The McGladrey Classic
Sea Island Resort
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Yards: 7,005 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bermudagrass; over 7,000 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass 2”
Water Hazards: 7
Course Architects: Colt & Allison (1929) designed the seaside nine. Joe Lee designed the marsh-side nine in 1973. Tom Fazio melded them into the Seaside Course in 1998.
Winner’s Share: $990,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Tommy Gainey fired a final round 60 that set the course record to claim his first career victory on TOUR. He defeated David Toms by one shot.
Dates: November 7-10
Notes: Stroke play; Top 70 and ties advance to the weekend
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has picked up right where it left off last season with Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore and Dustin Johnson racking up the first four wins of the “new year”.
There were 12, first-time winners in the 2013 season and just six players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar, Snedeker, Scott and Stenson. Only Webb Simpson will have a chance to join the multiple winners’ list this week as the other three are not playing.
This is the fourth edition of The McGladrey Classic so there isn’t a ton of history to work on but I’ll give it a shot.
All three past champions are in the field this week
2010: Heath Slocum (-14)
2011: Ben Crane (-15)
2012: Tommy Gainey (-16)
Based on the above, the winning score has been getting lower each season as the players get more comfortable with their surroundings. Ben Crane fired a closing round 63 to win in 2011 and Tommy Gainey set the course record last year on Sunday with 60. David Toms also found 63 to finish second. #golow
Gainey is the only first time winner to claim the trophy in three events.
Both Gainey and Crane had played the previous year before their respective victories.
Inside the Ropes
For the second week in a row, I believe it’s going to take a player going low to win. I consider 15-under-par as an average score as “going low”. It’s not going to be 29-birdie low like last week and that’s because there are only two par fives. Slocum carded 19 birdies in 2010, Crane 22 in 2011 and Gainey circled 20 of them last season. That’s an average of 20 per tournament or five per round. #math.
I’ll be taking a look at guys who love to get low and like rolling them in on the par threes and fours. At just over 7,000 yards, most players should be able to handle the length and the two par fives. In 2010, the Seaside Course was ranked No. 33 of the 52 courses used on TOUR. In 2011, it ranked No. 31 of 51 and in 2012 it checked in at No. 36 of 49. Each year the scoring average has been 69.5 or lower so par isn’t going to be much help around these parts.
The test on this course will be the players’ ability to keep their patience if and when the wind blows. With green complexes averaging over 7,000 square feet and the rough playing around two inches, GIR shouldn’t be an issue this week. At just over 7,000 yards, most players in the field (see Slocum, Crane and Gainey) will have a chance to be successful this week if they can get hot and make birdies.
Webb Simpson: He’s already chalked up one win this season and needed a bushel full of birdies to do so in Las Vegas. He was T10 in 2010 and P2 to Ben Crane in 2011. His worst round on this course is 69. I’ve learned in the business that overthinking things is usually a bit silly.
Zach Johnson: He only missed on cut after April last season and he really turned it on to close the 2013 season. The last eight starts resulted in SEVEN top 10s (T27 was the other finish) and included his lone victory at the BMW in the FEC Playoffs. His T40 at Las Vegas included no rounds over 70 so he should be ready to pounce in his “second” home game of the season (John Deere Classic). Johnson and his family live on St. Simons Island.
Charles Howell III: He’s hit the top 10 twice already in 2013-14 and that should come as NO SURPRISE to anyone who follows fantasy golf. CH III is a notorious hot starter and The McGladrey Classic is one of his happy hunting grounds. He finished T6 in year one and backed that up with T32 and T7 last season. He’s only been in the black numbers once in 12 rounds and has a 62 under his belt as well.
Matt Kuchar: Another resident who’ll be looking to impress the locals this week, Kuchar has been enjoying his time off since the Presidents Cup. His worst finish of 2013 after winning the Memorial was T28 at the U.S. Open. He’s fired eight rounds of par or better here in a pair of top 25 finishes. The gamer in me wishes he’d played once before but this is a track that should ease him back into the swing of things.
Harris English: One of the younger members of the Sea Island Mafia, English broke through last season in Memphis and rocked it out during the summer before fading from the PGA to the end of the Playoffs. He opened up 2013-14 in Vegas with T40 before jetting to the CIMB and racking up his first top 10 since Memphis. He finished T15 here last year closing with 66-66-68.
Brendon Todd: For those of you who read this regularly, thank you, and this name shouldn’t surprise any of you. Todd’s worst start on either TOUR after May 1 in 13 events (12 cuts made) was T26. He’s picked up right where he left off in 2013-14 as he was T26 at Frys.com and T12 in Las Vegas. Need a putter? Yeah, here’s your guy.
Brendon de Jonge: Most players who haven’t posted a round in the 70s this year in two events would usually scare me off. de Jonge though doesn’t especially after his T4 here last year and his penchant for making multiple birdies. It was only natural to have a letdown after participating in the Presidents Cup as a captain’s pick so I think he gets right back up this week.
Luke Guthrie: His last time out he found a way to post TWO 64s in Las Vegas so I have no problem pulling the trigger on a young guy who’s hot. Confidence is a wonderful thing to have regardless of age so I’ll take a shot here in a field that only has four of the top 50 OWGR playing.
Scott Piercy: He’s one of just three (Boo Weekley, Brian Gay) who played last week in the WGC-HSBC and have decided to tee it up this week halfway back across the world. His 68-68 weekend led to T21 at a WGC event should buoy him through any jet lag or tiredness that he’s feeling.
Sean O’Hair: Gamers, better strike while the putter is hot! He posted a 65 in round three at the Frys.com en route to T26. He went even lower with 63 in Las Vegas in round three at the Shriners. Those are his first back-to-back T26s or better since July of 2012. It doesn’t hurt that he’s posted T20 and T15 in two starts at Seaside.
Chris Stroud: Only three of his eight rounds here have been under par but I’m more interested in his T3 finish at the CIMB. He only made five bogeys (and a double, I know, I know) but he battled on Sunday to close in 34 and stay on the podium.