The First Look: The RSM Classic

The First Look: The RSM Classic

It’s the final official event of the year, bringing the calendar to a close at the Picturesque Sea Island Resort in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Tony Finau, who’s scheduled to return to Sea Island for the first time since 2014, leads the field fresh off a win at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. There are plenty of locals looking to win on their home turf, as well, as Sea Island is a popular gathering spot for some of the TOUR’s top players.

FIELD NOTES: Finau, a two-time winner on TOUR last season, is the highest-ranked golfer in the field. He earned his fifth TOUR title in Houston… Six of the top 40 in the world are teeing it up, with Brian Harman, Sepp Straka, Tom Hoge, 2015 RSM Classic winner Kevin Kisner and FedExCup leader Seamus Power, winner of the recent Butterfield Bermuda Championship, joining Finau. Qualifiers for last season’s TOUR Championship who are in the field are Straka, Finau, Hoge, Harman, JT Poston, Sahith Theegala and Scott Stallings… Recent RSM winners in the field include Kisner, two-time RSM winner Robert Streb, Chris Kirk, Austin Cook, Tyler Duncan, and Mackenzie Hughes, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship this fall… Tournament host Davis Love III will tee it up alongside fellow major champs in Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, and Jason Day… Nick Hardy and Zac Blair are teeing it up on major medical extensions… Sponsor exemptions include four-time TOUR winner Aaron Baddeley, Camilo Villegas, Chris Gotterup, Jacob Bridgeman, Notre Dame’s Palmer Jackson and Georgia alum Spencer Ralston. Bridgeman (No. 2) and Gotterup (No. 7) were members of this year’s class in PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global. Gotterup, the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year, recently finished T3 at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament, while Bridgeman finished T45 to earn conditional status. Jackson earned his spot in the field by winning the prestigious Jones Cup at nearby Ocean Forest Golf Club. Past champions of that amateur event include Justin Thomas, Corey Conners and PGA TOUR rookie Davis Thompson. Jackson is No. 20 in the PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking. Baddeley has Monday qualified for two events this season, including a T6 finish at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Villegas was a Captain’s Assistant at this year’s Presidents Cup.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.

RACE: Sea Island Resort (Seaside), 7,005 yards, par 70; Sea Island Resort (Plantation), 7,060 yards, par 72. Tournament Davis Love III and his brother Mark re-worked the Plantation Course – inspired by the traditional profile of Walter Travis’ 1928 original – in 2019 with plenty of classic design features. Tom Fazio, meanwhile, redid the Seaside Course – a links-style layout adjacent to the ocean – in 1999.

STORYLINES: Four of the last six editions of The RSM Classic have gone into a playoff, including three in a row from 2018-2020… Sea Island has been a haven for first-time TOUR winners but not so much for local residents. There are lots in the field this year, per usual, but none have won the event. While Kevin Kisner captured the title in 2015, he was actually living in Sea Island only because his South Carolina home was being renovated… If there is one golfer to look at continuing the first-timer-trend at Sea Island, look to Taylor Montgomery, who hasn’t missed a cut this fall (with finishes of 3-T9-T15-T13-T10)… Webb Simpson is hoping to finally take this tournament across the finish line. He finished inside the top 10, again, last season – the fifth time he’s done that, including two playoff losses… This is the last official PGA TOUR event on the calendar until the Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January.

72-HOLE RECORD: 260, Kevin Kisner (2015), Talor Gooch (2021)

18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Tommy Gainey (4th round, 2012), Sebastian Munoz (1st round, 2021), Tyler McCumber (4th round, 2021)

LAST TIME: Talor Gooch fired a final-round 64 to win by three over 2016 RSM champ Mackenzie Hughes for his maiden TOUR title. Gooch made three birdies in four holes after making the turn on Sunday and no one else could get close as the tournament reached its conclusion. Gooch had a three-shot lead to start the day and was locked in early, making birdies of just five and nine feet on Nos. 2 and 4 to start his final round. Gooch’s 22-under 260 matched the tournament record set by Kevin Kisner in 2014, while he became the seventh golfer in the 12-year history of the tournament to make The RSM Classic his first TOUR victory. Hughes shot a tidy 8-under 62 to finish solo second, while Sebastian Munoz, who earlier in the week shot a course record-tying 60, finished third. Tyler McCumber, who shot a 60 of his own in the final round, finished tied for fourth alongside three other golfers.

HOW TO FOLLOW:

Television: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-3 p.m. ET. Saturday-Sunday, 1pm-4pm (Golf Channel)

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