2019 RSM Classic expert picks: The Sea Island local our panel says you shouldn't be overlooking
All good things must come to an end—even our ridiculous run of picking winners on the PGA Tour. The wraparound season has been very profitable for our betting panel, the leading collection of handicappers in golf, and anyone tailing us. Here's a quick look at just how successful our panel has been: Collectively, picking outright winners (our experts make one pick to win, and one longshot to win), our panel is up 250 units through nine weeks (that's the equivalent of being up $2,500 on $10 bets). The success runs deeper: The panel is also up 3.17 units on all top-10 and matchup bets combined. So just like the fall season has been a resounding success, including an Asian Swing in which Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas all won tournaments, Golf Digest's betting panel is sorry to see it coming to an end.
There's still one more week for our expert panel to make you some money, which is what we're set to do. The panel this week includes a caddie offering insight from the range and putting green at the RSM Classic; two of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; picks from Jason Sobel, a senior writer at The Action Network, which is becoming the leader in sports betting and handicapping analysis, and it's growing its presence in golf; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, which tracks DFS ownership and sentiment; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
2019 RSM Classic Picks To Win (Odds from MGM Sportsbook)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the Week: Matt Kuchar (18-1) — The Sea Island resident is coming off a red hot 62 to close out last week in Mexico. This tournament ticks all the boxes for a Kuch setup: coastal course, Bermuda greens/fairways and some wind in the forecast. Plus, the relief of getting through with the Mayakoba week will surely free him up to play some good golf.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Russell Henley (50-1) — Henley is in an excellent position to rebound at the RSM as long as he remembers which balls he’s supposed to play. Henley was cruising last week at Mayakoba before being assessed so many penalty strokes for playing the wrong ball he ended up missing the cut. Previous to that, Henley has made seven cuts in a row, and sports three top-10 finishes in Sea Island in his past four starts.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire editor: Adam Hadwin (28-1) — Simpson deserves to be the favorite, but Hadwin offers better value at his longer win odds. Hadwin hasn’t had great success at Sea Island, but that doesn’t always matter for this venue’s eventual winner. Hadwin is an accurate driver and owns good ball-striking numbers, all while rating out as a strong Bermuda putter.
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Kevin Kisner (22-1) — Two shorter venues where accuracy off the tee and putting is key? The RSM Classic shouts Kevin Kisner's name. The stats make him the second most likely player to win in my model (Webb Simpson is No. 1, but his 8-1 odds are too low to suggest him), and being a past champion here with some success earlier in the year, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Kiz end the year lifting a second trophy.
Jason Sobel, Action Network senior golf writer: Scottie Scheffler (28-1) — According to Golfodds.com, Scheffler opened his PGA Tour rookie season at 40-1 for the Greenbrier Classic, which sounds like an aggressive number for a player who’d just gotten his card, but those odds were 10th lowest of any player, where he eventually finished T-7. In his next start, Scheffler opened at 25-1 for the Sanderson Farms (tied for fourth-lowest), then finished T-16. From there, he's been inconsistent (T-74 at hte Shriners, T-28 in Houston). But he finished T-3 in Bermuda and T-18 at Mayakoba. The rookie has certainly met expectations so far and while his odds are probably in just about the right spot for him now, it feels like there’s still some value in being tied for the seventh-lowest number on the board. He’s going to win, and I think he’s going to win soon. For a player who’s fared well in the big leagues so far, there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it this week.
Golf Digest editors: Billy Horschel (14-1) — Keep riding the hot hand with Horschel. He's been one of the best players on tour over the past month or so: He has two top-10s in his past three events, gaining more than 8.5 strokes on the field in those performances, per FantasyNational.com. He lost in a playoff a couple years ago at Sea Island: He'll almost certainly be a factor this weekend if he's on the right end of the weather draw.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports golf expert: Matt Kuchar (18-1) — Kuch ranks eighth in our courses-suitability metric this week and third in the field for strokes gained/putting on fast Bermuda greens. Easy courses with easy-to-hit fairways are his forte. His 62 in the final round last week shows he has knocked off any rust following his long break.
