Fantasy Golf Cheat Sheet: RSM Classic

The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.

THE FIELD

This is a full-field event that features upwards of 150 golfers and will have the cut take place after Friday’s round. As the last event in the fall series, the RSM Classic also will be the players’ last shot at grabbing a win before the start of the real PGA season in January. The field this week has some similar names, although we are losing Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar but do gain Webb Simpson and Chesson Hadley. This is another event with a decent amount of course history to rely on, which is nice, as the venue has stayed the same for the most part since its 1998 redesign and has hosted the tournament since its inception in 2010. This event does take place over two courses Friday and Saturday (due to lack of daylight in the fall) and so checking weather forecasts at each course beforehand would be wise, as the draw can sometimes be a big factor when an extra course is in play.


THE COURSE

Seaside Course, Sea Island, Georgia: Par 70, 7,055 yards
Plantation Course (Thursday/Friday only): Par 72, 7,000-7,100 yards

The tournament once again will feature two different courses. On Thursday and Friday, players will play the Seaside (the host course) and the Plantation courses once each, and then the weekend players will play Saturday and Sunday on the Seaside Course only. The dual courses in play at this event always plays a big factor. The Plantation Course carries four par 5s (compared to only two for the Seaside Course) and is generally much less wind exposed, meaning it has the potential to play up to two shots easier than the host course. In 2016, the Plantation Course played at -2.237 strokes under par for the week and was the third-easiest course overall on tour, while the Seaside Course played at -1.111 strokes under par for the week and was the 15th-easiest course on tour. Last year, the Plantation Course played as the eighth easiest on tour and Seaside the 16th. Knowing which days your players will be on which course is important, and I’d suggest using the weather forecast to help you make decisions. Getting players with less breezy days on the Seaside Course could be crucial to success.

The courses themselves are exposed, but shorter in nature and favor players who rely on accuracy over power. Both are positioned near the sea, although it’s only the Seaside Course that is more exposed and somewhat links-style in nature. Many players who have had success at this event also have had success at other short seaside courses like Hilton Head and Waialae Country Club, which also feature Bermuda grass. Looking for specialists on these sorts of tracks isn’t a bad plan and something I’d recommend when making your lineups.

Weather Report: The weather is quite bad for the start of the week, with rain and winds into the 10-11 mph range expected for Thursday. The good news is the sun is supposed to reappear Friday and stay through the weekend. Players on the Seaside Course might have a difficult time in the rain and colder weather Thursday, especially the early starters, although all players will be exposed to the same elements. Check the weather Wednesday night and see if there’s going to be any break for the afternoon players Thursday as that could be a factor to consider.


PAST FIVE WINNERS

2017—Austin Cook -21 (over J.J Spaun -17)
2016—MacKenzie Hughes -18 (five-way playoff)
2015—Kevin Kisner -22 (over Kevin Chappell -16)
2014—Robert Streb -14 (over Brandon de Jonge and Will MacKenzie playoff)
2013—Chris Kirk -14 (over two players at -13)


WINNING TRENDS

– Five of the past eight winners had a T5 or better at either the RBC Heritage (Hilton Head) or the Sony Open (Waialae Country Club) before their win at the RSM.
– Six of the past eight winners have ranked 42nd or better in Par 4 Scoring in the year of their victory.


STATISTICS

Par 4 Scoring
Strokes Gained: Putting; Strokes Gained: Approach
Scrambling

As mentioned above, Par 4 Scoring has been crucial for past winners, and with the main course being a par 70 and having only two par 5s, I’d continue to rely on that stat this week. This is often a good barometer for success anyways, but with the past trend of the past five winners ranking no worse than sixth in this category for the week of their win, I would emphasize it even more here.

As much as putting can be a variable stat to look at, it’s hard to ignore that many past winners have been strong putters and have ranked highly in SG: Putting for the week of their win. Two of the past three winners each ranked top three in this stat for the week of their win here, and strong Bermuda putters can be emphasized this week. Strokes Gained: Approach is the other SG metric to be looking at here, two of the past three winners ranked inside the top five in this stat in the year of their win.

