DFS Golf: Fall Swing Favorites – The RSM Classic

We have one final event before the PGA tour wraps it up until the Tournament of Champions in January and it’s the RSM Classic down in Sea Island Golf Club on the coast in Georgia! 

My name is Josh Thomas, and I am a PGA Coach here at DFS Army as well as an NFL Contributor and I write the Chalk Donkey article weekly for our VIPs. I’m changing up the format a bit for the fall swing and providing you with my Fall Swing Favorites, which will be my favorite plays each week taking into account ownership, projections, and game theory.

Last week was quite an interesting week for me with 2 of my 3 core plays in this article absolutely smashing. We nailed the Matt Kuchar call and while I expected him to play well, the win was quite the cherry on top for me in GPP where I had quite a bit of him. I also had Emiliano Grillo as a core play and he had a great start but faded a little as the week went on, including a double bogey on the very last hole of the tournament that dropped him out of the top ten. Our other core play of Kevin Streelman was a ‘I should have known better’ moment. I NEVER get him right. So the next time I write him up, just go ahead and ignore it and fade him. This really was a great spot for him and his price was perfect for what we needed him to do. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t avoid the big name and while he made plenty of birdies, he couldn’t make up enough ground to get inside the cut line.

I was also a week early on Brice Garnett and while he was in the player pool with the tagline of “loves this part of the world, grass surface” I didn’t have enough of him as I normally would have if I was MME’n instead of playing Single Entry/3 max.

My cash line was maybe the worst one I ever compiled, but my GPP lineups ended up saving my week and getting me a net positive and almost a really good week if Joaquinn Niemann and Brandon Harkins could have had good weekends.

Course Breakdown:

This week we have to break down two courses, as the RSM Classic plays at Sea Island Golf resort and players split between the coastal ‘Seaside’ course and the inland ‘Plantation’ course in rounds 1 and 2 and then if they make the cut, the play the ‘seaside’ course for both rounds 3 and 4.

Sea Island is home to a bevy of tour professionals including Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Keith Mitchell, Davis Love III, Kevin Kisner, and Brian Harman. It has turned into one of the ‘it’ places to live for golf professionals because of the beautiful facilities, coaches based out of there, and the camaraderie of playing and training with other pros in their off months. The group refers to themselves as the ‘Sea Island Mafia’.

The ‘seaside’ course is the one that we need to spend the most amount of time analyzing at it is the course that the players will play 3 rounds on if they are able to make the cut. The course comes in at 7005 yards and is a par 70. As with any par 70, par 4 scoring will be essential here and with it being so short we actually have quite a few par 4’s come in right around 410 yards, which is short for tour standards.

Last year’s version of this event saw Austin Cook win with a score of -21 which was 4 strokes clear of the next closest competitor (J.J. Spaun). One notable thing that Cook did really well last year was score on the Par 5’s. He was 6/6 in birdies on the par 5’s at the Seaside course. He was also fourth in fairways hit and second in greens in regulation for the week. With the Seaside course being affected by the wind, getting the ball in the fairway and on the large green complexes is fairly difficult and there is a massive premium placed on it this week.

The greens here are larger than average which helps with the green in regulation percentage so that’s not necessarily a stat we should put a ton of weight in, I’d much rather look at Strokes Gained – Approach. Greens at both courses are Bermuda overseeded with rye. They should be fairly slow and a little bumpy at times. Fairways are also Bermuda with TifEagle Bermuda at Seaside which is a tour pro favorite.

There is less emphasis placed on distance here than basically any course on tour. The shorter, accurate guys off the tee, and the players who are excellent in approach game typically excel here. If we look at last year’s leaderboard names like Brian Gay, Zach Johnson, and JJ Spaun, all notable short hitters topped the leaderboard while bombers like Bubba Watson, Scott Stallings, and Keith Mitchell all finished in the bottom 15.

The Plantation course is an absolute birdie fest. The players last year played it almost a stroke and a half under par. It is a 7058-yard par 72 and as such the tour pros feasted. Three of the four par 5’s had less than 10 bogeys on them, and the 18th had 20 EAGLES. So what does that mean for us? It means that we HAMMER guys playing here for showdown in rounds 1 and 2, especially if the wind is going to pick on the Seaside Course.