Results from this season: We have correctly predicted six of the winners in the nine tournaments we've forecasted! FanShare Sports' Lee Alldrick picked Rory McIlroy at the WGC-HSBC Champions, giving him three winning predictions early in the season. FanDuel's Brandon Gdula also has three victories, netting +127 units in less than two months (the equivalent of being up $1,270 on $10 bets). Three members of our expert panel correctly picked the favorite a couple weeks ago at the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas (8-1), so we have a lot of positive momentum—with 11 correct outright predictions in nine events. Check out everyone's records in the betting card above.
Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win at the 2019 RSM Classic (odds from MGM Sportsbook)
Caddie: Robert Streb (100-1) — A past winner here at the RSM, Streb has a game suited for this course. He hits a low, penetrating flight, and he putts it well, which will come in handy for these extremely undulating greens.
Mayo: Joel Dahmen (66-1) — Dahmen stormed the leader board a week ago for his second top-10 in his past four starts, and he has excellent history at the crossover courses. Dahmen has never missed at cut at the Wyndham and was T-16 at Heritage last season, two corollary courses in my modeling.
Gdula: Andrew Landry (150-1) — Landry rates out 16th in strokes gained/approach and fourth in fairways gained over a 50-round sample, according to FantasyNational. Those are vital stats this week. He also checks the box as a good Bermuda putter and has finished fourth and 59th here over the past two years.
Riccio: Sam Ryder (125-1) — My model refuses to give up on Sam Ryder. And we continue to see splashes of success from him, which is reason enough to back him. He has gained strokes off-the-tee in four of the six strokes-gained measured events he's played in this fall season and has gained on approaches in three of those events. Consistency has been an issue, but I don't want to miss out when he puts it all together.
Sobel: Ben Martin (200-1) — It should go without saying that if I like a guy as a potential one-and-done selection, then I similarly like him for a top-20 bet and low-end DFS play. Martin won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2013, then on the PGA Tour the next year in Las Vegas, but his game has fallen on hard times in recent years. Even with a T-20 last week, he’s only 881st in the world, which doesn’t feel like much of a sure thing. But that includes opening rounds of 67-69-66 before a final-round 72 and a ball-striking performance that left him T-6 for greens in regulation. I won’t pretend to have all the answers to his long-term capabilities, but this price is attractive.
Golf Digest editors: Vaughn Taylor (50-1) — Sea Island suits Taylor's game just as well as Mayakoba did. Sure, it was heartbreaking to leave that 12-footer in the heart of the hole to narrowly miss being in a playoff against Brendon Todd. But to a larger point, Taylor's performance backed up what we've been seeing in his stats of late, so it wasn't really a surprise. Just as much as it wouldn't be a surprise to see him replicate his hot play in Mexico to Georgia.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Austin Cook (80-1) — Cook ranks third in our courses suitability metric this week and 19th in the field this week for SGP on fast Bermuda greens. A 17th two events ago shows his game is sharp right now.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Brendon Todd (28-1) — This fairytale comeback sure has been fun to watch, but it has to end somewhere. I don't think he contends this week. To be honest, I'm shocked he even made the trip, but can you blame him for wanting to continue capitalizing on this run?
Mayo: Alex Noren (30-1) — Noren is just too expensive based on his last year of play. He should really be in the 70-1 range, but is getting a name value bump in a weaker field. Pass.
Gdula: Charles Howell III (22-1) — Howell is a great putter, but that’s not enough to make him stand out at this price. Last year’s winner is priced up despite ranking outside the top 100 in both approach and driving accuracy over the past 50 rounds.
Riccio: Adam Hadwin (28-1) — The Canadian has had three top-five finishes since July, two of them in the fall, which is why his odds are so low. He has never really proven to be a great seaside links player, so I'm willing to fade him. My model makes his expected odds around 70-1, so that's reason to stay away.
Sobel: Brendon Todd (28-1) — Don’t shoot the messenger. Only big-time superstars have won three in a row over the past two decades. Not only am I fading Todd for a win, I’ve got to believe his recent run of success will force him to hit a wall at some point, the physical and emotional strain of winning twice in three weeks at some point leading to a few higher scores.
Golf Digest editors: Russell Knox (33-1) — We're simply not confident at all in recommending Knox here. You'd think the Scotsmen be a good fit for Sea Island's coastal layout. He has no top-25s here in four appearances. There are too many other players we'd rather back with better course history and recent form.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Knox (33-1) — Knox ranks 83rd in our courses-suitability metric this week and also 98th for strokes gained/putting on fast Bermuda greens. Two big reasons to fade.
