We have a new sponsor of sorts as McGladrey turns RSM, and the RSM Classic from Saint Simons Island will round out the PGA Tour 2015 calendar year. It's not the only change to the event as the Plantation Course at Sea Island resort joins the rotation. A full field of 156 players will play one round each on the Seaside course and Plantation courses before the former assumes full duties over the weekend. Low scoring is the order of the day on the Seaside course where many low rounds have been shot. Tommy Gainey- 251.0 - shot a round of 60 in the 2012 final round to win.
Bobby Wyatt - 251.0 - is a name you may hear a few times on the box this week and he has played many amateur tournaments here. He now resides in the area and is in the field through invitation. Wyatt hit a round of 61 here enroute to blitzing the 2014 SEC Championship field and claiming his first collegiate title. This is a guy who once shot 57 in an Alabama Boys Junior State Championship. Interestingly, Smylie Kaufman - 67.00 - was the man who finished runner-up to Wyatt at the SEC, just seven shots shy! Wyatt moved to the Sea Island area last year. First round leader alert.
Back to the big boys and Sea Island resort, or St. Simons Island, is a haven to a who's who of top golf pros these days. The island owns some of the best teaching and practicing facilities in the land and many pros have chosen to reside here and practice together in skins matches etc. Davis Love was the first man in, while marquee names like Zach Johnson - 15.00 - and Matt Kuchar - 21.00 - are neighbours. Fresh names and new men on the Sound include the likes of Patton Kizzire - 34.00, while course specialist Michael Thompson moved here this year, right next door to Scott Langley and Jonathan Byrd.
The courses(s) - Seaside course and Plantation
The Plantation course at Sea Island is a treelined Rees Jones' designed "Parkland by the sea" track and will host 18 holes of the event. 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. 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. Ball flight control and proximity into large greens averaging almost 7,000 square feet (some elevated) will be key.
Three from the pack
Sea Island resident Brian Harman - 51.00 or 11.00 - has started the 2015/16 season in decent form. A top 10 at the CIMB Classic was followed by a T40 at Mayakoba. In Malaysia his week included rounds of 63-66. Harman obviously knows the courses well and he owns a form line of 27-10-41 in three starts at the event. Brian would be known as a point to point type golfer but arguably his best weapon is the flat stick. He knows how to go low - famous for a 61 at the Honda Classic in 2012. He won the John Deere Classic in the 2013/14 season on a score of -22. Harman also excels at Harbour Town - a similar track to the Seaside course if we're looking for that type of angle.
Michael Thompson - 81.00 or 17.00 - is a course specialist at Sea Island and he likes the place so much, he's actually moved here a few months back. Michael was -13 through three rounds here in 2011 to lead going into the Sunday - one of those rounds being a 65 in strong winds. He eventually finished 3rd, and came back to post another top 10 the following year. Michael had a scoring average of 67 in eight rounds on the Seaside course before last year’s renewal, where he opened with a 65 for T1 after 18 holes. A poor final round cost him and this is the theme of late with Thompson. He's started fast in his last three events but faded which still has him under the radar. I listened to a recent interview with the Saint Simons Island resident though where he talks about his struggle in 2014 and his trip back to the Webcom qualifiers. He said he's benefiting from a new attitude and also talks about the skins games he's been playing in the area, and great practice facilities at Sea Island.
Fabien Gomez - 81.00 or 17.00 - is a very interesting selection this week off the back of a win in the Personal classic on the PGA Latino Tour. Gomez has shown significant durability in the past and first came prominently onto my radar when battling toe-to-toe with Scott Brown in the windy Puerto Rico Open a few years ago, eventually finishing second. He claimed his maiden win on the PGA Tour this year taking down a strong Fedex St. Jude Classic field. Gomez also has form at Sea Island with a top 10 in 2014. He enjoyed a great year which saw him qualify for the third playoff event. He started where he left off on the main tour with top 20s at the Frys and the Shriners.
Scott Langley - 201.0 or 41.00 - is now a next door neighbour of Thompson and is a player involved in the aforementioned skins games. He's actually been practicing from his base for the last few weeks: He's "checked out" the Plantation course and enjoyed practice with Jonathan Byrd and Josh Teater on the Seaside course. Langley is a self-confessed wind lover with a low penetrating ball flight. He shot to prominence at the gusty Sony Open in his rookie season with a T3 and posted the same number at the Valspar in 2104. Scott secured a top 25 on his debut here in 2013.