The fall finale of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season is upon us.
The RSM Classic begins Thursday at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., and features a field that includes Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Charles Howell III and defending champion Mackenzie Hughes.
In 2015, the tournament expanded from 132 to 156 players, and began to use Sea Island’s Plantation Course (Par 70, 7,058 yards) in addition to the Seaside Course (Par 70, 7,005 yards).
All seven RSM Classic champions shot even par or better in every round en route to the title, so expect low scoring again this year. Last year, Hughes opened in 61 before adding rounds of 67-68-69 to finish at 17 under and prevailing in a five-man playoff.
The key at Sea Island is putting and around the greens. Hughes was third in strokes gained-putting last year and first in strokes gained-around the green. At the same time, he ranked 25th in strokes gained-tee to green, T-50 in green in regulation 38th in strokes gained-off the tee.
Here are my top-25 fantasy golf options for the 2017 edition of the RSM Classic:
1. Charles Howell III: Another course he likes, and this time it’s a home game – T-13 or better four times and no MCs in seven career RSM starts. T-4 finish last week in Mexico followed a T-15 in China and T-19 in South Korea.
2. Webb Simpson: Riding current streak of four straight top-20s. Also owns three top-10s in last seven Tour starts. Runner-up here in 2011, boasts two other top-12s and hasn’t missed a cut in Sea Island in five trips.
3. Matt Kuchar: St. Simons Island resident’s MC here last year snapped a streak of five straight top-25s at Sea Island. T-31 in each of past two worldwide starts with four top-10s in last seven starts.
4. Kevin Kisner: Won here in 2015 and has three other finishes of T-26 or better at Sea Island, but surprisingly missed cut last year. Well rested as he’s not played since Presidents Cup. T-3 in last Tour start, at Tour Championship.
5. Brian Harman: One top-10 in five starts here for St. Simons Island resident and has missed his past two RSM cuts. But he’s been eighth or better in each of his two Tour starts this season. Boasts stellar short game.
6. Zach Johnson: T-23 or better in three straight Tour starts now. MC here last year was his third in seven starts at his adoptive home of Sea Island, but he does own a pair of top-16 finishes. Ranks 10th on Tour in SGP.
7. Scott Brown: Three top-20s in four career RSM starts. Boasts two top-6 finishes in last three Tour starts, including a T-6 last week in Mexico.
8. Ollie Schniederjans: T-6 in RSM debut last year and is enjoying some nice form right now – T-17, T-23, T-19 in last three Tour starts.
9. Patton Kizzire: Two straight MCs at Sea Island for local guy, but is coming off a big win in Mexico and two other top-10s before that. Also is 14th on Tour in SGP.
10. Jamie Lovemark: Missed cut in Vegas, but was T-5 in South Korea two weeks prior. T-9 and T-6 in first two trips to Sea Island. Ranks 24th in SGP.
11. Si Woo Kim: It’s now been seven starts since his last WD, which is a nice sign. Finished third last week in Mexico. T-18 in RSM debut in 2015 before a MC last year.
12. Patrick Rodgers: Improved on T-44 in RSM debut with T-10 finish last year. Putting is much improved this season as he ranks 20th in SGP. T-14 in last outing in Mexico.
13. Sean O’Hair: Four top-20s in five RSM starts. Hasn’t teed it up since a T-20 at the BMW, though.
14. Bill Haas: In four starts at RSM, owns a T-13 (last year) and runner-up (2010). Ranks 13th in SG around the green. Just one top-10 in last 11 Tour starts, though.
15. Jason Kokrak: Has made four of five cuts at RSM, but just one top-10 (T-10, 2013). Combines power with creativity around the greens. Three top-20s in last four Tour starts.
16. Chesson Hadley: Food poisoning forced him to WD in Mexico, but he’s been T-4 or better in his other three Tour starts this season. Nothing better than T-32 and two MCs in four starts here, but does rank 12th in SGP.
17. Graeme McDowell: Just two starts here but one of them is a third-place showing in 2015. Ranks second in SGP. Has made his last six worldwide cuts with a pair of top-15s.
18. Kevin Streelman: Got back on track with T-20 in Mexico, his third top-20 in his last four Tour starts. Owns a T-6 finish in Sea Island (2011).
19. J.J. Spaun: T-10 and T-14 in last two weeks on Tour. Opened in 68-65 before falling to T-57 finish last year at Sea Island.
20. Brian Stuard: Mixed bag here with three MCs and two top-25s. But he does own two top-10s in last three Tour starts.
21. Whee Kim: T-27 last year at Sea Island after an MDF in 2014. Ranks 16th in SGP. T-45 in Mexico was a step back after finishes of T-2, fourth in previous two Tour starts.
22. Beau Hossler: Making RSM debut but has yet to miss a cut in four Tour starts this season. T-10 and T-7 in two weeks before his T-34 last week in Mexico.
23. Camilo Villegas: T-2 last year at Sea Island and now perfect in five tries at RSM. Not a great putter, though, and his recent form has been OK – no MCs but just one top-20 in his last five starts.
24. John Huh: T-9 here in 2015 and hasn’t missed a cut in three RSM starts. T-25 last week in Mexico.
25. Stewart Cink: T-33 or better with two top-13s in four straight starts before MC in Mexico. Hadn’t finished better than T-32 here (five tries) until T-10 last year.