2019 RSM Classic: Matchups
Caddie: Harris English (+125) over Charles Howell III (Sportbet) — CH3 is currently has the odds to beat English, but despite CH3 being the defending champ, it's hard to ignore English's past few months of form. Plus they've made some major changes to the Plantation course, so some of the past course advantages will be negated.
Mayo: Russell Henley (-110) over Denny McCarthy (Sportsbook) — As long as McCarthy doesn’t have one of these ultra-hot strokes-gained/putting weeks, Henley should make quick work of him.
Gdula: Adam Hadwin (-108) over Kevin Kisner (FanDuel) — Kisner had been trending up before a disappointing Asia swing. Hadwin also had himself one of those, yet Hadwin has the better individual stats profile and is part of the best matchup I can find. I’m heavy on Hadwin.
Riccio: Vaughn Taylor (-130) over Brice Garnett (Sportbet) — The odds aren't attractive, but the matchup is. My model makes Taylor an even heavier favorite, so ride the hot hand and collect your loot.
Sobel : — Brian Harman (+120) over Adam Hadwin (Sportsbook) Hey, we can’t preview a Southeast event with Bermuda greens and not mention Harman, who’s made a career of feasting on these types of tracks. His recent results aren’t too exciting, but the Georgia Bulldog owns two career top-10s here and – more importantly – probably owns more value at this event than he has in the past. This is a classic buy-low scenario that’s safe for matchups and even owns some potential for outrights.
Golf Digest editors: Brendon Todd (+105) over Aaron Wise (Sportbet) — It doesn't feel wise to fade Todd right now (forgive us for the awful, unintended pun). But Todd is playing like one of the best players in the world right now. Why wouldn't you take plus-odds against a player in Wise who hasn't done much lately?
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Hadwin (-110) over Aaron Wise (Betway) — Hadwin ranks fifth in my model this week, Wise ranks 28th. Hadwin has made his past six cuts. Wise has made just one of his past three.
Matchup results last week: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Danny Lee (-110) over Harold Varner III); Gdula and Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Emiliano Grillo (-116) over Aaron Wise); Sobel: 1 for 1 ( Brian Stuard (-135) over Charley Hoffman)
Matchup results this season (assuming each matchup is a one-unit wager): Tour Caddies: 5 for 6 (up 3.82 units); Alldrick, FanShare Sports: 6 for 8 (up 2.85 units); Mayo: 6 for 9 (up 2.73 units); Riccio: 4 wins, 4 losses, 1 push (up 0.14 units); Action Network: 4 for 8 (down 0.50 units); Gdula: 4 for 9 (down 1.45 units); GD Editors: 4 for 8 (down 1.57 units).
Caddie: Austin Cook (+700) — He's been out of form for a while now, but being a past champion could bring back some good vibes. He's also recently changed loopers. He's got a good friend Matt on the bag from his hometown (Jonesboro, Ark.).
Mayo: Rory Sabbatini (+600) — After a series of finishes in the 30s, Sabbatini gets track that fits his game a little better. Per FantasyNational.com data modeling, Sabbatini has the best skill fit of any player in the field over the past 50 rounds. With Top 10s at both crossover courses already this year, why not roll it back again?
Gdula: Rory Sabbatini (+600) — Sabbatini’s form has been quite good overall in 2019, and he actually leads the entire field in strokes gained/tee to green over a 50-round sample, according to FantasyNational. Sabbatini also owns good birdie rates, which is important for this course.
Riccio: J.J. Spaun (+1400) — Spaun's ball flight is one of the lower ones on tour, and I like his ability to get hot with the putter. He's highly accurate off the tee three great attributes to playing well at Sea Island.
Sobel: Doc Redman (+1200) — It’s not just that Shelton finished T-6 last week in Mayakoba, it’s his overall game, as he ranked T-4 in greens in regulation and 19th in putting average. He now owns two top-10s in seven starts since getting a PGA Tour card and his track record shows that the University of Alabama product plays some of his best golf in the Southeastern states, with two Korn Ferry Tour victories in Tennessee earlier this year.