This course played over a half shot easier than the seaside course each day last year and in showdown, if we load up on guys (our entire lineup) we are at a huge advantage over the field, who just play the names they know in rounds 1 and 2 anyways. I’ll have notes in my coaching channel each day with guys who are playing on this course so we can jump on them for showdown purposes.

This tournament is typically a birdie fest that has accurate guys off the tee with great iron games rise to the top. Getting a hot putter also helps. Let’s take a look at the RS and see if we can start identifying who fits that mold and begin building our player pool for the week.

Key Stats this Week:

In this section, I’ll cover what I feel are some of the key stats this week. We get lots of questions in slack about what to look for in the RS and here are some of the things that I’ll be focusing on this week for the RSM Classic.

One thing I like to look at first before we get into the key stats is the Results by Stokes Gained tab and averages by finish on the RS.

In event, it looks pretty much like what we expected. Strokes Gained off the tee isn’t quite as important as it is most weeks, but strokes gained approach, as long as it is positive, looks like it should be something we target. Putting well during the week pays off big dividends as well, so it may be good to look at guys who gain strokes on bermuda.

When we look at the averages by finish tab, its pretty clear to see that guys who are gaining strokes approach throughout the season, typically do better here. Distance plays really no role, but accuracy does.

So overall, the type of golfer we want to target is someone who is an accurate driver of the golf ball, gains strokes approach, and if he’s a good putter thats just a bonus.

Value Tab: 

The next thing that we look at is the value tab. Who is popping as a value this week? This is pretty easy to find as the better the value, the darker the green box. The value tab looks at Vegas odds and our projections, versus the salary FanDuel or Draftkings, have assigned to that player.

Who did Joel Dahmen piss off at Draftkings? He is this fall’s Tony Finau in that he continues to be criminally underpriced. All he’s done this fall is make every single cut. He hasn’t ever really contended but at $6900 on Draftkings that’s really all you need him to do to hit value. He is essentially a cash game lock at this price.

I love to see Joaquin Niemann here coming off a slightly disappointing weekend in Mexico. He’s priced around some of the guys who are going to be fairly chalky and that should depress his ownership and he has a perfect skill set to win here.

Steward Cink is getting a lot of love this week as he has the skill set that’s required here but it’s interesting that the results don’t really show it. He only has one top ten and multiple missed cuts at this event. Not something I’m very interested in.

Sam Ryder is a guy that I’m going to be all over at $8600 this week. I really like the idea of a balanced build here and he fits that and brings winning upside.

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 25 rounds)

SG: Approach is going to be key here this week. I want to look at the last 25 rounds because I think that takes out some of the variance in it and should give us a good idea who is been hitting the irons well the last few months. At this course with the big, undulating greens you want to pick golfers who are able to hit it tight or in the right area at least, and SG: App can help us do that.

David Hearn tops the list here and he is a really sneaky GPP option this week. He’s likely to be low single digit or even under 1% owned and has never finished worse than 44th here, including a 17th last year and a 9th three years ago.  He has a great approach game, and his distance off the tee won’t hurt him this week. If he can get that cheater putter going this week he really has a chance to have a good week. Form isn’t great with a 86th at the Safeway Open and a missed cut at the Sanderson Farms, but he returns to a course that he’s had success at and really fits his game. Strictly a GPP play but one I really like.

Dahmen, Ryder and Cink all pop here not surprisingly and so does another Canadian in Mackenzie Hughes who is a former winner here. Hughes has some pretty awful form coming in but may be worth a shot in GPP.

Fantasy Points/Medium Par 4’s

With a ridiculous 9 holes coming in at this range, medium par 4 scoring is going to be huge.

When I originally sorted this a bunch of new guys popped up, but it’s important to note that we don’t have a ton of data on them. If you look at the left of the Fantasy Scoring Stats there’s a column that says ‘holes’ if that is shaded red it means that we don’t have a significant sample size for that player. There were some guys that popped there that I really like this week (Kramer Hickok being one) but eliminated them from this sort because the sample is just too small.

