This week we are in Sea Island, Georgia for the RSM Classic. Formerly the McGladrey Classic, this event which changed it’s title sponsor 12 months ago also changed its setup slightly. The event is now played over two courses for the first 36 holes, the Plantation Course and the Seaside Course.
The last two weeks we have seen two somewhat unlikely winners. Rod Pampling won two weeks ago, whilst Pat Perez won last night. Pampling, won his third PGA Tour title, 10 years since his last. Similarly, Perez won his second PGA Tour title, 7 years after his first win. Perez spent the majority of the 2015-16 season out with an injured shoulder. In three events since returning, Perez has finished T33, T7 and 1st.
Seaside Course: The Seaside Course is the course predominantly used here and until last year was the sole course for the previous five renewals. As a result this is the one to focus your attention on. This 7,005 yard, Par 70 is a Coastal Course, which demands accuracy over distance. With this being a short course, it is the wind and hazards that will act as the courses’ defence.
Plantation Course: Last year, Kevin Kisner became the first player to get anywhere near the -20 (-22) mark in this event’s history. His winning score was in so small part down to the 65 he shot in round 1 at this course. This course is just 53 yards longer than its neighbour course. More importantly though this is a par 72 as opposed to par 70. Players will look to take advantage and score well in their one round here.
Last year at the RSM Classic
Kevin Chappell shot -16 here last year when finishing six shots adrift of a dominant Kisner. Given that Chappell’s score would have won four of the five previous renewals, scoring obviously improved last season. This may be down to the introduction of the two course system, so expect scoring to be similar this week.
The six-shot victory by Kisner was the first win by more than a one-stroke margin in the event’s history. Two of the six renewals have also gone to play-off.
No St. Simons resident has ever won the RSM Classic, so there’s no need to put your eggs in the “home favourite” basket this week. Chris Kirk and Kevin Kisner, two former winners are part-time residents here, but Davis Love III’s T4 in 2012 was the best attempt of a full-time resident.
With all this and much more in mind, here are my bets for the 2016 RSM Classic.
Kevin Chappell 28/1 (StanJames)
Chappell is up there in terms of the “best player in the world without a win”. With this in mind, I thought Chappell was worth a second look at a course he finished 2nd at last year.
He may not have won a PGA Tour title yet, but he has come mighty close and it looks a case of when, not if.
In four attempts here, Chappell has got progressively better, finishing 43rd, 32nd and 8th before his 2nd here in 2015.
Chappell has not missed a cut since the Travelers Championship in August and also has two top-10’s in that span. In the FedEx Cup play-offs, Chappell finished T31 at the Barclays, T8 at the Deustche Bank, T61 at the BMW Championship and last but not least 2nd at the Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy denied both Chappell and Ryan Moore in a play-off to take the season-ending trophy. That was Chappell’s fourth 2nd place finish of the season, so he’s due a win.
He’s finished 45th and 35th in his first two events of this season, but he can dramatically improve here. 28/1 is short enough for someone still looking for their first win, but he clearly has immense quality, and this looks like the perfect chance for him to get a win under his belt.
Jamie Lovemark 80/1 (Ladbrokes &SkyBet)
Lovemark has had a steady start to the 2016/17 season, and he will look to build on that this week.
On his RSM debut last year, Lovemark posted a top-10 (9th) and hopefully that can be bettered this week. He finished 35th last week in Mexico making 16 birdies in the process.
After a rough spell towards the end of last season, Lovemark has missed just one of last seven cuts, which came in Vegas two weeks ago.
Lovemark’s top-10 here last year was one of five on the season and he will be looking to rediscover some of that stellar play.
Whilst he has not finished better than 20th in his four events so far this season, there have been some promising signs and given his effort here last season there’s a good chance he can perform well here again.
Scott Brown 150/1 (Coral & StanJames)
Brown, who was born in Augusta, Georgia clearly likes playing in his home state. In four efforts at the RSM/McGladrey Classic, Brown has managed three top-20’s.
Brown has played twice so far in this new season missing a cut before finishing 55th last week. This isn’t exactly inspiring, but a return to a course he clearly loves may be what he needs to kick-start the season.
A second-round 72 last year killed Brown’s chances of contending last year, but he followed that up with a 65-69 on the weekend. After opening with a 67, Brown finished the week -9. If he can eliminate that average round he can contend here, just like he did in 2013 when finishing 4th.
At 150/1 Brown looks decent value. He is coming off the back of a 2015/16 season which saw him post a joint career-high four top-10’s. Brown has a PGA Tour title to his name already (2013 Puerto Rico Open) and he can add to it, when returning to his birth-state this week.