Can Finau ever be called T2 Tony ever again…
Last week was a bit of a kick in the teeth for me; having Tony Finau on the wrong week is really annoying. In hindsight, I should have waited an extra week for him to get his eye in, and that is what makes the week just gone even worse. Not to mention this contest was basically over on Friday, big tone has become an animal, and I don’t think he will ever be called the bridesmaid ever again. As I mentioned last Tuesday, the numbers should have been around -15 for a winning score; Finau was -13 after two rounds; there is just nothing anyone could do to compete with that.
On a positive note, I saw some excellent signs again with some of the golfers mentioned in last week’s preview, which gives me much more enthusiasm and promise for this week and into next year. Jason Day’s numbers continue to rise, Montgomery still looks like being the rookie of the year, and my each way play on Thompson was not far away; I will keep the theme of sticking to the models and keeping it simple moving into this week, especially with it being the last main PGA event of the year.
Over to Sea Island, let’s attack this.
I was going to start this week saying it’s a tough week to pick out some value, mainly because of how good Tony Finau is; however, as we speak, he has withdrawn through injury, and we really can attack this week and find someone who suits everything about this place.
An excellent way to start my preview regarding the location is to mention that this course is on the doorstep of many players in the field this week. The likes of Bird, English, Griffin, Harman, Nesmith, Higgo, Johnson, Kuchar, Mitchell, Mullinax, Sigg, and Davis Love III, all live in and around this course; this, I feel is important as it is comfortable for these players and with exemptions and lots of FedEx points on offer it’s a tournament that would have been lined up for a while to gain a significant advantage before the big hitters return early next year.
The RSM Classic is played over two courses, with the plantation course next door being played once across one of the first two days. It’s worth pointing out that although both courses represent a similar test, or for that matter another birdie fest, the Plantation course is a par 72 (extra 2 shots to par) and therefore, with two extra par 5’s, I expect it will be much easier to score on.
The seaside course, where we should put our main focus because all players will have 3 rounds on there, is redesigned by Tom Fazio and is a coastal links type of course. It will be cold and wet on two days, and no doubt hold a stiff breeze at times across the weekend.
Both courses are around 7,000 yards which are short, so I don’t think that will impact players much in terms of length. Like we had two weeks ago, I expect most players here will have wedges into greens.
Bermudagrass putting surfaces here are the main focus. The greens are pretty challenging, as any putt within 10 feet is testing and difficult to read. The key to the RSM Classic is pounding greens in regulation and strong Bermudagrass putting, and therefore I believe proximity to the hole and avoiding bogeys are key here.
RSM Classic Winners: 2021: Talor Gooch (-22); 2020: Robert Streb (-19), 2019: Tyler Duncan (-19); 2018: Charles Howell III (-19); 2017: Austin Cook (-21); 2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17); 2015: Kevin Kisner (-22); 2014: Robert Streb (-14); 2013: Chris Kirk (-14); 2012: Tommy Gainey (-16); 2011: Ben Crane (-16); 2010: Heath Slocum (-14).
Simple models this week
My model this week is going to be simple. I don’t expect the winner to be outside the top 10 in putting. The TifEagle Bermudagrass greens are not to every player’s liking, and conversion of putts from anything outside of 10 feet is tough, so I expect this week’s model to be able to narrow down not only the best putters but also the right putting strokes. The greens are not that small, and once again, as we had two weeks ago, fairways and greens in regulation are just going to put you in all the right places here, and it’s as simple as that for me this week.
I expect the winning score this week to be nearer -25 than -15, so birdie or better percentages is a fundamental key component here; I don’t want to be tipping up anyone who can’t reach a low score. I also don’t want to be tipping up anyone who doesn’t like a stiff breeze or wants to fight with this Sea Island course; we got to find some players with some experience and who are comfortable in this change of environment.
So to emphasise what I am looking for here, I want the best players who are just great at dialling it into greens with wedges in hand, very good at putting compared to the rest of the field and have had this event pencilled in the calendar for a while to take advantage of the fall season.