Zach Johnson is a course pro who lives here and if you have played DFS Golf long enough, you know that he crushes par 4’s. Brian Harman is coming off a nice week and is also a pro here. And dang it would you look at that so is Andrew Landry. No wonder these guys are based out of here. They crush this type of course. All are in play this week.

I don’t really like the idea of paying up this week, but Webb Simpson seems like a good option given his history of performing well on Par 4’s and his excellent course history. The concerns I have with Webb is that his putter is starting to slowly go again and his off the tee game has been fairly poor recently as well. He essentially needs to top 5 at his price, for him to hit value and I don’t know that I love him to do that this week.

Other key stats to consider this week, that I’ll get into in my breakdown of the field:

SG: Off the Tee, Driving Accuracy,  Double Bogey or worse %, Birdies Gained, Greens in Regulation %, Fantasy Points Gained and Projected Course Score 

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Fall Swing Favorites:

Typically, each week I write a chalk donkey article, breaking down who the chalk is and where you can pivot, but through the fall swing I’m going to be trying out a new format where I give you my three favorite plays in each tier as well as the other players I’m considering and those I’m fading. Chalk in the fall swing almost always has to be eaten due to the fields being not as strong as a normal tour event. I’ll also include my projection of the three highest owned players in each tier, along with my full player pool at the end.

Tiers: 

I utilize Draftkings pricing, but these are applicable to any site usually.

High: Salary of 9K and UP

Mid: Salary of 7.5K – 9K

Low: Below 7K

 

High:

To be honest, everyone here feels overpriced or they are going to be massively owned. I get that the field strength isn’t great here, but I hate paying this sort of premium on a guy who is either extremely volatile or massive chalk. There is one guy I have interest in that doesn’t necessarily fit the mold here as he is what you would consider a ‘bomber’ but he has had some of his best performances on similar courses to this one where distance isn’t necessary.

Luke List: DK $9200/FD $10,100 

List provides one of the best values in the 9k range at likely the lowest ownership. He’s not the typical type of player you would try to target here given his stereotype as only a ‘bomber’ but he has shown in the past that some of his best performances have come on courses that are ‘less than driver’ courses.

He was T3 at the RBC Heritage and 2nd at the Honda Classic, both less than driver courses that have had winners that have won here as well. List has played here twice with a T13 two years ago, and a MC the year before that. List is also coming in with some decent form. He was T4 at the Safeway Open, and while MC’d last week at the Mayakoba he did make 6 birdies and eagle and just couldn’t avoid a big number. He actually putted well which is not something we usually see.

It’s hard to quantify why List performs well on these courses especially when you consider his driving accuracy. What it comes down to though is that since he is so long he can club down on the tee and find the fairway. He is also one of the best in the field when it comes to Greens in Regulation %. I also love the Aggressive shot % for him. That means he’s likely to go for it in two on the two par 5’s. There aren’t a ton of scoring opportunities here and if he is able to have some looks at eagle, all the better for us.

If he can have a decent week putting, and club down off the tee, I think that we could see a really big week for him. He is by no means a cash play, but in GPP I love loading up on List.

Other options in this tier: Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, Austin Cook, C.T. Pan, Austin Cook, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, JJ Spaun (likely mega chalk, and if you want to fade it that’s fine by me)

Fades in this tier: Webb Simpson, Cameron Champ (likely to be chalky and he has been playing great, but his approach game hasn’t been what it likely needs to be to be contend here)

Projected Chalk (highly owned): CT Pan, JJ Spaun, Russell Henley 

Mid:

Sam Ryder: DK $8600/FD $9900 

This is another tough range with lots of options and none really standing out other than Joaquin Niemann who is an obvious play and will be one of my highest owned players this week. The other is Sam Ryder. I don’t love the DK price here but I’m willing to pay it given what he has been able to do lately with his iron game.

Over his last ten rounds, Ryder has had 4 rounds where he gained more than one and a half a strokes approach and has only lost strokes twice in the last ten rounds, and even then, just barely.

Ryder really checks all the boxes for me here. Accurate off the tee, gains fantasy points, crushes approach, the only concern is his putting. And that really is pretty variant week to week so it’s not something I usually target. Had he gained strokes putting on Bermuda I would have been all over him.

