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2022 RSM Classic PGA DFS Preview: Jump on Matthew NeSmith Early

Geoff Ulrich



2022 RSM Classic PGA DFS Preview: Jump on Matthew NeSmith Early

This week marks the final event in the fall swing on the PGA TOUR. The RSM Classic is one of the longer-standing events on the fall swing and has almost always marked the end of the wraparound portion of the season. This event is also unique because it features a full 156-man field but also uses two courses in order to get play in before dark. The Seaside venue uses both the Seaside course, which plays as a par 70 and the Plantation course, which plays as a par 72. With the venues being near the ocean and the event taking place in November, the weather here can sometimes be a factor, but lower scoring still almost always prevails as the courses play relatively short with easier-to-hit fairways.

Don’t forget to check out the Stokastic PGA DFS projections, which has both scoring data, and PGA DFS ownership projections. Stokastic PGA DFS projections come out on Monday and will be updated throughout the week. There are two courses in play and this is the last official fall event before the Christmas break, so using the data available at Stokastic will be more important than ever.

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PGA DFS Picks: 2022 RSM Classic

Last week saw Tony Finau put on an absolute clinic of golf. It was our second runaway winner in a row on the PGA TOUR but Finau’s performance may have been even more impressive than Henley’s in the week prior, as it came on a tougher venue where a lot of the field was struggling to make birdies all week. Finau displayed elite upside across the board, gaining over 9.0 strokes ball striking and 7.9 strokes with his putter. It was a display we typically only see from major championship winners and it should have you looking at the futures board to see what Finau’s odds are at Augusta next April.

From a strokes-gained perspective, the leaders in strokes-gained approach stats for the week were Si Woo Kim, Adam Hadwin and Alex Noren. Hadwin also led the field in strokes gained tee to green stats, but won’t be in the field this week.

Here’s a list of the other notable players in the field for the RSM Classic field this week:

  1. Tony Finau (won for the fifth time on the PGA TOUR; led the field in ball striking)
  2. Jason Day (Four top-25 finishes in a row; has gained multiple shots on approach in four straight starts)
  3. Si Woo Kim (Led field in strokes gained approach stats last week)
  4. Sahith Theegala (posted 64 in Houston last Sunday; has two top 10s on fall season)
  5. Seamus Power (back in action after taking a week off; third and first in last two fall starts)

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This event has seen a wide variety of winners in terms of style. Veterans typically perform well at this venue but it’s also been a hotbed for first-time winners. Talor Gooch, Tyler Duncan and Austin Cook all won their first (and only) PGA events at the RSM Classic and rode some solid play in the fall swing while doing so. We’ve also seen veteran players like Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb play well here in the past as this isn’t an event where players need a ton of power off the tee to succeed.

RSM Classic Past Winners

2021: Talor Gooch

  • Lead-in: 60/11/5 (had played in five fall events with four top-12 finishes)

2020: Robert Streb 

  • Lead-in: 21/MC/55 (had played in four fall events prior)

2019: Tyler Duncan

  • Lead-in: 48/18/MC (had played in six fall events prior)

As for recent form indicators, this event has been a tough one to figure out. Both Streb and Duncan had been playing regularly in the fall but neither had shown outstanding form. This speaks to the setup this week which does bring in a lot of the field in terms of win equity, as shorter hitters won’t be at a huge disadvantage. Players trending with solid approach stats and who have solid short games can spike here, regardless of if their recent form doesn’t look that hot on paper.

Want to see who is trending as a strong play early? Check out Stokastic’s PGA DFS projections, which will be updated on Monday and throughout the week.

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RSM Classic Course Preview

Sea Island: Seaside Course (Par 70, 7,005 yards) and Plantation Course (Par 72, 7,060) 

Greens: Bermuda

Designer: Tom Fazio (Renovation – Seaside), Davis Love II (Renovation – Plantation)

Similar Courses: Waialae (Sony Open), Cocoa Beach (Puerto Rico Open), Hilton Head (RBC Heritage)

The venue this week involves two courses which will split play in rounds one and two, with all players playing each once.

The Plantation Course features four par 5s and is also more inland so it often plays quite a bit easier than the host Seaside Course, which players will play twice on the weekend. The Seaside Course isn’t exactly a US Open-style venue on its own though, as both par 5s on the course come in at under 570 yards and it has easier to hit fairways with little penal rough. Players off the tee will just want to avoid the massive penalties and set themselves up for approaches into the smaller greens.

