Horses for Courses: The RSM Classic

It’s off to Sea Island for the 11th consecutive season for a late calendar shoot out.

It’s time for gamers and pros to unwind as the TOUR returns to Sea Island, part of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia, for The RSM Classic. After grinding out two majors in the last 10 weeks the pros can see the finish line for the 2020 portion of the 2021 season and Sea Island Resort will provide the chance to exhale.

This will be the 11th consecutive year the Seaside Course will determine the champion. In calendar 2016 Sea Island Resort added the Plantation Course to the Seaside Course to accommodate the full field of 156 players. Each player tees it up one time on each track to establish the top 65 and ties before returning to Seaside on the weekend to determine the champion. This is the last of four multi-course events of the season. The RSM Classic joins The American Express, Farmers Insurance and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as the others.

The Plantation course renovation occurred before last year’s event so it has had a year to settle in. The Love brothers, Davis and Mark, should have things in perfect running order at 7,060 yards and Par-72. With that par and distance, scores should be had.

The host Par-70 Seaside course was put together by Tom Fazio and will be the only track using ShotLink this week and annually. With plenty of room to move it off the tee and big targets (read: wind) for approach, it’s hardly a wonder why the average winning score here is pressing 20-under annually. Both tracks use TifEagle Bermuda on the greens and there isn’t much rough that’s going to bother these resort “guests” this week.

The RSM Classic has never in 10 tries had a champion post a round OVER par so it’s a wide-open, scoring affair. The host Seaside courses barely tips at 7,000 yards so the door is open for all comers. Signs of a shootout appear everywhere as first-time winners are prevalent and defending or multiple champions don’t exist. In the previous 10 events all but two were decided by a playoff or one stroke so 72 holes of concentration is also expected. 

Recent Event Winners Stats

PlayerTyler Duncan Charles Howell IIIAustin Cook
Score263 (-19)263 (-19)261 (-21)
All DrivesT427T28
Putting: Birdie or Better %T4665
SG: Off-the-Tee213812
SG: Approach-the-Green3175
SG: Around-the-Green38409
SG: Putting142413
SG: Tee-to-Green2191
Bogey Avoidance1T92
Par-3 Scoring1T5T20
Par-4 ScoringT10T7 1
Par-5 ScoringT26T253

Recent Winners and Notables

2019: Tyler Duncan (-19, 263)
Defeated Webb Simpson on second playoff hole to win for the first time on TOUR. … First winner to have three bogey-free rounds. … Closed with 65, best round of Sunday, to force playoff. … 36 hole leader by two after 61. … Made 18 pars in Round 3 to drop to T5. … Won in his third appearance. … Entered the week with one top 25 in six starts in the new season.

Notables: Webb Simpson (P2) was defeated for the second time in a playoff (2011, Ben Crane) here. Led after Round 1 and led the field in birdies with 25. … Sebastian Munoz (3rd) added to his win at Houston and T7 at Greenbrier and was T2 in birdies with 22. … Brendon Todd (4th) set the 54-hole record after 62 in Round but could not win for the third consecutive week on TOUR. … K.H. Lee (T5) made 21 birdies on debut. … Henrik Norlander (T5), vanquished in the five-man playoff of 2017, picked up his second top five in five starts here; made 23 birdies in 2018. … Denny McCarthy (T8) is 24-under in his last seven rounds at this event including 62 in Round 2. … D.J. Trahan (T8) picked up his second top 10 in four tries career and also circled 21 birdies. … T10 was shared by Alex Noren, Brian Stuard, Vaughn Taylor and Will Gordon. … Top 29 players were 10-under or better.

2018: Charles Howell, III (-19, 263)
Defeated Patrick Rodgers in a playoff. … Led after 18, 36 and 54 holes. … Not considered “wire-to-wire” because of playoff. … Second in the field with 25 birdies. … Broke the streak of four consecutive first-time winners. … Oldest winner at 39. … First time converting 54-hole lead on TOUR. … Sea Island resident won in his ninth attempt.

