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Tom Jacobs is back for the final First Round Leader article of 2022, as the PGA Tour waves goodbye to 2022, at the RSM Classic this week.

Originally known as the McGladrey Classic when it first started in 2010, this event has evolved over the years, not just changing the title, but also the event altogether. For the first five renewals, this event was played solely on the Seaside Course, but in 2015, the Plantation Course was introduced and this event became a multi-course event.

This event is a birdie-makers paradise, as both courses at Sea Island offer very little in terms of defense. These are resort courses in the truest sense, here in Sea Island, Georgia, where many PGA Tour pros reside - so a hot putter will be required to keep pace.

Before we get into detail about RSM Classic Odds and Picks, we want to first bring your attention to the Bet 5, Win $125 guaranteed promo from FanDuel Sportsbook. This FanDuel promo code will allow you bet $5 on any of the selections below, and lock in a guaranteed $125 return, even if it loses. On top of that, if your first bet does come in, you will keep the initial profit made, plus the $125 bonus, offering you the chance to win BIG during the first round of the RSM Classic.

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Last week's winner, and World No.12, Tony Finau was scheduled to play this week, but he has now withdrawn through injury... or just no longer wants to play! This leaves Seamus Power and Brian Harman as the highest-ranked golfers in the field.

That should tell you everything you need to know about this RSM Classic, but it doesn't take away from the fact that there is still some great value to be had this week when looking at the First Round Leader market.

Let's take a look at what is required, in order to end the day as the First Round Leader here, at the RSM Classic.

First Round Leader Strategy for the RSM Classic

The RSM Classic is one of the unique events on the PGA Tour, like the Farmers Insurance Open, where players will tee it up on two different courses throughout the week. This has been the case since 2015 when the Plantation Course was introduced, and now players will alternate between the Par 72 Plantation Course and Par 70 Seaside Course over the first two days.

Below we can see the First Round leaders of this event since 2015, and where they have come from. In the years where a player has shot the lowest score, but someone has shot a lower score in relation to par at the Plantation Course, and was, therefore, the First Round Leader, we have highlighted both below. The name in bold each year was the First Round Leader and the player that cashed First Round Leader tickets.

  • 2021 - Sebastian Munoz 60 (-10) at Seaside Course - Lowest Score and Lowest to Par
  • 2020 –Camilo Villegas & Matt Wallace 64 (-6) at Seaside Course – Lowest Score and Lowest to Par
  • 2019 – Lowest Score - KH Lee & Cameron Tringale 64 (-6) at Seaside – Lowest to Par Webb Simpson 65 at Plantation (-7)
  • 2018 – Charles Howell III 64 (-8) at Plantation – Lowest Score and Lowest to Par
  • 2017 – Chris Kirk 63 (-9) at Plantation – Lowest Score and Lowest to Par
  • 2016 – Mackenzie Hughes 61 (-9) at Seaside – Lowest Score and Lowest to Par
  • 2015 – Lowest Scott - Jeff Overton, Tom Hoge, David Hearn 64 (-6) at Seaside – Lowest to Par Kevin Kisner 65 (-7) at Plantation

As you can see above, four times since this event started being played on two courses in 2015, the first-round leader has come from the Plantation Course, and on three occasions they have come from the Seaside Course.

Renovations were made to the Plantation Course by Davis Love III and his brother Mark Love and these were completed in 2019. Since then, the first round leader(s) has come from the Seaside Course on both renewals. Mackenzie Hughes and Scott Stallings did however both shoot nine-under 63s at the Plantation last year, which would have been good for the first-round lead every other year, but Sebastian Munoz had other ideas.

In 2020, Adam Long and Cameron Tringale both shots 5-under 67s at the Plantation Course, falling just one short of the first-round lead as well, so while the Seaside Course has produced the first-round leader over the past couple of years, the Plantation Course used to be the course to target, and even over the past couple of years, players there have had a chance to lead going into Friday.

With this in mind, I actually think you can split your first-round leader selections over both courses, as you look to give yourself multiple chances of winning.

Do not make your RSM Classic Picks in the First Round Leader market, without first looking at the RSM Classic Odds, and then the RSM Classic Round 1 tee times, to see where your player pegs it up on Thursday.

Who Are The Fastest Starters in this Field?

Here are the top-5 fastest starters in the RSM Classic field, based on the 2021/22 Round 1 Scoring Average rankings.