Ryder also played his college golf in this area and while his college wasn’t a member of the SEC (which hosts its championship at this course) he should be pretty familiar with the surfaces.

His recent form has also been great with a top 5 finish two weeks ago. He made the cut in his only appearance here last year.

I’m looking for Ryder to have a great week and should be less owned the chalkier plays around him like Jim Furyk and Chris Kirk. 

Other options in this tier: , Joaquin Niemann,  Sungjae Im, Harold Varner (Another bomber who plays well on these shorter courses), Jim Furyk, Bud Cauley, Chris Kirk, Michael Thompson (Sneaky GPP play, super low owned, resident here, 4 top 20’s)

Fades in this tier: Steward Cink, Brian Harman (resident here, but his iron play was SO BAD in round 3/4 last week), Whee Kim

Projected Chalk (highly owned): Stewart Cink, Bud Cauley, Brian Gay 

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Low:

There are a ton of options down here this week, but I’ll highlight one that should be low owned and someone I’m really high on this week.

Kramer Hickok: DK $7400/FD $8100 

Jordan Spieth’s roommate Kramer Hickok has been playing some fantastic golf this year and has actually been the better of the two for the last month or so.

While we have pretty limited data on him, since he is coming off the Web.Com tour where he finished second on the money list behind Sungjae Im, Hickok has had a pretty strong start to his PGA tour career.

After a slow start, missing his first two cuts, he has turned it around and has had back to back top 30 finishes in his last two events. Hickok is an extremely accurate driver of the golf ball, and in his short time on tour he has been absolutely crushing par 4’s. His approach game is superb, the big issue is his putter. He lost a ton of strokes with the putter last time out when we had shot link data (Shriners). It does appear that he had a better week putting at the Mayakoba though where he had 19 birdies and no more than 28 putts in a round (good for 32nd that week).

Hickok is a fairways and greens type of player and thats exactly what you need here. He can also pile up the birdies which should help on the Plantation course. If he can continue to putt well like he did last week at the Mayakoba I don’t think a top twenty is a stretch of the imagination by any means. He has also seen a positive drift in his odds which is a good sign that we are on the right track with him.

Other options in this tier: Anders Albertson, Andrew Landry, Jason Dufner, David Hearn (LOVE him in GPP this week), Vaughn Taylor, Kelly Kraft, Joel Dahmen (Cash lock), Ted Potter Jr. (another guy I love using in GPP this week), Stephen Jaeger, John Huh 

Fades in this tier: Matt Every (projecting as chalk, I don’t get it),

Projected Chalk (highly owned): Jason Dufner, Nate Lashley, Andrew Landry 

Player Pool:

Here is my projected player pool for the week for GPP. I try to keep it somewhat tight 25-30 unless I’m putting in 150 lineups, then I’ll expand it. Again, pricing/pool is for Draftkings.

10K: JJ Spaun, 

9K: Lucas Glover, CT Pan, Russell Henley, Austin Cook, Luke List, Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson, 

8K: Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner, Sam Ryder, Denny McCarthy, Chris Kirk, Jim Furyk, Sungjae Im,  

7K: Bud Cauley, Michael Thompson, Brian Gay, Kramer Hickok, Anders Albertson, Jason Dufner, Andrew Landry, David Hearn, Vaughn Taylor, Kelly Kraft, 

6K: Joel Dahmen, Ted Potter Jr., Stephen Jaeger, John Huh. 

Final Thoughts: 

This is the last event of the Fall Swing Season. Don’t go crazy with your bankroll but cash games are all viable again this week and I like the idea of MME’n a few tournaments with a small player pool like the one listed above.

I’ll post some updates in my coaching channel as I start to build more lineups today. Make sure to join in and ask any questions. Lock is 8:30 AM CST on Thursday! I will be posting showdown notes for rounds 1 and 2 once tee times come out!

Join us in our coaching channels this week and let’s win some money! I’ll be there off and on all week and ready to help you before lock on Thursday!

Also, give me a follow on twitter @dfsupnorth as I’ll be posting updates there as well as useful retweets leading up to this weeks event!