Fantasy Advice

RSM Classic DFS picks 2023: Can a short hitter still win at Sea Island?

November 14, 2023
CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 23: Eric Cole of the United States plays his shot from the fifth tee during the second round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 23, 2023 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The final event of the PGA Tour’s fall campaign will be played over two familiar courses on the Sea Island Resort. Each golfer will play one round at both the Seaside and Plantation courses, a cut will be made, then the Seaside course will host the final two rounds.

Last year, as usual, the Plantation Course presented plenty of scoring opportunities. As a par 72, it played 2.24 strokes under par. The Seaside Course, a par 70, played 1.01 strokes under par. This week precision will be more important than power as past winners have found themselves often playing out of the fairway—with iron play being paramount to success as evidenced by recent winners Adam Svensson and Talor Gooch. This is truly one of the remaining events on the schedule where longer hitters don't have a huge advantage over the fairway-finders. Despite super wide fairways on this resort course, there is still a premium on not missing big off the tee—thus leading to winners like Robert Streb and Kevin Kisner.

Private
Sea Island: Seaside
Saint Simons Island, GA, United States
The Sea Island resort continues to credit famed British golf architect H.S. Colt for its Seaside design, but in truth it was never purely Colt's design. It was the work of Colt's partner, Charles Alison, who traveled to the U.S. and beyond in the 1920s and 30s while Colt remained in England. But the Seaside Course isn't even Alison's anymore--it is purely Tom Fazio, who incorporated Alison's original Seaside nine (today's 10-18) along with a nine (the Marshland Nine) designed in 1974 by Joe Lee, to create a totally new 18- hole course. But in keeping with the resort’s heritage, Fazio styled his new course in the design fashion of Alison, with big clamshell bunkers, smallish putting surfaces and exposed sand dunes off most of the windswept fairways. The Seaside Course has hosted numerous USGA championships and has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour’s early season roster.
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Here are all the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 RSM Classic:

Golfers I'm Definitely Playing

JT Poston ($9,300 DraftKings)

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Orlando Ramirez

Poston has been splendid, gaining 1.51 strokes per round in his past 36 rounds. That’s the second-best mark of anyone in this field (Henley), per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Those gains have resulted in five straight top-25 finishes and five top 10s in his past eight starts. His results at the RSM Classic are a bit concerning, but I’m willing to overlook most of that for his recent form.

Eric Cole ($9,000 DraftKings)

It’s been a truly impressive season for Cole who has piled up top-25 finishes all year long, and he seems to be only getting stronger. His last four starts have produced three top-four finishes, all coming this fall. His skill-set up approach play plus putting is dangerous when he’s firing on all cylinders, which seems to be happening frequently in 2023.

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Billy Horschel ($8,400 DraftKings)

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Luke Walker

Horschel is officially out of his slump, earning four top-20 finishes in his past five starts. He’s played his last three events on the DP World Tour, where he is combining top-end tee-to-green play with his usually solid putting. He’s only played this event four times, and he hasn’t made the trip since 2019, but he did finish T-2 in 2016.

Will Gordon ($6,900 DraftKings)

Gordon has so much talent but has struggled to find consistency during his career. Right now he’s playing well, finishing T-21 at the Zozo Championship and following it up with a T-15 in Cabo. In his three trips to Sea Island, he’s earned two top-15 finishes. This is a nice convergence of improved play and course history for a talented scorer.

Davis Thompson ($7,800 DraftKings)

Thompson keeps chugging along, finishing in the top 35 in seven of his past eight starts—including five straight appearances. He’s been propelled by his tee-to-green play, where he has gained four-plus strokes to the field in four straight measured events. He’ll need to add a stroke or two with the flatstick, and if he does, he’ll be in contention this week.

Golfers I Might Play

Ludvig Aberg ($10,900 DraftKings)

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Orlando Ramirez

Shocker, I know. The best player in the field has four straight top-15 finishes all over the globe. There’s a chance this might be one of the best courses for his game. His rare combination of elite power and accuracy might allow him to gain significantly off the tee and separate himself from the rest of the field.

Denny McCarthy ($8,700 DraftKings)

McCarthy is a bit of a wildcard for me—making his first start since the BMW Championship. His advanced metrics at the end of the season were all over the place, but he did earn four top-10 finishes in his last eight starts. His history in Sea Island offers up two top 10s in his past four trips, and he has made four of his last five cuts.

