Sea Island Resort: Seaside Course Par 70, 7,005 Yards
Sea Island Resort: Plantation Course Par 72, 6,907 Yards
Defending Champion: Austin Cook (-21) by four over J.J. Spaun
Primary Stats- SG: Tee-to-Green, GIR, SG: Approach, DK Points, Birdies or Better, 3-Putt Avoidance, Par 4 SG: 400-450 Yards
Timeframe: Past 24 Rounds unless specified.
The final points event of 2018 takes place in Sea Island, Georgia; home to many professional golfers. The RSM Classic gives a brief preview of what we will see come January and February: multiple courses being used the first two days. The Seaside Course will be used Saturday and Sunday, while each player gets one round on Seaside and Plantation before the cut is made.
I'll be honest: I don't know what changed, but the past couple of years here have seen cuts go from even or over par to -5 and -6. That's the cut number. This is why I'll be looking at birdies or better heavily. I may also be wrong on this but this is the only event that has a Par 72 under 7,000 yards. Scoring should be plentiful this week at the RSM.
It's not a strong field, with only a few bigger names playing. So I think we will have to get used to paying up for names that we usually pay 7000-7900 for. I will be a little cautious on the stats this week, since we've had four events in the Fall Swing (last week and the 3 Asian Swing events) that didn't have shot tracker. While I use 24 rounds as my base, this could be extending back into July for some golfers. I still think there is useful information with it; it's just not as strong as other times of the year.
Finally, this is it until the Tournament of Champions the first week of January. I may do a brief write-up for the 18-man Hero World Challenge in a couple of weeks, if DraftKings offers contests for it. However, I'm going to take this break to finish out football and start working on getting ready for 2019. Thank you to everyone for reading this all year, whether you read every article I wrote, subscribed to the golf package this year, or if you read one article. I greatly appreciate it and am always open to discussion and suggestions for things you would like to see.
A couple of reasons for this: None of the four jump out statistically or with course history. Webb is 9th in my stat model, but too expensive. The other issue is that I don't see a lot of value in the 6k range, making me want to go more balanced. J.J. Spaun was 3rd last week and 2nd here last year. I expect him to be quite popular, and while Spaun is a possible first time winner this year, he has disappointed when chalk before.
Others I May Consider: None
C.T. Pan (9,700)
C.T. Pan at 9,700 feels really expensive, and it is. But, he fits everything I'm looking at. In two appearances here, he has finished 6th and 13th. His four starts in the Fall Swing: 30th, 23rd, 22nd, and 16th. He also hasn't missed a cut since late June. Pan rates #1 in my stat model, ranking in the Top 10 in every stat except 3-Putt Avoidance. I'm hoping people don't want to pay this high price on him. However, if he does get a lot of buzz (20% range), I may fade at that ownership. (GPP, Cash Game Playable)
Zach Johnson (9,000)
Since I didn't write up anyone in the 10k range, I'll include a second golfer here. On New Year's Eve last year, Johnson wanted people to ask him questions. I decided to ask what his favorite tournament to play outside of the majors and John Deere Classic were. The RSM was one of two tournaments he mentioned (https://twitter.com/ZachJohnsonPGA/status/947623095979954181). He's had mixed results recently here, with an 8th, 16th, 75th, and two missed cuts. ZJ missed last week, but four double bogeys is very uncharacteristic of him. Nothing stands out statistically on him (27th in Par 4 SG: 400-450 and 28th in DK Points). I'm relying on some class here and him liking this tournament to play well, as he's a better golfer than a lot of ones priced above him. (GPP, Cash Game Playable)
Others I May Consider: Kevin Kisner (Gained 43 strokes here past five years)
Joaquin Niemann (8,900)
I know, I write about him every week it seems. But in a week where we don't have the strongest field, I'm going to look at pedigreed players, and Niemann fits the mold. In shot tracker events, Niemann has only lost strokes on approach twice this year. His issue is the putter, which is a slight concern with three-putt avoidance. He ranks 2nd in Tee-to-Green and 8th in Approach. Niemann may not be the best cash game play, but his immense talent in this field could be enough for him to get his first win. (GPP)
Others I May Consider: Harold Varner III, Chris Kirk (Only behind Kisner in Strokes Gained in this event the past five years), Jim Furyk
Anders Albertson (7,300)
Albertson has had a nice start to his PGA Tour career, after graduating from the web.com Tour last season. Albertson has made his last three cuts, which includes a 5th. He didn't have his best week last week with only 14 birdies, but had no double bogies. Albertson did have 20+ birdies the two tournaments prior to this. In a short sample, Albertson ranks 6th in Approach, 9th in Tee-to-Green, and his worst stat is 49th in 3-Putt Avoidance. The form is decent and his ability to make birdies is enough for me to take a chance on him this week. (Cash and GPP)
Others I May Consider: Patrick Rodgers, Richy Werenski, Bill Haas, Stewart Cink, Brian Gay, Johnson Wagner, Hudson Swafford
Stephen Jaeger (6,800)
Jaeger is someone who has intrigued me since he graduated from the web.com Tour after the 2017 season. He hasn't done much since coming up, only having three Top 20 finishes. But, maybe he has figured something out as two of those Top 20s have been in his last three events. He hasn't been making a lot of bogeys either, which I think is a good sign for a young golfer. Jaeger is 4th in GIR and 11th Tee-to-Green, with his weakness being 3-Putt Avoidance. He's not a safe play by any means (who really is below 7k this week), but with a 29th here last year and flashing some form, I'll take a chance for a Top 30 or better at this price. (GPP)
Others I May Consider: Robert Garrigus, J.T. Poston
I'm thinking of more of a balanced lineup. As much as I like Pan, I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up with Zach Johnson as my highest priced golfer. Good luck this week, enjoy the holiday season, and I'll see you back here in January for the Tournament of Champions.