Golf Digest editors: Joel Dahmen (+700) — Dahmen has two top-10s in the past two months, with some impressive stats in his last round with strokes-gained stats: He gained 8.1 strokes on the field at the Shriners and 3.2 strokes on approach. At these deeper odds, give us someone who is one of the more impressive ball-strikers in this field, as he should be able to control his ball in the potential wind at Sea Island.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Tringale (+800) — Tringale has made his past five cuts in a row, ranking second in the process for strokes gained/tee-to-green over the last two months. He also ranks top 25 in the field this week for courses suitability and strokes-gained/putting on fast Bermuda greens.
Top 10 results last week: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results for the year (assuming a one-unit wager): Top-10 results for the year (assuming a one-unit wager): Mayo: 1 for 8 (up 8 units); Alldrick: 2 for 9 (up 5.5 units); Gdula 2 for 9 (up 1.3 units); GD Editors: 2 for 9 (down 0.15 units); Action Network: 1 for 9 (down 4.5 units); Riccio: 1 for 9 (down 5.5 units); Tour Caddie: 0 for 8 (down 8 units)
Mayo: It’s a tough week to spend up, but Webb Simpson is the guy. The price will keep the ownership down, and any shorter course on Bermuda greens almost makes him an auto play, especially against a glorified Korn Ferry strength of field. Then you can book end with David Hearn. The Canadian hits all the fairways and in a week where over 80 players may miss the cut, the who’s made five of six weekends this season becomes ever more value in a week like this.
Here's who I'd build my lineups around on DraftKings this week: Webb Simpson ($11,600); Russell Henley ($PRICE); Joel Dahmen ($PRICE); Rory Sabbatini ($7,900); David Hearn ($7,000).
Riccio: The top three of this build is easy for me: These are three of the top four players in my model. Webb, Kisner and ZJ's games match up really well for Sea Island: They put a priority on accuracy, and their strengths are approach play and putting. That's the key to success here. You'll have to get a bit creative if you use Webb at the top end. He has enough win equity for me to go with him.
Webb Simpson ($11,600); Kevin Kisner ($9,800); Zach Johnson ($9,000); Sam Ryder ($6,700); J.J. Spaun ($6,600); Tim Wilkinson ($6,000).
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: I’m not enamored by many of the high priced golfers this week other than Adam Hadwin and Matt Kuchar. Therefore, I’m happy to go with a balanced lineup to give myself as much chance as possible of getting six of six through: Matt Kuchar ($10,600); Adam Hadwin ($9,600); Austin Cook ($7,800); Ryan Armour ($7,700); Cameron Tringale ($7,200); Luke List ($6,900).
FanShare Sports' Under The Radar DFS Pick of the Week — Ryan Armour (FanDuel: $9,700; DraftKings: $7,700) — Armour comes into this event off the back of three decent finishes, all inside the top 35, including an eighth-place two events ago. It’s not surprising then to see that he ranks 10th for Shots Gained Tee to Green over the last two months and eighth for Opportunities Gained over the same period. He also ranks 24th in our course suitability metric mainly due to his excellent play on easy courses with easy to hit fairways.
Gdula: Webb Simpson ($11,800) sets up as an anchor play in all formats. There’s some merit to avoiding him in tournaments, though his cut odds are so high that we’re not gaining significant leverage. Lanto Griffin ($7,400) comes in underpriced and allows us to spend up for just about any golfer we want. It’s a take-your-pick type of week if you go with Griffin. Adam Hadwin ($10,100), Rory Sabbatini ($9,900), and J.T. Poston ($9,800) rate out as strong mid-range plays.
Riccio: We get to use the top four players in my model, which is a build I'd suggest starting with. Then you can go anywhere from there. I trust Sam Ryder's stellar off-the-tee stats, and J.J. Spaun is a highly accurate approach player who has a tendency to get a hot putter.
Webb Simpson ($11,800); Kevin Kisner ($11,000); Zach Johnson ($10,300); Aaron Wise ($10,200); Sam Ryder ($8,400); J.J. Spaun ($8,300).
About our experts
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.
Pat Mayo is known as one of the pre-eminent experts in daily-fantasy sports and golf handicapping specifically. Mayo is a 17-time fantasy sports-writers association finalist, the most of any writer this decade, and Mayo won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com. Here’s a link to watch his complete DraftKings preview of the 2019 Wyndham Championship.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Jason Sobel is a senior writer for The Action Network. For more golf content from The Action Network, click here.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.
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