The RSM Classic tees off Thursday morning from the Sea Island Resort in Georgia. There are plenty of familiar names all throughout the field, giving you lots to think about and more than your fair share of appealing options. Here are a few names you can consider as you begin to finalize your rosters for this weekend. Good luck.
Justin Thomas ($10,900) – One of the most expensive players on the board for this one, he followed up his first career victory at the CIMB Classic with a T27 a couple of weeks ago at the WGC-HSBC. But it’s not as if the win came out of nowhere – he was building up to it, playing very well for several weeks before finally breaking through. He hasn’t shot a single round over par since September or missed a cut since June, and that kind of momentum should lend itself to at least some success this weekend.
Kevin Kisner ($10,400) – He has finished inside the top-20 here in both of his last two visits here, including a T4 last year. The Georgia native clearly has an eye for the course, and is coming off an impressive -18, solo-2nd showing at the WGC event in China – I am sure he’ll be hoping to improve on that second-place showing in this one.
Russell Henley ($10,000) – He played very well here last year, eventually finishing tied with Thomas at fourth overall after leading the pack after a couple of rounds. He has been playing consistent golf for a while now, and with these younger golfers, they really do feel like a pool of basically limitless upside. When a guy is still up-and-coming, a bunch of finishes near but not at the top of the leaderboard don’t feel like failures, they feel like stepping-stones. He shot four rounds in the 60’s at the CIMB Classic, and if he can apply that level of play here, he should be right back in the mix on Sunday.
Patrick Rodgers ($9,600) – He has never played here before, but this course is not intimidating, not the kind of place where you have to have prior experience to finish well. He has been striking the ball well off the tee, maintaining solid tee-to-green percentages with his irons and his short game, and putting well. That’s the only way you finish in the top-20 in four straight, like he has coming in – and those skills are going to translate to success on any course.
Charles Howell III ($9,100) – If it wasn’t for a 77 he shot on Sunday at the Shriners, he would have had a decent showing in every event so far this season. Before that round, he had shot 70-68-69, and he has finished at -10 or better in each of his other three tournaments since the beginning of October (ending up inside the top-20 all three times). He missed the cut here last year, but has finished inside the top-10 on two other occasions, so there is no reason to fear his history on the course.
Brendon de Jonge ($8,700) – He has always played well here, ending up inside the top-20 in four out of five tries, including a solo-2nd last year. He shot a 73 on Sunday last weekend at the OHL to drop back to T58, but that was his first tough round in a month. He will look to rebound from that, on what better place to do it than on a course where he has a history of success. I like his chances of securing the win this weekend;
Roberto Castro ($8,600) – There are plenty of reasons to love him this weekend: he has made four straight cuts, he’s coming off two straight top-25 performances (and five of his last seven), he’s averaging almost 18 birdies per tournament over his last three, good for a fantasy scoring average just a touch over 85. Yes, please.
David Lingmerth ($8,200) – Lingmerth has the upside of back-to-back rounds of 65-64, like he shot at the CIMB Classic. He doesn’t have the consistency week-to-week of the top options… or else he’d be one himself. That makes for a better tournament play than cash game pick, but it does means he can provide big value on occasion.
David Hearn ($7,400) – In each of his last three tournaments, Hearn has had one round that doomed his final result. The difference is just how bad that round is – last time it was a 75, before that a 74 and before that, a 72. When the bad round comes in at 72, he has a chance to finish in the top 25 or so and put up very respectable fantasy totals. He has the talent to compete if he can string four good days together.
Morgan Hoffman ($7,200) – In his two tournaments in October, the Shriners and the CIMB Classic, he only had one round over par. At the CIMB, he finished T47, but still had 74 fantasy points because a lack of birdies wasn’t the problem, it was the 11 bogeys. But as I have written a thousand times, birdie-bogey is better than par-par. You can’t forget that.
Hudson Swafford ($6,900) – Swafford was the example of this idea I gave in my PGA Insights column this week has made three of four cuts since the middle of last month, with two finishes inside the top-25. You might say “yeah, that’s true, but his best was only T17.” To which I might reply, “a T17 that was good for 82 fantasy points.” He has shot 18 holes under par two different times in the past month, performances that are going to be useful for fantasy purposes at this price no matter where he finishes on the final leaderboard.
Dru Love IV ($5,400) – That’s right, the fourth. Davis Love III’s son (and, I assume Davis Love, Jr.’s grandson, etc), is making his PGA Tour debut this weekend after receiving a sponsor’s exemption into the event. But there has to be a reason other than his name he got the nod, and, in fact, there are a few. The biggest, perhaps, is the fact that he is coming off a Georgia State Amateur Championship this year, which was contested at Sea Island Resort, so he is at least somewhat familiar with the course. With another victory at the Puerto Rico Classic earlier this year, it wasn’t really a matter of if this first start was coming, but when – now is as good a time as any.