Matt Kuchar

  • Ranked 6th in Round 1 Scoring Average in 2021/22
  • Round 1 Scoring Average last season - 68.50
  • Lowest Round 1 Score in 2021/22 - 64 (Sony Open)

Wyndham Clark

  • Ranked 14th in Round 1 Scoring Average in 2021/22
  • Round 1 Scoring Average last season – 69.21
  • Lowest Round 1 Score in 2021/22 - 63 (Canadian Open)

Jason Day

  • Ranked 15th in Round 1 Scoring Average in 2021/22
  • Round 1 Scoring Average last season – 69.22
  • Lowest Round 1 Score in 2021/22 - 63 (Wells Fargo)

Denny McCarthy

  • Ranked 16th in Round 1 Scoring Average in 2021/22
  • Round 1 Scoring Average last season - 69.25
  • Lowest Round 1 Score in 2021/22 - 65 (Wells Fargo)

Webb Simpson

  • Ranked 17th in Round 1 Scoring Average in 2021/22
  • Round 1 Scoring Average last season - 69.26
  • Lowest Round 1 Score in 2021/22 - 64 (Travelers Championship)

Until we have more data on the 22/23 PGA Tour Season, we will continue to look at last season's rankings, as that includes events right up until the TOUR Championship, with a lot of the rankings attributed to golfer's play in 2022. This means the data is still relevant enough for this event.

What Score Is Required To Lead After Round 1?

This isn't a straightforward question this week, as the scores will differ based on the Par 70 Seaside Course, and the Par 72 Plantation Course. A minimum score of 64 (-6) on the Seaside Course would likely be needed to have any shot at the first-round lead, while a 66 (-6) or better at the Plantation Course will also give you a chance.

RSM Classic Odds: Top 5 in the First Round Leader Market

Here are the top 5 among the RSM Classic Odds, when it comes to the First Round Leader Market.

In the table below, you will find the best price and the implied chance of each of the top 5 in this market.

PlayerFirst Round Leader OddsImplied Chance
Brian Harman+33002.9%
Seamus Power+40002.4%
Jason Day+40002.4%
Taylor Montgomery+40002.4%
Tom Hoge+40002.4%

RSM Classic First Round Leader Selections

Joel Dahmen +3500 (Bet $1, Win $200 Guaranteed With Bet365)

Joel Dahmen is my favorite outright bet of the week and has been on my radar for a number of weeks now. I backed him to lead here after round one last year, and while his opening 65 at the Seaside Course wasn't good enough, it was certainly another fine effort.

Dahmen has shot rounds of 61 and 65 at the Seaside Course and also posted a 64 at the Par 72 Plantation Course. Two of those scores would generally be good enough to lead, or at least be in contention here, after round one, and I think he can find something between his previous 61 and 65 efforts here, to contend for the lead.

Since missing the cut at the Fortinet, Dahmen has been in great form, finishing no worse than 37th in five starts since, posting four top-16 finishes in that span. 3rd and 9th over the past two weeks were his best efforts of the season so far, and his ball-striking suggests a real low round is coming soon.

Dahmen ranked 8th in SG Approach last week, and 6th in SG Tee to Green, and that builds on an incredible run. In the events where strokes gained data was available this season, Dahmen has now ranked 11th, 12th, and 8th in SG Approach and 1st, 11th, and 6th in SG Tee to Green, and he is by far the most reliable tee to green player in this field right now, with Finau out.

Over the course of his career, Joel Dahmen has ended round 1 two shots back of the first-round lead 29 times, converting 9 into first-round leads, 5 of which came on the PGA Tour.

Dahmen will start his week on the Seaside Course, and I suspect he can go low enough there, to lead here after Round 1.

Joel Dahmen will tee off #1 tee at the Seaside Course at 10:30 am with Jason Day and Seamus Power

Keith Mitchell +5500 (Bet $1, Win $200 Guaranteed with Bet365)

Keith Mitchell has twice hit rounds of 66 at the Plantation Course, and asking him to go just a couple of shots lower this time around to give us a run, doesn't seem like too much of an ask.

Last week, Mitchell opened with a 66 to sit 4th on day one at the Houston Open, and he closed with a 66, ranking 6th in SG Approach and 11th in SG Tee to Green in the process. That was a much-improved iron performance for Mitchell who has been hitting his driver as well as anyone this season, and now he can combine the two for a low round on Thursday.

Despite some poor finishes, in general, this season, Mitchell has opened the Shriners with a 65 to sit 5th on day one, and with a 66 last week to sit 4th, and I see him shooting a low one again here to get his week off to a hot start.

