This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
The RSM Classic
Sea Island Resort (Seaside 7,005 yards, par 70 – Plantation 7,058 yards, par 72)
$1,152,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
SAINT SIMONS ISLAND, GA – The PGA Tour's final official event of the calendar year is this week's RSM Classic - doubling as the last opportunity to win and receive an invite to the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January 2019. The attractive Sea Island Resort has hosted the past eight editions of this event, but only the last three have incorporated both a 156-player field and a rotation between the host Seaside course and Plantation course. Three of four rounds are held at the demanding Seaside course, a par-70 links layout, while the forested par-72 Plantation course hosts one round prior to the 36-hole cut. At least a dozen entrants are permanent residents to Saint Simons Island – including tournament host and World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III – but none have ever won the event. Look for plenty of scoring and a possible runaway champion to emerge like it has in two of the last three years as the Tour closes the calendar year.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Austin Cook
2016 – Mackenzie Hughes
2015 – Kevin Kisner
2014 – Robert Streb
2013 – Chris Kirk
2012 – Tommy Gainey
2011 – Ben Crane
2010 – Heath Slocum
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda greens (or strong ties to the Southeastern U.S.)
• Par 4 Scoring average
Much like last week's Mayakoba Classic, the shorter Seaside and Plantation courses mute the advantage of driving distance – instead favoring accuracy as the key factor. Putting the ball in position off the tee is paramount since nearly 20 percent of player's scoring advantage can be traced back to Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. Compare this to a 15 percent rate at a typical PGA Tour event and you can see why driving the ball well is critical. Another significant aspect is Strokes Gained: Putting, especially on the tricky Bermuda greens native to the Southeast. Current residents of the island, former SEC conference alums, and past entrants at this event have enjoyed the advantage of knowing this course, so seek to include guys with course knowledge or a knack for Bermuda. Though no permanent resident has won here in eight editions, there's a clear correlation between strong play at this course and a player's propensity to put well on Bermuda greens.
FanDuel Value Picks
Webb Simpson, $12200 – Simpson is 6-for-6 in made cuts at Sea Island, with three top-15s including a runner-up in 2011. Simpson is indisputably the most polished player in the field and his 10 percent odds to win are significantly above the next highest player at 5 percent. He's a no-brainer this week.
Cameron Champ, $11400 – Champ is quickly becoming not just a long-hitting legend but a regular contender, notching a top-35 finish in four of his past five starts. His win proved he's an up-and-coming star; if he drives it as accurately as he does far this week, he could easily contend on the links-style layout.
CT Pan, $10400 – The 26-year-old Chinese star is an elite ball striker who has proven just average with the putter. But more important is his trend of improving in each of his last four events, starting with a T30 at the CIMB Classic and most recently finishing T16 at last week's Mayakoba Classic. There's plenty of upside for the youngster this week in a weak field, so expect a made cut with upside for a top-5.
J.J. Spaun, $10100 – A season ago Spaun produced a nice run of finishes but struggled to close on the weekend. However, he still managed a runner-up at the RSM Classic. This year he has produced three straight top-15s with excellent weekend play, proving he's readier than ever to step into the winner's circle. In a weak field this week, he's a top-3 play with very little holding him back.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Kevin Kisner, $10000 – Kisner lapped the field by six in 2015 at Sea Island for his breakthrough PGA Tour victory. He amassed three top-4 finishes in the past four years at this event, making him a crazy good value this week. Kisner has proven excellent on Bermuda golf courses throughout his career, so expect a nice putting display from him this week. If he can strike the ball above average, he will be in contention on the weekend.
Chris Kirk, $10000 – The former St. Simon's Island native won here back in 2013 and has validated it since with two additional top-5s at this event. Kirk started this new wraparound season a bit rocky with missed cuts his first two events, but he played the weekend in each of his last two starts. Kirk is very familiar with these two golf courses and fits the profile for success with his accurate driving, strong iron play, and ability to make birdies in bunches.
Jim Furyk, $9500 – Furyk all but put away his clubs to focus on his Ryder Cup captain duties, but he has been back in action of late, and earned a stellar T6 finish last week. In three career starts at Sea Island Resort, Furyk has finished no worse than 11th, proving he's a great fit for the short venue. There's plenty of upside here for the veteran and his price tag makes him an appealing play in a weak field.
Adam Schenk, $7800 – Schenk has quietly outperformed in the early season with three made cuts in four starts and a top finish of seventh at the Sanderson Farms Championship. His driving accuracy hasn't been outstanding, but his putter has been extremely hot lately, so if he continues this tear there's reason to believe another top-20 finish is looming. At this price, he's a great value play who can provide much needed salary relief to stock your lineup with studs. There's risk here, but he's more than worth a shot given his recent trend.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Finish your 2018 calendar year strong with a lineup that boasts strong drivers of the golf ball who are familiar with Bermuda grass. Favor accuracy over power on these two venues but know there are a good number of entrants who have both. This could very well be the week where a local resident wins for the first time, but even if one doesn't, the lot of them should fare quite well.