November 15, 2023, 12:01 pm
The PGA FedExCupFall returns for the final time (officially) of 2023. Yes, there are still some golf events in December, but nothing that counts for anything (unless you count the Hero World Challenge which gets world ranking points). The DraftKings were a little disappointing last week in Bermuda as the top play option Doug Ghim missed the cut on the number thanks to a slow star on Thursday morning. Mark Hubbard from the mi-tier proved to be a solid play with a T20 finish and out producing Alex Smalley. Once again, the value play came through quite nicely as Ben Martin was able to finish T27. However, with several other players in his range finishing in the top ten, it was not good enough to help our teams rise up the leaderboard. None of the bets were in real contention to give a sweat.
This week sees the conclusion of FedExCup Fall series as we head back stateside for the RMS Classic. A staple in the fall swing, we also get the return of a course rotation during the first two days of the tournament. Players will alternate their Thursday and Friday playing on the Seaside course and the Plantation course. Both days on the weekend will be played on the Seaside course, so it will be important to note that our stats to look out for will be geared towards that course. We also get ShotLink data from the Seaside course and not the Plantation course, so there is more data to look at past performances.
This week features a considerably stronger field than last week, and may even be the second strongest field we have had in the fall. Lots of pros live in the area of these courses and are known as the “Sea Island Mafia”, although no members of said group have ever been able to take home the trophy on Sunday.
This is the last opportunity for players to earn their way into next season’s Signature Events and PGA Tour status. Here is a complete breakdown below of what is at stake.
FedExCup points are still going to be accrued for those in the field that did not finish inside the top 50 of this past season’s standings. It is a little bit of a mess how they are doing this but here is my best attempt at summarizing everything:
- Those who finished inside the top-50 are qualified for Signature Events next season and can compete in the FedExCupFall events, but only for money and not accrue and FedExCup points.
- Those who finished 51-70 are guaranteed their Tour eligibility, but can continue to earn points to make themselves eligible for the first two Signature Events (after the Sentry Tournament of Champions).
- Those who finished the season at 71 and beyond are competing to be inside the top-125 by the end of the FedExCupFall and receive exemption for all full-field events and the PLAYERS Championship in 2024.
- All winners of events during the FedExCupFall series will receive invites to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PLAYERS Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship (if not already qualified).
Let’s dig into the RSM Classic. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter (X) @mlafem10 where I post additional information and am always available for questions.
As mentioned above, we have two courses on the docket for the RSM Classic, the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course at Sea Island Gold Course and Club. Located on St. Simons Island in Georgia.
Most of our focus will be on the Seaside course this week since three of the four rounds will be played there. A quick description of the Plantation course would be that it is also a short course playing at 7,060 yards that is much more protected from the winds than Seaside due to all the trees and being more inland. Plantation is a Par-72 with large fairways and large Bermudagrass greens with the typical four par-5s, four par-3s and ten par-4s. The Plantation course does typically play a little easier than Seaside due to the two extra par-5s
Playing as a Par 70 and 7,005 yards, the Seaside course is in the top ten of shortest courses played on the PGA Tour regular schedule. Seaside definitely plays as the more difficult of the two as it is exposed to coastal winds, which can ramp up at any time. The winds also make the green speeds some of the quickest on tour.
Being a coastal course, Seaside also boasts plenty of dangerous holes that feature water (13), so smart shots will be required by golfers. Even with all the potential for trouble lurking, Seaside still plays as the 15th easiest course on Tour, especially if the winds are going to be moderate.
As of this morning, Friday morning looks like it could get a little spicy in regards to the wind gusts that could get up to 30 miles per hour around 11AM or so. It may make sense to roster golfers who start at the Plantation course and avoid the worst of the conditions on the Seaside course on Friday. I will post final updates for this in our SportsEthos PGA Discord channel, which you can join here for free: https://discord.com/channels/785612677950210089/1080289919609610300
The Seaside course as mentioned about features Bermudagrass greens that play very fast. However, they are quite large in size (7th largest on Tour) and with the generous fairways, most golfers do not have much trouble getting on the green in two, hence the lower scoring.
Given the length of the course, distance is not a major advantage here, as most players will not even hit driver off the tee and opt to “club down” and find the fairway. Nine of the par-4s here play between 400-450 yards with the 368-yard 8th hole playing the easiest, surrendering a birdie about 25% of the time. The two par-5s on the course are not surprisingly the easiest holes on the course, but the 565-yard 15th plays considerably easier than the 582-yard 7th, as the 15th yields a birdie over 50% of the time and a near 5% eagle rate, compared to 34% birdie rate of the 7th.
Here is a look at both courses:
The field is a full-field 156 player field this week with the traditional T65 and better advancing to the weekend. Some recognizable names up top include Ludvig Aberg, Cameron Young, Russell Henley, Brian Harman and Corey Conners.
As of this writing, David Lipsky, Nicolai Højgaard, Aaron Rai, Davis Riley and Geoff Ogilvy all withdrawn. They were replaced in the field by Tommy Gainey, Fabian Gomez, Ricky Barne and William McGirt have replaced them.
