The Tour heads back to the states this week for The 2018 RSM Classic, at Sea Island Resort in Georgia. This is an interesting event, as there are two different courses involved in the tournament. In one of their first two rounds each golfer will play The Par 71 Plantation Course (7,058 yards), while their remaining three rounds will be played on The Seaside Course (7,005 yards), which is a Par 70. The RSM Classic has been a PGA stop since 2010, but this format of two golf courses originated in 2015, with all the prior year’s only featuring the The Seaside Course. Mackenzie Hughes picked up his first PGA Tour win here last season (-17), edging out four other golfers in a three round playoff. With three of these golfer’s rounds being played on The Seaside Course, this is the main course we want to focus on for stats. As a Par 70, there are 12 Par Fours, and only two Par fives, making Par Four scoring one of the key stats of the week.
Over the last two seasons, both of the winners finished in the top five for Par Four scoring during their weeks, including Kevin Kisner, who lead the field in this stat in his win during the 2016 season. Both tracks are on the shorter side, and finding the shorter grass is more important than hitting long this week, resulting in many players clubbing down off the box. To no one’s surprise, you also need to hit as many greens as you can, with the past two champs averaging a high 77% GIR. Finally, putting has been extremely important in winning at this event over the last two seasons. Both Hughes and Kisner ranked inside the top three in average putts per round, at a low 26.9 average, and both players led the field in birdies during the week’s of their wins. Also, it isn’t as super important, but Par Five scoring is also worth a look, as there are four very easy Par Fives on The Plantation Course. Lastly, this is field consists of 156 players, and features a standard top 70 and ties making the cut. @Hunta512.
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Talor Gooch: (7,200) Gooch has a had a very successful start to his first PGA season, now making four cuts in a row. Last week he posted a T41 at The OHL Classic, but he could have had a much higher finish if he didn’t falter in the final round, shooting a one over 72, which was the only round that he went over Par for the week. In this start, he ranked 2nd in fairways hit and 15th in GIR%. He didn’t putt well, with a 31 average putts per round, but this was the first time he really struggled on the greens this season, as he still ranks 7th in strokes gained putting over his last 12 rounds of golf. (via Fantasy National)
During this time he also ranks 14th in strokes gained total, 10th in ball striking, 30th in Par Five efficiency, 28th in overall Par Four efficiency, and 17th in Par Four efficiency on Par Fours that land in between 400-450 yards, which is a very compelling stat, as nine of the 12 Par Fours at The Seaside Course fall in this range. As a rookie, the 25 year old has no prior experience in Georgia, but I think he should do just fine in his first try, and this is only a plus for his GPP stock as it might keep people off him. If he can rebound with his putter, he has a nice chance of getting his second top 25 finish of this young season.
Byeoun-Hun An: (7,600) In my opinion, An is very mispriced in this weak field. He missed the cut last week at The OHL Classic, but before this he had three straight top 35 finishes, including a T11 at The CJ Cup. Even when you include his stats from last week’s missed cut, An ranks 9th in strokes gained tee to green, 6th in ball striking, 13th in strokes gained approaching the green, 5th in Par Five efficiency, and 9th in birdie or better percentage over his last 24 rounds of PGA Tour golf. (via Fantasy National) I do worry about his streaky putting, but as I said earlier, I think he is just way too cheap for the caliber of golfer he is.
To put this in perspective, An is currently the 86th ranked player in the world, but is the 29th highest priced player in this field, compared to a player like J.J. Spaun, who is the 10th highest priced player in this field, but 164th ranked player in the world. Furthermore, An was priced at $8,800 last week and $9,100 two weeks ago, but is now only $7,600 in a very similar type of field. The combination of him having no course history and coming off a missed cut, should make him a very low owned option. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) There are clearly safer options out there, but An, at this depressed price tag, is definitely worth a flier in GPPs this week.
Ryan Armour: (7,800) I think we need to go right back to Armour this week with his ownership expected to be somewhat low once again. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) He could have had a better weekend (back to back 72s), but he still did his job in making the cut, finishing with a T55 last week at The OHL Classic. This was his third consecutive made cut and he is now 3/4 on the season. During this run, he has stood out as a statistical stud, ranking 3rd in strokes gained tee to green, 3rd in ball striking, 4th in strokes gained on approach, 27th in strokes gained putting, 4th in birdies, 2nd in fairways hit, 5th in greens hit, and 5th in Par Four efficiency. (via Fantasy National)
This is going to be his third time at Seaside, with him missing the cut in 2014, but finishing with a T36th last season. This finish was solid, but Armour is playing like a completely different golfer this season. He has serious upside this week, particularly when you factor in that The Seaside Course is home to Bermuda greens, which is the same type of surface we saw Armour dominate on and pick up his first career win at The Sanderson Farms Championship just three weeks ago.
Also Consider: Scott Brown, Andrew “Beef” Johnston (6th in Par Four efficiency over his last three starts, and shouldn’t be popular at all this week, as this is his first PGA start of the 2018 season), JT Poston, Si Woo Kim, Danny Lee, Chad Campbell (6/7 here), and Robert Streb (is 3/3 in this event, with a win back in 2014).