now back on tour is a testament to his strong will and what is even more extraordinary is that he seems to have hit the ground running on his return with three really solid performances including a 10th place finish at the Shriners.
In his time on tour Bud has made six visits to Sea Island notching three top 20 finishes so this is clearly a course that suits his game.
He has also performed well at other correlating courses over the years such as Hilton Head and Sedgefield.
After competing in his first event back at the Safeway Cauley said about the accident that “It changed my perspective on a lot of things, on just how fragile life can be. One minute everything is fine, and the next you're worrying about the rest of your life and not being able to do something that I've always loved and assumed I'd be doing forever. I definitely don't take that for granted."
Obviously Cauley has gone through an incredibly difficult period and it is quite possible now that with a new perspective on life he can push on and notch that first PGA tour win this week on a course that undoubtedly suits his game.
DENNY McCARTHY – 50 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 46th
For my fifth selection this week I am going to side with Maryland native and Florida resident Denny McCarthy.
It was a tough debut season on the PGA Tour for the standout amateur, which lead to him needing to take a trip to the web.com finals to retain his PGA Tour card.
This he achieved in spectacular fashion with a win at the Web.com Tour Championship on the Jacksonville coast line.
Since then McCarthy has continued the good work with three made cuts in four starts in the new 18/19 season including 7th place last time he teed it up on the Bermuda at the Sanderson Farms.
Known as a demon putter Denny is the type of player who could produce the goods in a birdie fest and I am keen to have him on side this week.
JONAS BLIXT – 250 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED MC
For my final selection in a full field event of 2018 I am going to look to sign off in style by throwing a dart at Swede Jonas Blixt at a massive price.
Apart from his out of the blue victory in the Zurich pairs event alongside Cam Smith in 2017 it has been a grim few years for Jonas with his last solo victory on tour coming back in 2013 at the Greenbrier.
It is just as well Jonas has an exemption as a result of the pairs win as otherwise 2017/18 would have seen him lose his card.
There have however been a few signs of life of late with firstly two made cuts to finish the 17/18 season followed by three cuts out of four made to start of the new campaign.
Last weekend at the Mayakoba Blixt really sprung in to life with a second round of 63 putting him right in the hunt.
Unfortunately he fell away badly then on Saturday however the round on Friday was certainly another sign that he’s not too far away.
I mentioned earlier that this event can become a bit of a putting contest at times and there aren’t many better in that department than the Swede.
One other point I like about Blixt this week is whilst he has never really produced the goods here he has certainly played well on similar courses in the past and by far, and away his best result of the last campaign was his 14th place finish at Hilton Head.
At his best Blixt is a tough competitor and a proven winner and there has been enough of a chink of light in his play of late to chance him at the fancy prices on offer.
UPDATED 14th NOVEMBER
TRADER - OLLIE SCHNEIDERJANS FINISHED 74th - LOWEST PRICE TRADED 42
For this weeks trader I have chosen to go with the former Georgia Tech man Ollie Schneiderjans.
Ollie burst on to the pro circuit in the second half of 2015 after a standout amateur career, which saw him become the No 1 ranked amateur player in the world and finish 12th in the Open Championship.
In his first full year on the Web.com tour he notched a victory in the Air Capital Classic to help secure his full PGA Tour card and it seemed at this stage only a matter of time until his first PGA Tour win came along.
Since then however despite comfortably keeping his card in both of his first two seasons on tour Ollie has struggled with consistency and although he has posted eight top 10 finishes to date he is yet to get over the line.
In addition to Ollie having the obvious Georgia connections this week what makes him of particular interest to me at Sea Island is that the vast majority of his best form has come in similar shorter and/or coastal tracks.
This can be seen by the fact that he finished 6th here at Sea Island two years ago and that he has finished 3rd at the Heritage, 2nd at the Wyndham, 7th at the Sony and 9th at the Farmers.
In addition as already mentioned Ollie finished 12th at the Open Championship as an amateur back in 2015.
There's no denying that Ollie's form of late has been poor and this of course is the reason he is available at the price he is this week, however as I say consistency is his problem and his 6th place here two years ago came on the back of three consecutive missed cuts whilst his 3rd in the same year at the Heritage came after he had gone MC 34 MC 48 in his previous four starts.
In a nutshell Ollie will win eventually and more than likely out of the blue on this type of course and on that basis I am happy to roll the dice with him this week as our trader at the prices on offer.
I should finish by adding that unfortunately liquidity is not great on the exchange this week in this event, however Ollie has been mostly matched around the 230-250 mark to date so hopefully this price will continue to be available through the day.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 250