• Event Experience
• Last Few Tournament’s form
• SG Approach
• SG Tee to Green
• Bermuda Positive
• SG Putting
• Proximity to hole
• Birdie or Better %
Here is how that model looks for Top 25, along with their average betting odds;
1. Brian Harman 25/1
2. Tom Hoge 30/1
3. Webb Simpson 40/1
4. Brendon Todd 50/1
5. Andrew Putnam 55/1
6. Brian Gay 250/1
7. Joel Dahmen 33/1
8. Seamus Power 22/1
9. Jason Day 30/1
10. Patrick Rodgers 45/1
11. Denny McCarthy 33/1
12. Tony Finau 10/1
13. David Lingmerth 175/1
14. Troy Merritt 66/1
15. Luke List 80/1
16. Kevin Kisner 50/1
17. Matt Kuchar 45/1
18. Sam Ryder 110/1
19. Harris English 50/1
20. J.J Spaun 50/1
21. Kevin Streelman 160/1
22. Justin Rose 60/1
23. William Gordon 55/1
24. Vaughn Taylor 250/1
25. Mackenzie Hughes 40/1
Breaking it down and where my tips come from…
Many tipsters this week will have some big cross doubles to try and gain some value on Rory McIlroy, who, is almost guaranteed to come in the top 3 over in Dubai. My preview of which, by the way will be published tomorrow. But with Tony Finau now out, we can find a winner here at much bigger odds than expected.
For a change, I’m going to work backwards. I want to start with Akshay Bhatia; he came through Monday Qualifiers I noticed this morning for this tournament with a 52 at the course, and I really liked some of his game in the summer and at these shorter courses, someone to have a look at definitely at a huge price. Also, Brian Gay, another one at this course who has had some really low rounds and both these players coming in at 250/1, is appealing.
I think it’s essential to look at some players putting in the right numbers and having some excellent recent form. Players like Tyson Alexander, who last week had a top 3, Justin Lower, who has had some recent top 10’s and Austin Cook, who is definitely playing way better than anyone thought he would and amazingly has a win at this very event. These are all players at big odds. I expect to have big weeks.
Around the 100/1 mark, I also like players here that tend to play well in the fall season, mentions of names like Mullinax, Kizzire, and Buckley, all players that I tend to always associate with being good in lesser fields, another set of players worth focusing on.
As I’m putting much more emphasis on putting this week, I feel like I have to include one of two of the best putters in the field. These two are either Denny McCarthy or Brendon Todd. Both of which gain so many strokes on the green. I tend actually to prefer Todd this week, maybe that’s because I included Denny last week in my tips, but Todd, for me, has a much better approach game and when it counts, I see Todd making a lot less bogey’s than McCarthy might do.
Someone else that has massively improved with the putter I like is Mackenzie Hughes, he had a recent win on tour and less mistakes recently, I feel like it could be a week to capitalise on his odds in actually a lesser field than when he won a month or so ago.
Tom Hoge is another one this week; I can’t not mention; he is by far one of the best with a wedge in his hand, and if he can put 4 rounds together like he has done in the past, he is someone that could run away with this. My only reservation with Hoge this week will now be his price since Finau has dropped out; 20/1 may be a bit short for me.
Matthew Nesmith sticks out on all the models this week, someone I can see shooting like a -23, he’s done that before for sure, and his stats on approach into greens is so good you can’t ignore him. Another popping on all the models is Andrew Putnam, someone I don’t see getting as many birdies as Nesmith, mainly because his driving is off key, but a play on a top finish for him in a small field like this might be a great option for you.
Other notables in good form I like are; Will Gordon, playing the golf of his life, Matt Kuchar, who suits this course like a duck to water and Harris English, who with links to this course and location, is real pull at 50/1, all of which will be on the radar for me this week even if I don’t bet them.
There is one man that I bet in Houston that is getting another go on my tip sheet this week, and that is Davis Thompson. Thompson is really progressive as I said last week, he hits the ball so straight and accurate, and if it wasn’t for his around the green game in Houston, he would have made me a lot of money. I’m trusting Davis again, and I think we can cash in on him before these fields fill up with all the big names. Not to mention that his Dad is the commissioner for this tournament and he is bound to get a great draw for Day 1 and 2 here.
This week’s Tips
Keith Mitchell – 28/1 (2pts Win)
Brendon Todd – 55/1 (1pt Win)
Davis Thompson – 90/1 (0.5ew) 6 places
Justin Lower – 100/1 (0.5ew) 6 places
Brian Gay – 16/1 (Top 10) 1pt
Ashkay Bhatia – 10/1 (Top 20) 1pt