The Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia hosts the final PGA Tour event of 2021 from November 18th-21st. There are a couple of other events for golf fans to enjoy, the Hero World Challenge and The Match between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. This, though, is the final official one on the calendar and the final opportunity for someone to play their way into the Masters at Augusta National for the players not already there.
Scottie Scheffler, who finished tied for second in Houston last week, is the bookmaker’s favourite going into the event with Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Kevin Kisner, Cam Smith, Harris English, Corey Conners, and Webb Simpson all likely to be there or thereabouts.
The RSM Classic has been an exciting watch in recent years, with four of the last five going to a playoff, including 2016, when Mackenzie Hughes won a five-way play off on a Monday, ultimately victorious over Blayne Barber, Billy Horschel, Henrik Norlander and Camilo Villegas.
The last three years here have been 19-under playoffs between two golfers. These are notoriously tricky courses to play, leading to the top players bunching at the top of the leaderboard. It’s often the case that playoffs occur in events like this one where it plays as this course does, and in recent years, this event has been defined by it.
A very strong field tees off this week in Georgia as the top golfers battle for FedEx Cup points, and plenty of others will be scrapping to claw their way into the Masters.
Let’s take a look at a couple of the favourites and an outsider looking to make waves this week and get their hands on the trophy to end the year in style.
Does Scottie Scheffler need a PGA Tour victory to validate his standing in the world of golf? I hear this a lot from commentators and the written golfing media. While I’m not sure that he needs that win to cement his standing as one of the world’s top players, he will undoubtedly want that elusive win sooner rather than later, and that win, when and not if it comes, will undoubtedly help to take his career to the next level.
That first PGA Tour victory is all that Scheffler is lacking – his numbers right across the board are superb. He comes into this week on the back of a tied second place in Houston last week, and out of all the players in the field this week, he is ranked third-highest in strokes gained this year behind Cam Smith and Louis Oosthuizen. It will be interesting to see what kind of run Scheffler goes on once he gets the monkey off his back and wins one. The Tony Finau route of the win coming, then another long wait for another or the Patrick Cantlay route of adding a few more in quick succession. Either way, he needs to win that first one first, and there will be plenty of golf fans drawn to the RSM Classic to see if this is finally the week Scottie Sheffler sets the ball rolling and starts collecting trophies.
Webb Simpson certainly hasn’t been playing lousy golf this year. But he hasn’t played great golf as he did in 2019 and 2020 either. If Simpson doesn’t finish in the top three this week, it will be his first year since 2010 not to have a top-three finish at a PGA Tour event. However, he’s pretty consistent, regularly finishing in the top twenties and hitting the ball well despite several injuries throughout the year. Webb isn’t too far off the form of the two previous years – two strokes gained per round on average would get him back in contention for trophies. He likes this tournament and has fared well in it in recent years, with a second-place finish in 2019 and a third-place finish in 2018. Simpson will be hoping to finish 2021 on a high with another strong finish here at The Sea Island Golf Club.
The (Probable) next Ryder Cup captain may be entering the twilight of his career and has missed three cuts in his last four starts, but he enjoys playing golf here. He has had a top ten finish every season since 2003 and will be hoping to end the year strongly to maintain that record. The 45-year old has three top-ten finishes in his last four starts at Sea Island, so he may be one to watch this week.