Inside the Ropes
Sea Island Golf Club, Seaside Course
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Yards: 7,005 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bermudagrass; 7,000 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2”
Course Architects: Colt & Alison Seaside 9 (1928); Joe Lee Marsh-side 9 (1973) Tom Fazio Redesign (1998) put them together to create the Seaside Course.
Winner’s Share: $720,000
Defending Champion: Ben Crane shot 63 on Sunday to reach a playoff with Webb Simpson and defeated him on the second hole for his fourth TOUR victory.
Date: October 18-21
Format: 72 holes of stroke play; top 70 and ties make the weekend.
Notes: Gamers, please note that this is only the third McGladrey Classic.
Charles Howell III has the course record, 62, set in 2010.
Heath Slocum won on 266 (-14) in 2010 and Ben Crane won here last year on 265 (-15).
Both past champions are in the field this week.
With only the McGladrey Classic and the Children’s Miracle Networks Hospital Classic remaining, players know they have only these two events to make it or break it into the top 125 on the money list.
For those players who are comfortably inside the top 125, they will be looking again this week to force themselves into the top 30 which will earn them a place in the 2013 Masters.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
Davis Love III busy 2012 continues as he is this week’s Tournament Chairman on the course he grew up on as he welcomes the TOUR for third annual McGladrey Classic. I’m looking for guys this week, as I have the past two weeks, that are comfortable hitting GIR and who are riding hot putters. The Seaside Course plays just over 7,000 yards and the rough is only two inches but in the first two tournaments, we have not seen “bombers” dominate. This tells me that there still is something to be said (see: Slocum, Heath) that driving the golf ball in the fairway does hold weight as does pinging GIR. The greens are around 7,000 square feet on average and are bermudagrass so I’ll be looking for guys who enjoy playing on that surface after a couple of weeks on bentgrass. Some guys love bermudagrass; some guys can’t figure it out. With the greens rolling along at 12’ or better, guys who can roll the rock will also factor this week.
The Seaside Course is truly on the sea as well so the wind will be a factor this week. According to a very early forecast, the wind will blow out of four different directions for each day of the tournament. The good news is that forecast also shows the wind to be less than 10 m.p.h. per day so that shouldn’t bother these guys too much.
I’m looking for guys on form, who enjoy bermudagrass greens and are solid ball-strikers this week. It won’t hurt if they are from the Southeast and have played this tract before and as always, I’ll take a look back at their history in the first two editions of this tournament as well.
The toughest part of my projections this week is basing performance relative to position on the money list. Just because a player is ranked No. 130-ish doesn’t mean his game will suddenly perk up and he will play well. It’s the same process on a guy who’s No. 120-ish. He won’t play well enough just because of his ranking on the current money list.
Zach Johnson: The St. Simon’s Island resident has been around this track a time or two and that won’t hurt one of the best players on TOUR in 2012 this week. His accuracy off the tee combined with his sweet short game and superior putting should make this hometown favorite a serious contender this week. He was cut last year but finished T12 in 2010. He also proved by winning the John Deere Classic earlier this year, in a playoff no less, that the hometown atmosphere isn’t too much for him to handle.
Jonas Blixt: No point in getting off him now! He’s first on TOUR in strokes gained-putting and sixth in total putting and when combining that with an all-time high level of confidence, I believe he’s the man to beat again this week. He’s also 17th in scrambling and a solid short game around this track won’t hurt either. Let’s just hope he didn’t have TOO much fun after his first win last weekend!
Jim Furyk: From tee to green he’s as accurate as they come and on the green, he’s 10th in total putting to boot. I’ve always enjoyed Furyk because he never shies away from the fight and after the let-downs he’s had in 2012 he’ll need every ounce of guts and determination if he’s in that fight on Sunday afternoon. I know he won’t be scared on a golf course where he can work the ball and finished T11 in 2011.
Jason Day: The Aussie has had a disappointing season by his standards but that didn’t slow him down in Las Vegas where he closed with 64-65 on the weekend INCLUDING a double bogey each round! That’s 62-63 if he doesn’t find those doubles! He’s hot, in form and is one of the best putters around (10th strokes gained-putting) on TOUR.
Jeff Overton: The theme with Overton is that he plays well in bunches and he has lived up to that over the last few weeks as he finished T13 in Las Vegas and solo eighth last week at CordeValle. He also loves the track here evidenced by his T6 finish last season. A solid ball-striker and a top 25 putter, Overton continues his sizzling Fall Series this week at the McGladrey.