18 times in his career, Keith Mitchell has ended round 1 within two shots of the lead, but he is yet to hold a Thursday lead on the PGA Tour, despite holding an opening-day lead twice on the Korn Ferry. Clearly, he is overdue then, and this is the week.

A Georgia Bulldog, who resides in Sea Island, this event is always one he will always enjoy, and he can prove that once again on Thursday.

Keith Mitchell will tee off #10 tee at the Plantation Course, at 10:10 am with Chris Stroud and Dylan Frittelli

Ben Griffin +10000 (Bet $1, Win $200 Guaranteed With Bet365)

Ben Griffin holed out for an eagle on his last hole on the Plantation Course back in July to record a 59, and while he won't replicate that score, or probably even one like it, something like a 63 or 64 would get the job done here.

Griffin made his way onto the PGA Tour this season, and quickly finished 24th at the Sanderson Farms, where he was 10th after 36 holes.

At the Bermuda Championship, he opened with rounds of 65, 64, and 66 to lead going into the final round, and looked good right up until the back nine on Sunday. He ultimately blew up and finished 3rd that week, but bounced back with a 66 in the opening round at Mayakoba.

Last week, Griffin played well again opening 67-67 and finishing 16th on a tough course at the Houston Open.

This event should be better suited to his game, and after finishing 2nd three times in his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour, and 3rd in just his fourth start on the PGA Tour, it is clear, Griffin is a stud.

His best OWGR finish came when 4th at the Wyndham, an event that requires a similar skillset to this, and he should feel at home at this event, as a former pro and member of Sea Island.

Griffin can continue his fine start to this Rookie PGA Tour season, with another low round on the Plantation Course.

Ben Griffin will tee off #10 tee at the Plantation Course at 11:00 am with Dylan Wu and Harry Higgs

Patton Kizzire +10000 ($1000 Risk-Free Bet With BetMGM)

Patton Kizzire popped up two weeks ago with a 10th-place finish from nowhere and was actually 2nd going into Sunday. That finish at the Mayakoba is a great sign for this week, as it shows he may be in good enough form to take advantage of the sort of events that suit him - this being one of them.

Kizzire has played here 8 times, and his best finishes are a 10th in 2020, and a 15th in 2018, but when you look deeper, there are a bunch of great rounds among his starts here.

On debut, he opened with a 66 on the Seaside Course to sit 5th on day one, three years later he hit a 65 in round two but still missed the cut, and he has followed that up with multiple low rounds since. He opened with a 66 in 2017 to sit 8th after round one, and in that same week shot a Saturday 63, and another round of 66 on Sunday. When 10th here two years ago, he opened with rounds of 65-66 to sit 3rd at the end of both days, and despite falling away on Saturday, Kizzire bounced back with a 66 on Sunday.

With multiple sub-66 rounds at the Seaside course, including a 63 already under his belt, Patton Kizzire can certainly fire a low one on Thursday.

Patton Kizzire has one first-round lead at Mayakoba under his belt, as he opened with a 62 there to lead on day one, and a similar skillset is required here, to succeed. 16 times in total Kizzire has been within two of the first-round lead, and many have come at events just like this.

Patton Kizzire will tee off #1 tee at the Seaside Course at 10:20 am with Danny Lee and Kevin Chappell

Austin Cook +12500 (Bet $1, Win $200 Guaranteed With Bet365)

Austin Cook is playing some solid golf right now, and he is a former winner of this event, back in 2017. He came back a year later and finished 11th when defending, and both of those finishes clearly give us confidence this week.

Twice, he opened with rounds of 66 at the Plantation Course, back in 2017 and 2018, and given the way he is playing right now, he has to be worth a second look.

In his last three starts, Cook has only managed to finish the week 44th, 27th, and 27th again, but he's spiked in individual rounds. When 44th at the Bermuda Championship, he opened with rounds of 68-67-67 to sit 13th going into the final day, a week later he closed with rounds of 67-66-68 in Mexico, and then last week he opened 68-67 in Houston.

He hasn't quite popped with the low round of the day just yet, but he's warming up for a big round, and it would make sense that it would come at an event he has won once and finished 11th at again a year later.

14 times in his career, Austin Cook has been within two of the first-round lead, leading on the Korn Ferry once, and co-leading after round one at the Houston Open in 2019.

Austin Cook will tee off #1 tee at the Plantation Course at 9:00 am with Brandon Wu and Max McGreevy

Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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