Betting market and overview
It's the final stop of the regular PGA Tour season for 2016 as we hit Sea Island resort and ST. Simons Island for the RSM Classic. This is the second year under the new sponsor that took over from McGladrey. Sea Island is a temporary or permanent base for a large percentage of PGA Tour pros and many train at the Golf Performance Centre there. I count over 20 guys in the field with strong connections to the area, led by former resident, 2013 McGladrey Classic winner, and betting favourite, Chris Kirk - 15.00. Kevin Kisner - 29.00 - was a temporary islander and his form the last three years at Sea Island reads 20-4-1. He blitzed the field with closing back to back 64s over the weekend in 2015 to claim his maiden victory on the main Tour.
The marquee names such as Matt Kuchar - 17.00 - and Zach Johnson - 34.00 - have permanent residence on the Island, neighbouring host Davis Love, while Brandt Snedeker - 26.00 - has a condo on the Sound and trains from the Performance Centre. Looking at the championship form line of these guys, they may be worth taking on and this could simply be due to the time of year this competition falls and lack of recent competitive action for some. Expect a few big names up atop the leaderboard come Sunday though.
The courses - Plantation and Seaside (Sea Island Resort)
Like last year the easy Plantation Course at the Sea Island resort joins the rotation over the first 36 holes. The track is described as a tree-lined Rees Jones' designed "Parkland course by the sea". It boasts "expansive fairways" and plays to a par 72 just 7,058 yards in length. The host Seaside course plays circa 7,000 yards to a par of just 70 and when conditions are benign, quite simply, it's a birdie fest so go low or go home if the sea breeze is down.
Yes, low scoring is the order of the day on the Seaside course where many blue numbers have been collated. Tommy Gainey holds the course record (60). Seaside, as you may have guessed, is a links style track that rewards accuracy over power. Shot making is at a premium - especially when winds blow - and a hot flat stick is a prerequisite on high quality greens. Five of the top six and ties in the 2015 edition excel in the putting department. Ball flight control and proximity into large greens averaging almost 7,000 square feet (some elevated) will be key at the Seaside course.
RSM Classic Best Bet
Patton Kizzire is one of the newest residents on the Islands here and came extremely close to his maiden win earlier in the fall series when just eclipsed by Brendan Steele at the Safeway Open. Two missed cuts ensued and he's a hard man to get right. Kizzire though has been back home for a couple of weeks, and with the benefit of the home course knowledge, he looks a play at 61.00 or 13.00. I'm following a local connection theme this week and also have one eye on the putting stats for my main bet. Patton was 19th in strokes gained putting and 13th in putting average on his first full PGA Tour year in 2015. Good friend Smylie Kaufman - also with connections to the Island (SECs) - has described him in the past as the best putter he's seen.
Ones to watch
A number of Webdotcom grads have links to ST. Simons Island. JT Poston resides there. The likes of Seamus Power, Rick Lamb and Trey Mullinax all use the Performance Centre on Sea Island but I'm going with small bets on the following outsiders, mainly in the sub markets....
Bobby Wyatt - 19.00 for a top 10 - now resides in the area and trains in the centre. Wyatt is known for going low as an amateur and hit a round of 61 on the Seaside course en route to blitzing the 2014 SEC Championship field and claiming his first collegiate title. That event is held every year at Sea Island. Wyatt once shot 57 in an Alabama Boys Junior State Championship. Bobby gave us a glimpse of what he can do on the main tour when challenging strongly at the Zurich classic, posting a closing 64 at a weather disrupted event. He finished T4 but had the lead during the back 9.
Scott Langley - 21.00 for a top 10 - has been back on the Island practicing for the RSM Classic for a few weeks according to his Twitter updates. He is a next door neighbour of Seaside course specialist Michael Thompson (15.00 for a top 10) and plays regular skins games with the likes of Thompson, Jonathan Byrd (also a neighbour) and Josh Teater. Langley may have his best chance if the wind gets up given his low penetrating ball flight. He shot to prominence at the gusty Sony Open in his rookie season. He hasn't done much since a top 15 at the Wyndham Championship but has decent event form reading 33-mc-22.