NotablesPatrick Rodgers (P2) set at TOUR record closing 61-62, the two lowest rounds of the week and led the field in birdies with 26. … Webb Simpson (3rd) closed 63-65 to miss the playoff by a shot. … Luke List (T4) also closed 63-65. … The first champion on two courses, Kevin Kisner (T7) picked up his fourth top 10 in five years. … Resident Zach Johnson (T7) backed up his T8 from 2017, his only two top 10 finishes. … Top 45 players were 10-under or better.

2017: Austin Cook (-21, 261)
Won by four on debut for his first TOUR victory in his 14th attempt. … Tied low round of the week with 62 in Round 2. … Led the field in birdies with 23. … Tied 36-hole record and set 54-hole record (-18). … Missed tying Kisner’s tournament record by a shot. … Fourth consecutive first-time winner in the event. … Only squared two bogeys for the week. … T11 in his defense and is 39-under the last three years.

Notables: J.J. Spaun (2nd) shot 62 in Round 3 and circled 21 birdies on the week. … Past champions Kevin Kisner (2015) and Chris Kirk (2013) shared T4 with resident Brian Harman and Andrew Landry. … Kirk set the Plantation record with 63 to lead after Round 1. … Zach Johnson and Vaughn Taylor rounded out the top 10 on T8. … Kevin Streelman (T17) only made one bogey on the week but just 12 birdies. … Top 24 players 10-under or better.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. * – Top 10 finish here since 2016

Rounds in the 60s
 1  Sungjae Im
 1  Mark Hubbard
 3  Harris English
 6  *Brian Harman
 9  *Brendon Todd
12 Adam Long
16 Talor Gooch
16 Doc Redman
20 *Kevin Kisner
20 Joel Dahmen
23 Harry Higgs
23 *Patrick Rodgers
23 *Webb Simpson
23 *Henrik Norlander
23 *Sebastian Munoz

1  Corey Conners
 4  Martin Laird
 4  Doc Redman
 6  Jhonattan Vegas
 7  *Webb Simpson
 9  Harold Varner III
10 Emiliano Grillo
11 Chesson Hadley
13 Harris English
15 Adam Schenk
15 *Will Gordon
17 *Lucas Glover (T9, 2016)
17 *Henrik Norlander
20 Aaron Wise
22 Tyrrell Hatton
24 Cameron Davis
26 Kyle Stanley
26 *D.J. Trahan

Birdie-or-Better Percentage
 2  *Webb Simpson
8  Justin Rose
10 Tyrrell Hatton
11 Kristoffer Ventura
14 *Denny McCarthy
15 Charley Hoffman
17 Wyndham Clark
19 Chesson Hadley
20 Bronson Burgoon
23 Ian Poulter
28 Sungjae Im

Horses for Courses

Top 5 All-Time
Money Leaders (Starts/Cuts Made)Top 10sTop 25Recent Top FinishNotes
Webb Simpson (8/8)45P2 (2020)3 (2019), T7 (2014);  P2 (2011)
Kevin Kisner (6/9)45T7 (2019)T4 (2018), WIN (2016); T4 (2015)
Charles Howell III (8/10)45WIN (2019)T9 (2016), T13 (2017)
Chris Kirk (7/10)35T4 (2018)T18 (2016)
Austin Cook (3/3)12WIN (2018)T11 (2019)
Veteran Presence
Zach Johnson (7/10)24T7 (2019)T8 (2018); only 2 top 10s
Stewart Cink (6/9)12T10 (2017)T25 (2018)
Brendon Todd (5/6)124 (2020)62 Rd 3; 18-under after 54
Brian Harman (6/8)23T4 (2018)37-under 2018-2020
Russell Henley (4/6)33T10 (2017)T6 (2016); MC last two years
David Hearn (7/7)13T9 (2016)T30-T15-T17 last 3 years
Generation Next
Tyler Duncan (3/3)12WIN (2020)T25 (2018)
Patrick Rodgers (3/5)22P2 (2019)Closed 61-62; T10 (2017)
Henrik Norlander (4/5)22T5 (2020)T2 (2017)
Mackenzie Hughes (2/4)11WIN (2017)T65-MC-MC
Sebastian Munoz (3/3)113 (2020)3rd time a charm
CT Pan (2/3)12T6 (2017)T13 (2017); 26-under
Denny McCarthy (2/3)11T8 (2020)24-under last 7 rounds
KH Lee (1/2)11T5 (2020)14-under thru 54 holes last year

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