2023 RSM Classic Preview, Picks & Analysis
The curtain comes down on the 2022-23 PGA Tour campaign, and possibly the careers of some well-known golfers, at the RSM Classic this week.
It brings to an end the FedEx Cup Fall Season and, with it, the final chance to secure places in the top 125 in the standings - fall outside that and you are heading back to the Korn Ferry Tour.
It is a time when dreams can die or when they begin. And when all is said and done, golf at this level is all about dreams.
And 12 months ago the man whose life was changed by winning this tournament was Canada’s Adam Svensson, who claimed his maiden victory, earned $1.5m and a full two-year exemption.
He did it in style too, closing with a six-under 64. The 28-year-old Canadian was locked in a four-way tie for the lead on the closing stretch at Sea Island when he holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, and then hit a tee shot to 10 feet on the par-three 17th for a birdie that gave him a cushion.
Open champion Brian Harman would love to close out a memorable year with another win. It is all too easy to dismiss his major victory as a fluke, and although the American has missed his fair share of cuts this year, he was second at the World Wide Technology Championship, tied second here last year, tied second at the Travelers and tied fifth at the BMW Championship.
He may not be a big hitter but he finds lots of fairways and is one of the best putters on the planet - and Sea Island is made for his game.
Keith Mitchell, on the other hand, is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour. He has a beautiful, rhythmic swing and is a joy to watch when he is striking it well. But he is a frustrating golfer. Incredibly, he has just one win to name and although he has managed five top-10 finishes this season he has not come close to winning.
Mitchell is a man who is often very hard on himself and you get the sense that if he relaxed a little more then he would contend far more often than he does.
He would do well to speak to Billy Horschel, a golfer who earlier this year admitted that he was almost at the end of his tether with his game. After shooting a horrific 84 in the first round of the Memorial, Horschel gave a tearful interview that touched the hearts of everybody who saw it.
But he is a gutsy character and showed encouraging signs when finishing in a tie for 13th at the 3M Open before finishing tied fourth at the Wyndham Championship, where he shot a second round 62, followed it with a 63 but closed the week with a 72. There will not be a dry eye in the house if Horschel can find a way to win this week.
Cameron Young will be looking to end the season in style. Still smarting from being overlooked for the Ryder Cup, Young is still looking for his maiden victory and the bottom line is that he has failed to kick on after his incredible rookie season in 2022.
Last year he finished second five times, including at The Open. In successive weeks he finished tied third at the RBC Heritage, tied second at the Wells Fargo and tied third at the US PGA.
This year has been a very different story. He was runner-up at the WGS Dell Technologies Match Play, tied sixth at the John Deere Classic and tied eighth at The Open - but those are his only top-10 finishes. He will not need anybody to tell him that he is a much better player than that.
For the record, the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible to play in a full-field and signature events in 2024, those ranked 51-60 qualify for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Genesis Invitational and the top 125 earn PGA Tour cards.
Among those on the wrong side of the top 125 are Cameron Champ, Scott Piercy, Jimmy Walker, Ryan Palmer, Ryan Moore, Russell Knox, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Kevin Chappell, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker. For these golfers, the ending has already all but been written.
The tournament is contested at the Sea Island Resort on two courses, the Seaside Course (par 70) and the Plantation Course (par 72). The first and third rounds occur at Seaside, while the second and fourth rounds are contested on the Plantation course. Both courses are located at the peak of St. Simmons Island. The Seaside course is a links-style course that took inspiration from St Andrews, while the Plantation course is filled with marsh and forest. Harry Colt created the Seaside course, which Tom Fazio later revamped in the late 90s.
It was won in 2015 by Kevin Kisner, in 2016 by Mackenzie Hughes, in 2017 by Austin Cook, in 2018 by Charles Howell III, in 2019 by Tyler Duncan, in 2020 by Robert Streb, in 2021 by Talor Gooch and in 2022 by Adam Svensson.
Cameron Young will feel that he has a point to prove. He is a wonderful golfer and it makes no sense that he has failed to land his first PGA Tour title. This would be a great week to put that right. And Open champion Brian Harman will look to go one better than he did 12 months ago on a course made for his game.
Cameron Young. This really could be his week
Brian Harman. Sea Island is made for his game
Billy Horschel. Has battled back
Five to Follow:
Cameron Young. Really needs a win
Brian Harman. Wonderful putter
Billy Horschel. Would be a very popular winner
Keith Mitchell. Fabulous ball striker
Ryan Palmer. Needs a big finish and showed decent form in Mexico
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