Finally, Scrambling is another stat to emphasize given the smaller Bermuda greens. Four of the past five winners have ranked top five in this stat for the week of their win, including Austin Cook last year, who was second in this category for the week.


FINDING VALUES

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.

PlayerOddsDK PriceComparables
Whee Kim50-1$8,400Chris Kirk $8,400 and 50-1
Denny McCarthy $8,700 and 60-1
Harold Varner III $8,800 and 50-1
Henrik Norlander80-1$7,000Johnson Wagner $7,100 and 90-1
Robert Streb $7,200 and 110-1
Jason Dufner $7,200 and 100-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

Chris Kirk has played this event every year since its inception, and he’s flourished here over the years. On top of winning this event in 2013, Kirk also finished T4 here in 2014, T18 here in 2015 and was T4 here again last year. On a less-than-driver type of course, Kirk should always be considered, even if his recent form is less than optimal.

Brian Gay is the prototypical type of player that should do well at Sea Island, as strong putting and short games get magnified here. Gay has missed two cuts here in six tries, but he also has flashed upside with two top-five finishes here over his past three starts, including a T3 finish here last year.

Kevin Kisner won this event back in 2015 — his first win on tour — and has finished T20 or better four times in his past five visits to Sea Island. Kisner has three finishes of T4 or better at this week’s venue and can be considered as a lead horse, even if his recent form isn’t all that sharp.

Russell Henley is a great Bermuda putter and generally very accurate off the tee, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock he’s done well at Sea Island over the years. In four appearances, he’s never missed the cut and has finished inside the top-10 on three occasions, including a best finish of T4 back in 2014.


RECENT FORM

Cameron Champ has followed up his win two weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms with two solid finishes of T28 and T7. He was in the hunt last week before a poor third round and easily could grab his second win here.
Chesson Hadley has a T7 and T2 finish over his past three starts and is tearing up the fall swing once again. He doesn’t have the best course history at this venue but could overcome that to post another big finish.
J.J. Spaun is another fall swing champion who has made eight cuts in a row and finished no worse than T15 over his past three starts, including a T3 last week.


MY PICK: Lucas Glover ($9,900)

Glover has been in fine form over the past couple of months, racking up big finishes in the Web.com playoffs and keeping that rolling with a couple of top-15 finishes in the swing season. The 2009 US Open winner had a 2017-18 season to forget as off-the-course issues and some poor play saw him nearly lose his tour card. He battled back hard at the end of the year to regain full status and enters this year’s RSM Classic in the best form we’ve seen him in quite some time. Glover ranks fifth in Par 4 Scoring and 10th in Birdie or Better % over the past 12 weeks in rolling stats and should also get a slight advantage this week given the Bermuda greens. He’s tended to putt his best on this surface, posting +0.306 strokes gained on Bermuda versus all other surfaces in his career. Glover has made the cut at this event in three of his past four tries, including a T9 from back in 2015 and enters this year’s version in exceedingly good form.


MY SLEEPER: Michael Thompson ($7,600)

It’s easy to forget about Thompson in this field. We haven’t seen him since the beginning of the swing season, when he placed T17 at the Safeway Open. Thompson had been on a terrific run before taking some time off, however, posting three finishes inside the top 25 and showing excellent ball-striking at his only fall event, ranking 15th in Strokes Gained: Approach there for the week. The 2013 Honda Classic winner also has a putter that can get red-hot at times and has played the RSM Classic six times in the past, finishing T17 or better in four of those appearances. He’s also a solid Bermuda putter, gaining nearly +0.3 strokes on the surface, vs. all others, over his career and should setup well for what could be a blustery week on an accuracy-driven course. His recent ball-striking stats are some of the best of his career, so if he can keep it up here, on one of his favorite venues, a big week could be ahead.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.