The Monday qualifiers for this week include Jacob Solomon, Matt Atkins, Curtis Thompson and Rafael Campos.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week. We once again do not get any ShotLink data, but given how the course is designed and the geography of the course, we can make reasonable assumptions about what it takes to do well in Bermuda.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Even on shorter courses with big greens, putting yourself in position to score will be essential to keep up with the winning score this week.
- SG: Windy Conditions- This is course right alongside the coastline and wind gusts can ramp up in a hurry and be rather unpredictable. This stat can be a little noisy, but I will certainly be giving it consideration.
- SG: P (Fast Bermuda)– Winning scores tend to be in the 15 to 19 under par range, so making birdies and avoiding bogeys will be a big key this week. Making your putts are an easy way to check both of those boxes.
- Proximity 120-175 YDS- Nearly half of approach shots at Seaside come from this distance. We want golfers who can be dialed in from here.
- Par 4 Scoring (400-450 YDS)- I already mentioned 9 of the par-4s at Seaside fall in this bucket. It is a rather specific stat so I wouldn’t go crazy on it’s importance, but it is something certainly well worth your time considering.
DFS Top Tier Play
Objectively, Russell Henley rates out the best and is only $9,700 for some reason. He may be the best play on the board, but I am pretty confident in saying he will be the most owned player in the field. That alone is not a reason to fade him, but I think Corey Conners is just as good of a golfer as Henley and we will get him at half the ownership. Conners ranks first in the field for me on short courses and is in the top echelon of approach players on the PGA Tour in general, but especially in this field. The lack of prowess in his around the green game should be muted here as the greens are big enough that he should not be missing very many of them. Yes, the putter can be an issue at times, but he has only had one horrific performance on the greens here in his four career appearances. Speaking of four career appearances, Conners owns three top 25’s in his four starts at the RSM, including a top 10. Obviously, we are hoping for a little more than that given his price. Some may be scared off playing Conners this week because this is first fall event of the season and may question his motivation for showing up here. I look at it as he is prioritizing a place that suits his game well and he feels comfortable at. I have no issues starting my lineups with Conners or having him as my second man in if you are going for a more aggressive approach.
Others Considered: Eric Cole ($9,000), J.T. Poston ($9,300)
DFS Mid Tier Play
The 2013 champion of this event ranks 11th in my model this week and there is a lot to his game that sets up well. Kirk’s most recent victory in his career came at the Honda Classic this past February which is also a short Par-70 course with lots of water holes that present danger. That course also features Bermudagrass greens that are fast. In addition to his win here, Kirk also has two additional top five finishes and another three additional top 20’s. Kirk’s accuracy off the tee really is a weapon here, as he should not find himself in danger at all and be able to attack the pins with his excellent approach game, especially from they key proximity range of 125-175 yards out. If the weather starts to act up, Kirk also ranks first in the field in windy conditions so that should be a leg up on the competition for him as well. His putter can be a little spotty at times, but he has shown capable enough at this course (gained on the greens in 8 of 13 career appearances) that I have faith that he has confidence in reading these greens. I don’t think Kirk will be unowned, but there are enough other interesting names in his price range that his ownership will be kept in check and provide great value in your lineup.
Others Considered: Denny McCarthy ($8,700), Harris English ($7,800)
DFS Value Play
Last week, Ryan Palmer finished in a tie for eighth place and was priced at $8,500. Granted the field is considerably stronger this week, but I do not understand this large of a price drop for Palmer. He is playing some fantastic golf right now with back-to-back top tens as he also finished in a tie for fifth down in Mexico. Palmer plays his best on easier setups, which we get this week and being a native of Texas, doesn’t mind a little wind if it comes his way. Bermudagrass is the only surface where he gains with the flatstick, and can get really hot with his irons in clumps at a time. We don’t have the ShotLink data from the past couple weeks, but one can assume his iron play has been dialed in considering those finishes. I expect Sam Ryder and Matthew NeSmith to garner a lot of attention around him, but Palmer has just been playing better golf recently than both of them and I will ride the hot hand to close out the fall swing with another strong performance. Palmer makes sense as a last man in or I am comfortable with him as a fifth man in if you are trying to jam in more expensive golfers up top. He makes a ton of since to include in your pool as a value option with a lot of upside (where he ranks 40th in DraftKings points in the field over the last 24 rounds which include some awful performances).
Others Considered: Adam Schenk ($7,400), Mark Hubbard ($7,400)
Matt Kuchar +4000 (.6U FD)
Billy Horschel +5000 (.6U DK)
Adam Schenk +7000 (.4U FD)
Ryan Palmer +15000 (.2U FD)
Kramer Hickok +27000 (.2U FD)
Position Player Name DK Salary G Corey Conners $9,900 G Chris Kirk $7,900 G Ryan Palmer $7,200 G G G REMAINING BUDGET REMAINING BUDGET: $25,000 FOR 3 GOLFERS