The RSM Classic Preview

Daylight is at a premium in mid-November but this week's RSM Classic has the cure.

The solution comes in the form of a dual-course event.

A full field of golfers will rotate between the Seaside Course and Plantation Course, both at Sea Island Resort, over the first two rounds. After 36 holes, they'll trim the field to the top 65 and ties who will then head to the host course (Seaside) for the final two rounds.

The Course

Sea Island Resort returns to host another edition of the RSM.

Let's focus on the host course, the Seaside Course, since golfers will play three rounds there if they make it through the cutline.

The Seaside Course is a classical design laid out by Harry Colt and C.H. Alison back in the late 1920s. It was renovated by Tom Fazio back in 1999.

Checking the scorecard, we see a short track, just 7,005 yards while playing as a par 70.

Water comes into play on 13 holes. Steady striking gets a nudge over brute force.

With eight of the par 4s playing under 425 yards, golfers do not have to pound drivers, letting them club down to irons on woods a fair amount. It also means a lot of short irons and wedges when attacking for their second shots.

As a links-like layout that is exposed to the coastal elements, you can never rule out a tough scoring day or two but in calm conditions, the pros can feast here.

For grass talk, they'll see bermudagrass, for the most part, this week. There is some paspalum on the fairways and the Seaside was overseeded the first week of October. Typically that means a blend of ryegrass will become the dominant grass for the fairways and rough while the greens will be a mix of poa trivialis and bentgrass. But, since it's still relatively early in the "cool season" the bermudagrass is likely still going strong, not ready to cave to the peer pressure of winter just yet. For those looking to run their stat models by grass type, it's safest to stick with bermudagrass this week.

If you're looking for a birdiefest, then turn your attention toward the Plantation Course.

This course also plays right around 7,000 yards on the card but it's actually a par 72 so the birdies really fly off the shelf here.

Davis Love III and his design firm did a renovation in 2019 but it still played 1.3 strokes under par last year which falls in line with the historical averages. It also yielded 0.55 eagles per 72 holes which would put it among the easiest on TOUR when it comes to landing the big birds.

The Plantation Course was overseeded in mid-October but I'm fully expecting it to play like bermuda still, unless we hear otherwise in pre-tourney pressers.

If you are playing single-round fantasy contests then definitely put your focus on the Plantation Course for rounds one and two.

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Course Quotes

Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.

Vaughn Taylor: "Well, you've got a lot of wedges in and short irons, so you immediately get aggressive."

Cameron Champ: "Length on this course is pretty much irrelevant. I'm just trying to find the fairways and middle of the greens and take my 20-footers and having to push or pull one to the pin, I'll take it."

Austin Cook "I think it really does help the more rounds you get on a track, the more confident you are and comfortable you are on the golf course. It's playing a little different this week than it does in May or whenever SECs are."

Correlated Courses

Using historical data we can look at overperformance and underperformance at this week's host course and compare that to all of the courses played out on TOUR. Here are the ones that shared a lot of overlap:

Sedgefield CC
Waialae CC
TPC Summerlin

Short, less-than-driver layouts that don't demand distance and reward accuracy.

The Weather

Thursday: Sunny with a high of 58 degrees. Winds at 6 to 12 MPH.

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 60 degrees. Winds at 4 to 10 MPH.

There are some wind gusts here and there but overall pretty calm for a coastal course. Some pop-up showers are possible but shouldn't be anything that would delay this into Monday.

Golfers to Watch

Tony Finau
It's crazy how fast a narrative can flip in golf. For Finau, he was "the guy who couldn't win" for years but now he's a prolific winner including three of his last seven starts. He'll look to add another trophy this week at the RSM. He posted a top 15 in his only previous appearance at the event, back in 2014.

Kevin Kisner
He's the leading money winner at the RSM. When you think of Kisner you probably think of Match Play, Sea Island, Colonial, or some other short course out on TOUR that doesn't demand distance. He's played just one event this season and doesn't have a top 10 since June. You're banking on course fit and course comfort to snap him out of a cold streak.

Webb Simpson
Speaking of cold streaks, Simpson has just three top 30s in his last 18 starts. He's dealt with injuries over that time span and he's not getting any younger. That being said, Sea Island is the type of venue that will always cater to the play style of someone like Simpson.

Robert Streb
In today's edition of useless trivia that will likely be outdated by week's end, it's actually Streb that checks in at No. 2 on the tournament's career earnings list. He's bagged a trio of top 25s in eight tries at Sea Island with two of those being victories (the only two wins on his PGA TOUR resume).

Keith Mitchell
A member of the Sea Island Mafia, this Georgia Bulldog arrives off a top 10 in Houston while also boasting top 15s in two of his last three starts at the RSM.

Ranking the Field

1. Keith Mitchell
2. Brian Harman
3. Tony Finau
4. Seamus Power
5. Webb Simpson
6. Denny McCarthy
7. Chris Kirk
8. Matthew NeSmith
9. Taylor Montgomery
10. Taylor Pendrith
11. Brendon Todd
12. Joel Dahmen
13. Jason Day
14. Sahith Theegala
15. Aaron Rai
16. Alex Smalley
17. Justin Rose
18. Tom Hoge
19. Harris English
20. Andrew Putnam