I’d like to tell you I’ll stop talking about the success we are having after this article… but I’m only going to do that once we stop winning! The crazy streak continued last week with Tony Finau winning the Cadence Bank Houston Open. Over the past five events, we’ve picked Keegan Bradley (won the Zozo), Rory McIlroy (won the CJ Cup), Ben Griffin (held multi-shot lead on the back nine in the final round at Bermuda), Russell Henley (won the Mayakoba), and now Finau. So who’s winning this week? Let’s dig into the host venue a bit first.
Sea Island Resort has hosted the RSM Classic since 2010. Both the Seaside and the Plantation courses are used for the first two rounds in order to allow for a field of 156 players. The Seaside course is used for both rounds over the weekend. The courses reward a similar skillset, so handicapping this event is fairly easy. What we’re looking for in a player is accuracy over distance off the tee; iron play, with a focus on shots inside 150 yards; and putting, as birdie chances will be plentiful and scores will be low.
Let’s take at the three players who best fit this mold:
Tom Hoge $9,800
Hoge ranks third overall in my model for the RSM Classic. He ranks first in proximity inside 150 yards, first in approach, sixth in birdies, and ninth in driving accuracy. He’s also above average in putting. It’s the perfect recipe for success at Sea Island. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he finished fourth here last year. Since then, Hoge has made great strides, recording seven top 10s and a win at Pebble Beach.
Matthew NeSmith $9,000
NeSmith ranks eighth overall in my data model for the week and comes from a similar mold as Hoge. He ranks third in driving accuracy, fifth in approach, 12th in proximity inside 150 yards, and 12th in birdies. He is a slightly below average putter overall, but when he’s on Bermudagrass greens like those at Sea Island, he goes from 108th to 43rd in putting. NeSmith has played this event three times, finishing 29th, 15th, and 14th. Over the past year, he has really improved, going from 234th in the world to 94th. He already has three top 10s this fall and now looks to add this first victory.
Davis Riley $8,100
Davis Riley will win in the 2022-23 season; it’s only a matter of time. He has been knocking on the door the past year, just waiting for all parts of his game to click the same week. Riley ranks fourth in my data model for the RSM Classic. He ranks third in approach and fourth in proximity inside 150 yards, and he’s well above average and very accurate off the tee. The one thing that holds him back at times is streakiness on the greens. He has had events where he has gained over nine strokes putting and events where he has lost over eight strokes. Just last week in Houston, he finished 27th while losing three strokes on the green. If we can get a hot putting week from Riley, he could finish off 2022 in style with his first win.