Tournament: The RSM Classic, November 17-20, 2016
Course: Sea Island Golf Club, Seaside course & Plantation course. 7,005 yards, par 70.
Defending Champion: Georgia’s own Kevin Kisner. The Kiz shot 64-64 on the weekend to put this tournament away, and achieved his first PGA Tour win.
Fun Fact: The golf course started out back in 1929 as a 9 hole layout for yankee millionaires wintering in this part of the world. The 9 holes were joined to a later “marshside” 9 holes to create the Seaside course, then a parkland style 18 hole course was fused together to make the Plantation course.
Television: Thursday-Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (6 + 1 alternate): Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd (alternate)
A quick note on last week’s OHL Classic in Mexico: Harris English missed the cut by a shot and did not cash a check, Brian Harman finally got hot in the 4th round and finished 55th ($15,050.02), Hudson Swafford had a steady week and finished T46 ($19,485.02), and Chris Kirk tied for 7th after being near the lead after Thursday’s opening round ($218,166.98). Another successful weekend.
Now the Tour heads northeast, but only as far as the Southeast, and St. Simons Island, Georgia. This is the 6th year of the RSM Classic at Sea Island, and ‘Dawgs have fared well here. Chris Kirk is a former winner of the tourney, as is Kevin Kisner mentioned above.
The tournament host is Davis Love III, who though he matriculated at UNC, is a lifelong resident of the great State of Georgia. Love’s father was a famous teaching pro in this area and Love has raised his own family on St. Simons (though his son went to play golf for Alabama).
Harris English is 72nd in the world, and is back to playing well consistently. This of course, not counting the missed cut last week (only missed by 1 shot on a course that required going really low).
Brian Harman is ranked #127, but that is after a sub-par 2016 campaign. Previously he was solid inside the top 100. He’s played 4 events so far this season and made the cut in 3.
Russell Henley. After securing a win in each of his first two seasons, including his first ever pro tournament, Henley fell back in 2016, only earning about half of what he did each of his first 3 campaigns. But he’s already scored 2 top 25s in this young new season.
Chris Kirk has won four times on the Tour, and is ranked #71 in the world. Like Harman, he’s played four tourneys this fall and made the cut in each. Apparently fully recuperated from a broken hand in 2015, his game has progressed through the summer and fall and I look for him to break through with a win again soon.
Kevin Kisner meandered around the tour since 2010, making enough to live on but not much more. But during the 2015 calendar year, he placed 2nd in Hilton Head, lost in another playoff at The Players, before finally running away with the RSM here last November. He’s now up to 41st in the world.
Hudson Swafford is the least accomplished of this group and is the only one without a Tour win. But he is a very solid golfer in his own right, ranked #217 in the world, and has been fighting a leg injury for a couple of years (and does rehab for). He’s had a pretty good last 18 months, and is 3 for 3 in made cuts so far this season.
Brendon Todd is, to me, inexplicable. He had 7 top 10s in 2014 including a win, had 4 top 10s in 2015, but then only made 4 cuts in 2016. I haven’t found that he’s injured, so I don’t know why his game has forsaken him. But his scores are not good, especially considering how well he played just a couple of years ago. He has alternate status this week as he lost his full-time status on Tour, and I believe has to wait for at least 5 entrants to drop out before the first tee Thursday in order to move into an open slot. Read: I seriously doubt he plays this week.
It’s a good solid tournament with beautiful coastal backdrops of Spanish Moss and gentle sea breezes. So tune in to Golf Channel and follow these ‘Dawgs chasing a little white ball.
And as always….