For betting and DFS, knowing which days your players will be on which course is important, and using the weather forecast can be helpful. Getting players with less breezy days on the Seaside course could be crucial to success. There is a lot of correlation between the courses on Sea Island and several other shorter courses on the PGA TOUR, as well. Many players who have had success at this event have also had success at other short seaside courses, like Hilton Head, Pebble Beach and Waialae Country Club, which also features Bermuda grass.

Smaller than normal greens means approach play is of the utmost importance, but solid short games will be needed, as well. Last year’s winner, Gooch, gained over 2.0 strokes around the greens and putting, but was lights out on his approach, gaining over 6.0 strokes against the field in that regard.

Look for short track and Bermuda putting specialists on these sorts of courses, as well as players who tend to gain strokes around the greens consistently on comparable venues.

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Past Winners and Stats

2021 — Talor Gooch (22 under par)

Stats: SG:OTT- -0.5/SG:APP-6.3/SG:ATG – 2.6/SG:PUTT – 5.0/SG:TTG – 8.6

2021 —  Robert Streb (19 under par)

Stats: SG:OTT – 0.4/SG:APP – 0.5/SG:ATG – 0.5 /SG:PUTT – 4.5/SG:TTG – 1.4

2021 — Tyler Duncan (19 under par)

Stats: SG:OTT – 1.7/SG:APP – 4.9 /SG:ATG – 0.2/SG:PUTT – 3.4/SG:TTG – 6.8

As we can see, the most common trends among winners here have been approach games that have spiked for solid weeks. Both Gooch and Duncan gained well over 4.0 strokes on approach alone, using great short iron accuracy to set up their putters for great weeks. Streb was more putter reliant but still positive in all the strokes gained categories across the board. The key to off-the-tee play here is just not to be overly terrible at anything, as even just modest accuracy will give you good views to the green on this very open setup. Again, players who can handle themselves around the greens on these tricky setups will be great upside plays if their approach games step up as well.

RSM Classic Recent Form Watch

Strokes Gained on Approach (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Tony Finau
  • Tom Hoge
  • Mark Hubbard
  • Davis Riley
  • Lee Hodges

Overall Proximity (Last 50 Rounds)

  • Ryan Armour
  • Kevin Streelman
  • Russel Knox
  • Tom Hoge
  • Brian Harman

Top Five Strokes Gained Total (Last Six Events)

  • Patrick Rodgers
  • Jason Day
  • Joel Dahmen
  • Andrew Putnam
  • Tom Hoge

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RSM Classic Weather Forecast

Thursday a.m.: 48-50 F, winds 8-10 mph/0% chance of precipitation

Thursday p.m.: 55-58 F, winds 12-14 mph/0% chance of precipitation

Friday a.m.: 50 F, winds 8-9 mph/5% chance of precipitation

Friday p.m.: 55-57 F, winds 7-8 mph/5-10% chance of precipitation

The weather this week looks colder than normal. It should mean the ball travels a little bit less than normal and could make for rougher conditions than we saw last year. Even with a little bit of wind or coolness, the winning scores at this event always seem to finish in the higher teens, but there have been years in the past when wind and cold temperatures have seen the winning scoring go into the low teens. This year, the first two days don’t offer a ton of wind, and what there will be seems destined to be strewn throughout the day. Friday does have a little less wind so the late crew on Friday may have slightly better conditions than Thursday afternoon players.

RSM Classic Early Betting Leans

Matthew NeSmith | BetMGM Outright

Matthew NeSmith cooled off a touch last week but the American has been lighting it up on the fall swing, regardless. He now has three top 10s over his last three starts and takes on a course this week that is well-suited for a player with strong iron and short approaches. In Nesmith’s recent two starts prior to Houston, he’d gained over 6.0 strokes on approach and was just a strong putting week away from getting himself into true contention. Prior to last week, he had gained strokes putting in five straight starts and he’s found the greens at Sea Island inviting, having gained strokes putting at this venue in each of the past two years. He’ll be a good early target to jump on before the public realizes this course looks tailor-made for a player with his skillset who hails from just down the road in South Carolina.

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