Brendon de Jonge: After taking a month off after the FedExCup Playoffs, de Jonge jumped right back into character “birdie man” by firing 62 to open in Las Vegas. His 25 birdies that week saw him finish a career-best solo second. He’s 25 of 29 in cuts made in 2012 and obviously playing well. No brainer.
Chris Kirk: The St. Simons resident destroys par threes and fours and that’s what he has to deal with on this par 70 course. He’s sixth in birdie-or-better percentage on par threes and fifth on the par fours. He’s quietly made nine cuts in a row and is playing at home this week. He MC here last here after finishing T15 in 2010.
Ben Curtis: He knocked off the rust last week in his first tournament since the BMW in early September and finished a solid T22 which included a 65 on Saturday. Curtis should enjoy a shorter track where accuracy and putting (ninth, total putting) are the premium.
Vijay Singh: After a 71-74 finish on the weekend in Las Vegas, Singh bounced back, with his putter no less, to finish T4 at the Frys.com last weekend. I’m nervous to put Singh in the top 10 this week because his putting has been the part of his game that usually holds him back. Sometimes, a hot putter can carryover weeks and with Singh, you don’t have to worry about his ball-striking so he’s back on the list again this week.
Danny Lee: Lee began the final round inside the top 10 but lost FOUR shots last Sunday on Nos. 14 and 15 which ended up being the difference between T4 and his final place on the scoreboard of T16. He’s landed in the top 16 in three of his last five starts on both TOURS.
Horses for Courses
Nick O’Hern: In his only appearance at the Seaside Course, O’Hern fired four rounds in the 60’s to finish T6 in 2010. He opened with 62 last week at the Frys.com so he’s heading in the right direction.
Heath Slocum: The 2010 champion backed up his victory with a T15 finish here in 2011. He played well at the Timberlake as he fired rounds of 67, 67 and 65 with a 74 sandwiched in there on Saturday to finish T13. Slocum, who ranks 174th in total putting, shows that you don’t have to be a wonderful putter to have success at the McGladrey. He was 137th in total putting when he won in 2010 and 157th in 2011.
Michael Thompson: He prefers greens that are “slick” as he ranks in the top 30 in strokes gained and total putting. He’s not the longest off the tee or most accurate with his irons but he can really get the putter rolling it. Last year, he finished third after being the 54-hole leader. His two bogeys on the back nine (no birdies) saw him finish one shot out of the playoff with Simpson and Crane. He was T13 in Las Vegas in his last outing.
Charles Howell III: He finished T6 in 2010 after closing with 62 and was T32 last year but didn’t fire worse than 70 in four rounds. CH III was chasing down a podium finish as he began Sunday’s round last week at the Frys.com T3 before bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 knocked him out of the top 10 (T11). He should be encouraged by his play last week and excited by the way he plays at the Seaside Course for this week.
Off the radar but might sneak up on Sunday
Richard H. Lee: He’s 13th in driving accuracy, 22nd in GIR and 20th in total putting. He’s made seven straight cuts and his T46 last week was his worst finish in that stretch. I’ll jump back on again this week as everyone else jumps off.
Russell Knox: He’ll need another big finish this week if he wants to have hope of grabbing his card for 2013 as he currently sits 179th on the money list. Lately, he’s been guns blazing and getting better each week. He was T13 in Las Vegas two weeks ago and a career-best T9 last week at Frys.com. He was T7 at the Chiquita Classic before the Fall Series began so I’ll ride the wave one more week!
Billy Horschel: He sits currently ninth in ball-striking on TOUR and played his first two rounds last week 10-under. His weekend wasn’t as sharp (73-71) but there’s something brewing there as I expect his GIR and accuracy to regain form again this week.
Matt Goggin: Back-to-back top 25’s for the Aussie show me that he’s found something in the Fall Series. He hits plenty of GIR so he’s worth an outside look after finishes of T13 and T22 last week.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: McGladrey Classic (Glass Picks)
Group 1: Jonas Blixt
Group 2: Chris Kirk
Group 3: Danny Lee
Group 4: Mathew Goggin
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: McGladrey Classic (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Zach Johnson
Group 2: Henrik Stenson
Group 3: Billy Horschel
Group 4: Alexandre Rocha
Coming Sunday: McGladrey Wrap Up