The PGA Tour made a short drive across Georgia to undergo a significant vibe overhaul.
The pressures of the year's final major at the Masters are a thing of the past, and this week's RSM Classic allows players to exhale a bit before heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. While the tournament's sometimes sleepy field has been significantly bolstered with some top European talent making the trek from Augusta to Sea Island, the participant list still has plenty of familiar names and a decidedly southern flavor.
One year after losing this event in a playoff, Webb Simpson returns as the betting favorite and highest-ranked player in the field. He's also bordering on auto-start status for DFS purposes. Here's a look at why you should consider rostering Simpson, along with several other players to consider when building lineups for the year's penultimate event:
Webb Simpson ($11,200 on DraftKings): This is a situation where the salary structure of DFS shades toward the favorite more so than outright betting. Simpson is a prohibitive favorite this week, +900 at PointsBet Sportsbook with Tyrrell Hatton (+1800) his closest competitor. But that distance isn't reflected in DraftKings salary, where he's the top seed but only $200 more expensive than Sungjae Im. All the more reason to add a guy who has done everything but win at this event, losing playoffs in both 2011 and 2019 to go along with a third-place showing in 2018. Simpson enters off a T-10 finish at the Masters, hasn't finished worse than T-17 in any event since the PGA Championship and seems almost assured of a spot on the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Russell Henley ($10,100): Henley was a popular pick two weeks ago at the Houston Open, and he was one of the top-ranked players to watch last week's Masters from home. But he is once again among the favorites this week as he continues to start the new wraparound season on a tear, having finished T-29 or better in each of his last seven starts including top-5 finishes at both the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship. Henley's iron game has been tremendous in recent weeks, as he ranks ninth on Tour this season in both Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green. Henley is one of several Georgia alums in the field, and while he missed the cut each of the last two years he strung together three straight top-10 finishes at this event before that. There's ample reason to believe his recent form will get him back to that level this time around.
Zach Johnson ($8,000): Were it not for Davis Love III, Johnson might be in the running for Mayor of Sea Island. The two-time major champ basked in the glow of his green jacket trappings last week, where he made his seventh cut in as many starts. While he didn't contend over the weekend, Johnson has shown signs of promise in recent weeks: namely, three straight top-25s at the U.S. Open, Sanderson Farms and Shriners. After struggling mightily with his game in recent years, Johnson's iron and putting stats are once again on the rise toward his familiar levels. Even during his lean stretch he tended to play well at this event, with top-8 finishes in both 2017 and 2018, and as an RSM endorser and local resident this event carries a little extra magnitude.
J.T. Poston ($7,300): Poston missed the cut last week in his Masters debut, but he should have an easier time this week at Sea Island. Another player with local ties, Poston finally figured out the two-course rotation last year to end a run of missed cuts with a T-14 finish. He has played well this fall, finishing third at the Sanderson Farms and T-20 two weeks ago in Houston while continuing his strong work on the greens (20th this season in SG: Putting). Poston struggled in the majors this year as he got his first taste of some of the biggest stages, but he has otherwise played well in recent weeks at events where the stakes are a little lower. This week should provide a welcome opportunity to bounce back on a course he knows well.
Patton Kizzire ($6,800): Much like Johnson, Kizzire bottomed out over the last couple years and is slowly working his way back into form. The results are starting to show, with top-25 finishes in each of his last two starts including a T-11 finish two weeks ago in Houston. Kizzire is another Sea Island resident in the field, and he has made the cut each of the last three years at this event including a T-15 finish in 2018. The two-time Tour winner is still looking to rebuild his ball-striking stats but remains a strong putter, and if some familiarity with the Seaside Course greens help boost his reads he could contend for his first top-10 finish since the Travelers in June. Kizzire has made six of his last seven cuts overall, improving more than 100 spots in the world rankings in the process, and seems like a sound bet to play the weekend.
Vaughn Taylor ($6,400): This pick might require a bit more intestinal fortitude, as Taylor has missed eight of his last nine cuts dating back to June. But the diminutive veteran has ties to the Peach State, albeit Augusta instead of Sea Island, and he tends to bring some of his best to this event. Taylor can't compete on some of the Tour's longer tracks, but he can succeed when things boil down to accuracy, irons and putting. Such is the case at this event, where he has top-10 finishes in two of the last three years. Nine of Taylor's last 10 rounds at this event have been in the 60s, including all four a year ago, and an opening-round 65 a couple weeks ago at the Bermuda Championship showed just enough promise to make me intrigued about his potential this week on a course that fits his eye.