Adam Svensson ($8,600 DraftKings)

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Hector Vivas

Svensson will enter this week as the defending champion and has played well this fall. His four starts have yielded two top-18 finishes, and he’s currently in the midst of a 10-event cut streak—one of the longest active streaks on tour.

Nate Lashley ($7,100 DraftKings)

Lashley has missed only one cut in his last nine starts and is proving to be a talented scorer. He’s inside the top 40 in birdie or better percentage this season; he just needs to clean up a few crooked numbers at times. He continues to show improvements in his ball-striking metrics and has been an above-average putter for the better part of 2023.

Austin Cook ($6,700 DraftKings)

Cook has snapped out of a slump with back-to-back top-13 finishes in Bermuda and Cabo. He’s gone very low at times, showing his ability to put plenty of circles on his card. Now he returns to Sea Island where he won in 2017.

Private
Sea Island: Plantation
Saint Simons Island, GA, United States
3.7
108 Panelists
Sea Island’s golf courses have a long and rather convoluted history covering nearly 100 years of expansion, reconfiguration and renovations. Through it all, the historic Seaside has been the one that people schedule their visits around, full of holes that skirt Saint Simons Sound, the intracoastal marshes and sandy dunes refurbished by Tom Fazio in the late 1990s. The Plantation course, which started as a combination of one nine designed by Walter Travis in the 1920s and another from Dick Wilson in 1960, and synthesized together by Rees Jones in the 1990s, has typically played second fiddle. Not so much now. Keying on the original forms and concepts laid out by Travis, the Sea Island-based team of Mark and Davis Love III, along with lead architect Scot Sherman, stripped Plantation in 2019 and rebuilt it as a homage to early Golden Age design with deep coffin bunkers and squared-off plateau greens. The staggered bunkers eat into the broad fairways at intervals to set up zig-zag angles and others have been introduced as dastardly centerline hazards, like the Principals Nose feature on the short, drivable 10th that replaces a long bending par 4 in order to make room for a massive putting course near the resort clubhouse. Other holes were broken up and recombined to better fit the property’s small footprint and create more sporting half-par holes. There’s even a touch of Pete Dye in the design in the use of bulkheading, small pot bunkers and S-shaped tee-to-green strategies. Guests will still instinctively gravitate toward Seaside and the long water views, but if they skip over Plantation they’ll miss a course jazzing it up on the opposite side of the architectural spectrum, and one of the more interesting designs in the southeast.
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Golfers I'm Fading

Cameron Young ($10,600 DraftKings)

There’s definitely enough concern in Young’s game to avoid paying this price. He ended last season by losing significant strokes on approach in three straight events then finished T-54 in Cabo for his lone start this fall. His distance off the tee might go unused around these courses, and he will struggle if he cannot be precise on his second shot.

Si Woo Kim ($9,100 DraftKings)

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Michael Owens

Kim has been tinkering with different putters in 2023, but his metrics aren’t showing much improvement. He’s lost strokes putting in six of his last seven starts, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. His four trips to Sea Island haven’t yielded much to be excited about—a T-18 in 2015 then three consecutive missed cuts.

Stephan Jaeger ($8,800 DraftKings)

Jaeger always gets respect in terms of DFS pricing, but he’s a tough name to click this week. He has made an astonishing 16 cuts in a row but only has one top 10 to show for it. He’s routinely finishing between 25th and 45th on the leaderboard, which isn’t enough upside at this price. He’s also missed the cut in two of his last three appearances at Sea Island.

Taylor Montgomery ($7,600 DraftKings)

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Hector Vivas

It’s been an improvement this fall for Montgomery, but the bar is quite low. He’s lost strokes ball-striking in 14 of his past 15 measured events and has become completely reliant on his putter. That is a combination that rarely provides prolonged success.

Cameron Champ ($7,600 DraftKings)

Champ’s firepower will be wasted around these two courses, and his inaccuracy off-the-tee can certainly bring in some big numbers. He’s missed two of his last three cuts at the event and will be trying to solve the puzzle this week with pieces that don’t quite match up.

Rick Gehman, 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.