RSM Classic 2020 picks: The Sea Island local that our experts love
It will be easier to get over the disappointment that the Masters is over when we turn on our TVs and see the beautiful sights from Sea Island Resort this week for the RSM Classic. The tournament has one of its best fields in its history, and with just two more events left in 2020, some of us aren’t ready to let this great run of golf end!
This is the 24th straight week with a PGA Tour event, an amazing run since the June restart. Hopefully you’ve cashed some decent bets and DFS lineups while enjoying the great golf. Sure, none of our experts picked Dustin Johnson in this space last week, but that was a matter mostly of his value—he was nearly a co-favorite with Bryson DeChambeau. And none of our experts “faded” Dustin Johnson, so hopefully you cashed big, like our guest on our “Be Right” betting podcast this week, DFS expert Ryan Baroff. Baroff joined us (scroll down to listen to the pod) to break down this week’s RSM Classic, which we encourage you to listen to—considering he just cashed a six-figure payday in a DraftKings Masters contest.
Baroff isn’t the only sharp mind we’re bringing you this week. As usual, we’ve asked some of the brightest minds in the industry—Pat Mayo of DraftKings/Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com and Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com; plus an anonymous tour caddie reporting from the lovely range at Sea Island—to give their analysis for this week’s RSM Classic. This group went up more than 225 units last season, and we’re determined to end 2020 with some more cash.
Read on to see who we like this week at the 2020 RSM Classic.
RSM Classic 2020 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from PointsBet)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Russell Henley (22-1) — Henley’s been playing outstanding golf of late. He can flight his ball in the wind and should have a mental edge based on how well he’s playing lately. When he gets hot, he’s as good as anyone here.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Tyrrell Hatton (18-1) — Hatton’s the second ranked player in the field but over double Webb’s odds. That seems odd. Plus, he didn’t have to live through the pressure cooker that is the weekend at Augusta. He missed the cut. This is an irons and putting course, and that’s what Hatton does best. Additionally, this is usually winning time for him on the European Tour. Maybe he just loves November.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Harris English (25-1) — English has leveraged a great short game into some good finishes of late, and his longer-term ball-striking data isn’t off-the-charts good. That said, he still ranks eighth in strokes gained/tee to green over the past 50 rounds on tour, via FantasyNational.com). He’s 16th in Bermuda putting over a 100-round sample. That, plus balanced driving stats, is a great recipe for contending in this field.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Webb Simpson (9-1) — There used to be courses that “didn’t set up” well for Webb, but he seems to be shaking that notion. An impressive T-10 at the Masters last week in wet, soft conditions is just more evidence that Simpson’s game carries to more courses than we originally believed. Since the restart, Simpson has been stellar—gaining 1.52 strokes per round on the rest of his playing competitors. He’s already a winner twice this year, at the Waste Management Open and RBC Heritage, and comes to the RSM Classic hoping to break through. He’s had plenty of close calls at this event, including a runner-up finish last season and a third-place finish the previous year.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Denny McCarthy (66-1) — I do like Harris English, too, but I’m going to save him to pick at Mayakoba next week. Denny McCarthy has been nearly as impressively consistent as English, with top-10 finishes at the Bermuda, Sanderson Farms and Wyndham, and he’s more than double the price of English. McCarthy is fourth in this field in strokes gained on par 4s from 400-450 yards, which is a crucial distance this week. And of course he’s an elite putter, ranking second in this field on Bermuda over the past 50 rounds, both stats per Fantasy National. Add in a top-10 here last year, and I’m thinking this is a weekends going to be Denny’s.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Harris English (25-1) — There was a lot of talk about Daniel Berger not being in the Masters last week, and rightfully so. During the restart, and even before that, few players were playing better, and he had the victory at Colonial. Harris English, even though he hasn’t won since 2013, had just as strong a case as Berger’s. The Georgia alum has 10 finishes of 19th or better in his past 15 PGA Tour starts, including a fourth at Winged Foot and a runner-up in the Northern Trust. But, like Berger, he was at home watching the Masters on the couch last week. If that doesn’t motivate you, I’m not sure you have a pulse. English doesn’t have the greatest history at the RSM (two top 25s in eight starts), but with the way he’s played over the last few months, we’re betting his Sea Island mafia ties finally come in handy this week.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Henley (22-1) — Henley comes into this event ranked first in strokes gained/tee to green over the past two months in this field and also 10th for Opportunities Gained. Henley’s strong off-the-tee game and his ability to get a hot putter make him a threat to win here.
Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel predicted 14 winners correctly last season, and collectively on outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, our panel went up 225.30 units (the equivalent of being up $2,253 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets) last season. Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel correctly picked Patrick Cantlay last week at the Zozo Championship (30-1), giving our panel two outright winners this year, with Christopher Powers nailing Bryson DeChambeau (28-1 at the U.S. Open. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
RSM Classic 2020 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from PointsBet)
Caddie: C.T. Pan (66-1) — Coming off a great week at Augusta, you’ll hear a lot about the correlation to the Heritage and his win there. That’s for good reason with his stellar iron play.
Mayo: Austin Cook (70-1) — A former winner, Cook has begun to find his game again. The irons have been inconsistent, but when they’ve been clicking in the swing season, they’ve been out of control good. With a T-2/T-24 in his past two starts, Cook just needs to get the irons and putter on the same page for four rounds to have a decent shot to take this home again at a longer price than he was the first time.
Gehman: Brendon Todd (60-1) — Todd has a penchant to find just about every fairway, something that matters this week, and he’s 13th in the field in putting on Bermuda over the past 100 rounds. The irons have been shaky, but they weren’t particularly good entering his two November wins last year either. It’s not my usual recipe for a winner, but in this field, Todd has appeal.
Gehman: Denny McCarthy (66-1) — We are continuing to track the trajectory of McCarthy’s approach game, something that has greatly improved over the past four months. Per the RickRunGood.com database, McCarthy has gained a total of 11.99 strokes on approach in his past nine measured events. It’s easy to contrast that against his previous nine events before that stretch, which resulted in him losing a total of 23.65 strokes in the same category. That’s a major improvement in a relatively short period of time, and now he heads back to Sea Island, where he finished eighth last season.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Tringale (125-1) — This is the week to sprinkle the top end of the board. There are so many names worth throwing some cash on. I’m landing on Cameron Tringale. He’s been hot and cold, but these odds are worth banking on the hot. The putter’s been hot, gaining in seven straight measured events. And he has good finishes at Sea Island in the past, including a 20th in 2019 when he gained strokes in all four major categories.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Powers, Golf Digest: Patton Kizzire (80-1) — I was waffling on Kizzire, but then our “Be Right” podcast guest Ryan Baroff, who just won a cool $200,000 in a DraftKings Masters contest, sold me on him. The Auburn alum has sneakily come on strong of late, with a 24th at the Shriners and an 11th at the Houston Open. Most encouraging from his Houston Open performance was his around-the-green play (Kizzire gained 4.2 strokes/around the green), which will be key this week. He’s also a Sea Island guy, and he also missed the Masters last week, so he should be motivated. This is basically a carbon copy of my English pick at way better odds.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Lee Westwood (80-1) — Westwood has turned the clock back in the past few months. He has six top-20 finishes in his past nine events. These short courses suit his accurate, albeit not long, off-the-tee game.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1) — Sure, he had a good week last week, but Fleetwood tends to peak in the majors. His short game won’t be able to bail him out in some of the places he can find him in this week.
Mayo: Webb Simpson (9-1) — A playoff loss a year ago. A bronze medal the year before. Those are great results, but they don’t cash a winning ticket. Even though he’s the best player in the field, this is a steep price at course(s) that allow any type of game to prevail.
Gdula: Russell Henley (22-1) — This is less about Henley than it is the price. Henley’s in a pretty good spot overall at a set of courses that don’t require distance. He’s accurate and leads the field in strokes gained/approach over the past 50 rounds (via FantasyNational.com). However, he’s just a neutral putter on Bermuda but is being treated at his ceiling already at the price.
Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1) — Fleetwood has two top-10 finishes since golf’s restart, and both of them have come on the European Tour. His PGA Tour record isn’t nearly as exciting. He did finish T-19 at the Masters but failed to crack the top 50 at the ZOZO Championship and CJ Cup. In fact, he doesn’t have a top-15 on the PGA Tour in any of his past 10 starts, with his most recent such finish coming at the Honda Classic. Combine all that with the fact that Fleetwood is still looking for his first PGA Tour title, and it’s difficult to back him at this number.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1) — A cop-out pick, but look at the longer-term stats—Fleetwood has been really bad across the board. I’m rather bet on anyone else in this range other than Fleetwood.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tyrrell Hatton (18-1) — I think the Englishman is finally beginning to cool off. It’s been a fast and furious run to the end of the year for everyone, but especially so for Hatton. Sooner or later all these guys get burned out, no matter how good you are playing.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (20-1) — Im was absolutely brilliant last week at the Masters, but it must have taken a ton out of him, which is a shame as this place would suit his game. The fatigue will almost certainly catch up with him this week.
RSM Classic 2020 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Webb Simpson (-162) over Tommy Fleetwood (Bet365) — I’m willing to lay the heavy odds in this case. Put as many units as you’re comfortable with—this should be a slam dunk.
Mayo: Russell Henley (+100) over Harris English (DraftKings) — I actually had no interest this match up until I saw the juice at DraftKings Sportsbook. I have Henley rated slightly betting than English this week, and they have him as the underdog. Good enough for me.
Gdula: Sungjae Im (-110) over Tommy Fleetwood (FanDuel) — Im has a commanding edge in ball-striking data over Fleetwood, who holds the short-game edge. However, specifically on Bermuda greens, Im excels (gaining 0.42 strokes per round on the surface over 95 rounds, via FantasyNational.com). His best results come on Bermuda courses, and Fleetwood’s Augusta finish masks some longer-term imperfections.
Gehman: Peter Malnati (-106) over Patton Kizzire (DraftKings) — Malnati missed the cut in the first event of the 2021 season, but he’s been excellent ever since. He’s found the weekend in each of the four events that he’s played since, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship and a T-5 at the Shriners. Kizzire is coming off a T-11 at the Houston Open but hasn’t played well recently. He’s finished outside the top 40 in seven of his past nine starts.
Hennessey: Peter Malnati (-106) over Patton Kizzire (DraftKings) — I’m a fan of both of these guys—two of the nicest guys you’ll meet on the PGA Tour, so this one’s tough. But Kizzire’s strokes gained/approach numbers scare me. He’s 115th in strokes gained/approach over the past 50 rounds, and he rates out poorly in other stats: 142 in fairways gained; 126th in strokes gained on par 4s between 400-450 yards and 126th in opportunities gained. Malnati is slightly better in all those categories and is nearly equal to Kizzire’s phenomenal Bermuda putting splits.
Powers: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+105) over Sungjae Im (DraftKings) — I’m betting on a Sungjae Im letdown this week, though if anyone can avoid a letdown, it’s the machine-like South Korean. But even if Im plays well, Fitzpatrick can absolutely beat him given his strong history on windy, seaside courses. The Englishman has three top 25s in his career at Harbour Town, a course with big-time Sea Island similarities.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Henley (+100) over Sungjae Im (Bet365) — As mentioned in my fade, I’m worried about Sungjae’s fatigue, and Henley is my pick to win, so this is a smash spot.
Matchup Results from the Masters: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Rory McIlroy (+125) over Bryson DeChambeau); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Tony Finau); Powers: 1 for 1 (Brandt Snedeker (-110) over Lanto Griffin); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Dustin Johnson (-110) over Bryson DeChambeau); Hennessey: push (Jon Rahm (-137) over Brooks Koepka); Mayo, Gdula: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season: Alldrick: 8 for 10 (up 5.13 units); Hennessey: 6-2-1 (up 3.20 units); Mayo: 5 for 10 (down 0.23 units); Gdula: 5 for 10 (down 0.29 units); Powers: 3-2-5 (down 2.18 units); Gehman: 3 for 10 (down 3.98 units); Caddie: 2 for 9 (down 4.36 units).
RSM Classic 2020 picks: Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
Caddie: Harold Varner III (+850) — Another good ball-striker whose odds have been reduced after a couple recent disappointing finishes, but he’s still at the top end of this field, and should have odds closer to 5-to-1 or 6-to-1.
Mayo: Doug Ghim (+1200) — The Ghim Reaper’s now posted three top-25 finishes in four starts to open the 2021 season, gaining across the board in the strokes-gained metrics. In the past 12 rounds, only Russell Henley has gained more strokes per round tee to green.
Gdula: Doc Redman (+600) — Redman’s a great ball-striker who makes birdies (21st in the field in birdie or better rate gained over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.com). He finished 23rd here last year but comes in with significantly better recent form.
Gehman: Doc Redman (+600) — I was shocked to see numbers this long on Redman, who has been so close to winning. He’s earned top-five finishes at the Wyndham Championship, Safeway Open and Bermuda Championship. With a minimum of 20 rounds since the restart, only three other golfers in this field have gained more strokes on approach. He’s proving to have a skill-set, ball-striking, that will play nicely at many courses on the PGA Tour schedule. It just feels like a matter of time before he wins an event.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brian Harman (+550) — As Rick Gehman points out in our DFS picks article this week, Brian Harman has gained strokes on approaches in five straight events. That’s only the second time in the past five years he’s done that. Harman’s a sneaky pick to win this week, and his consistency should keep this top-10 bet in play.
Powers, Golf Digest: Scott Stallings (+1800) — Stallings has been hit or miss this fall (MC-6-MC-26-MC). I’m betting on a hit this week at RSM, where his famous stinger off the tee could play very well if it gets a little windy. He’s gained on approach in six of his past seven starts, and he has played well here in the past, with a pair of top-15s in seven career starts.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Knox (+1100) — Knox’s laser-like approach game shows itself on these short par-70 courses. He also comes in with a bit of form, too. He ranks fourth in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months, per Fantasy National.
Top 10 results from the Masters: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Cameron Smith +500); Everybody else: 0 for 1.
Top 10 results from this season: Gehman: 3 for 10 (up 12 units); Powers: 1 for 10 (up 4 units); Hennessey: 1 for 10 (down 4 units); Tour caddie: 2 for 10 (down 4.95 units); Alldrick: 0 for 9 (down 9 units); Mayo, Gdula: 0 for 10 (down 10 units each).
One and Done pick
Gehman: Webb Simpson — There’s no reason to overthink it—Simpson is going to be the favorite at a few events each year, and each of them will be well-deserved. This week is no exception as Simpson is the clear headliner to this event, he’s playing well and he’s had plenty of success at the RSM Classic in the past.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Masters: Rory McIlroy.
Hennessey: Brian Harman — Harman has been so consistent—11 straight made cuts. And he’s gained on approaches in his past five events, which will be key this week. The Sea Island resident is primed for a good finish. I’m tempted to take Webb, but I’d love to use him at either the Waste Management or RBC Heritage, so I’m pivoting here.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton.
Powers: Brian Harman — If we're leaning in on the Sea Island mafia narrative this week, I might as well use another mafia member, and another Georgia Bulldog, in this spot.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Masters: Bubba Watson.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
2 — The number of courses in use this week. Golfers will play one round on each the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course before the cut. All weekend rounds will be played on the Seaside Course.
19.6 — The average winning score under par over the past five years at the RSM Classic.
11 — The active cut streak for Brian Harman and Louis Oosthuizen, the longest streaks in this field. There are only four current streaks longer on the PGA Tour (McIlroy, Schauffele, Hovland and Rahm).
24.3 — The average finish for Austin Cook in his three trips to the RSM Classic (T61, T11, win). That’s the best of any player in this field with at least three starts.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing 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.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
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.