Sobel’s 2019 RSM Classic Betting Guide: Is Now the Time for Scottie Scheffler?
Ray Carlin, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler
In today’s hyperbolic society, we can produce a Statistic of the Year on a daily basis and never even think twice about it, which means referring to the following stat with such terminology will likely get overlooked. But let’s try it anyway.
With a victory at the Mayakoba Classic on Monday morning, directly on the heels of his victory in Bermuda in his previous start, Brendon Todd now owns as many individual wins on sanctioned tours during the 2019 calendar year as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm; one more than Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Rickie Fowler; and two more than Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott – combined.
This is the same Brendon Todd who won his only prior PGA Tour title in 2014, then lost his game, lost his card, lost status on any circuit, clawed his way back on to the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, earned his PGA Tour status back and shortly thereafter won as many times as the world’s No. 1-ranked player has won all year.
All of which brings us to this week.
The PGA Tour heads to Sea Island for the RSM Classic, a regular haven for the large group of PGA Tour local residents and Bermuda greens specialists who make this tourney an appealing one to bet, because it so closely encapsulates what so many pros do best.
In fact, if you’d asked me three weeks ago which of this trio of events would best serve Todd, I likely would’ve picked this one, as the Seaside course provides familiar surroundings, even if he hasn’t played his best golf here in the past.
As stats guru Justin Ray tweeted, only four players have won three consecutive PGA Tour starts since the turn of the century: Tiger Woods (four times), Vijay Singh, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, which is one reason why you’ll only see Todd’s name again near the end of this column.
Instead, let’s find some other Southeasterners who should flourish at a spot where many of them have played so well in the past.
One player to win the tournament.
Scottie Scheffler (+3000)
According to GolfOdds.com, Scheffler opened his PGA Tour rookie season at 40-1 for the Greenbrier Classic, which sounds like an aggressive number for a player who’d just gotten his card, but was tied for 10th-lowest in a field where he eventually finished T-7.
In his next start, Scheffler opened at 25-1 for the Sanderson Farms (tied for fourth-lowest), then finished T-16. From there, it gets a little strange. Despite two solid starts, he was 50-1 entering the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he finished T-74. Then back down to 25-1 in Houston, where he was T-28.
Even lower after that for an admittedly poor Bermuda field, where he finished T-3. Then back up to 30-1 for Mayakoba last week, where his T-18 has garnered another 30-1 open for this event. The rookie has certainly met expectations so far and while his odds are probably in just about the right spot for him now, it feels like there’s still some value in being tied for the seventh-lowest number on the board.
He’s going to win and I think he’s going to win soon. For a player who’s fared well in the big leagues so far, there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it this week.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Ben Martin (+20000)
It should go without saying that if I like a guy as a potential OAD selection, then I similarly like him for a top-20 bet and low-end DFS play. Martin won twice on the KFT in 2013, then on the PGA Tour the next year in Las Vegas, but his game has fallen on hard times in recent years.
Even with a T-20 last week, he’s only 881st in the world, which doesn’t feel like much of a sure thing. But that includes opening rounds of 67-69-66 before a final-round 72 and a ball-striking performance that left him T-6 for greens in regulation. I won’t pretend to have all the answers to his long-term capabilities, but he could be a smart play for this one.
One player to finish top-five.
Harris English (+650 for top five)
I didn’t mention English’s name in last week’s column, perhaps the only tournament preview that didn’t, which only differentiates me as a counteractive contrarian.
My feeling was that he’d be extremely chalky (which he was) and might have trouble living up to the hype (which he didn’t). A 16th-hole double-bogey during the Monday finish was his ultimate undoing, leaving him solo fifth when it was all said and done, but that shouldn’t mask the fact that he’s playing some of his best golf in years.
He’ll be a chalky play yet again this week, but with four finishes of sixth-or-better in his last five starts, it might be worth riding with him anyway.
One player to finish top-10.
Robby Shelton (+1100 for top 10)
It’s not just that Shelton finished T-6 last week in Mayakoba, it’s that he did so while ranked T-4 in greens in regulation and 19th in putting average.
He now owns two top-10s in seven starts since getting a PGA Tour card and his track record shows that the University of Alabama product plays some of his best golf in the Southeastern states, with two KFT victories in Tennessee earlier this year.
One player to finish top-20.
Chris Kirk (+333 for top 20)
Oh, so you thought the Brendon Todd story was the best one we’ll witness for the remainder of the year? Well, that might be true, but a title contention by Kirk could give that story a run for its’ money. The four-time PGA Tour champion won at Sea Island in 2013, but his career was derailed last year when he felt the need to get his life in order, publicly announcing that he was taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. In his comeback last week, he finished T-32. If he could return here and somehow win again, we’d have a new front-runner for Story of the Year.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
Webb Simpson (DK $11,600; FD $11,800)
I usually try to stay away from the most expensive player on the board for this category, because being the most expensive should also ensure the guy owns a pretty high floor.
Naming Simpson here is less about his abilities this week, though, and more about how many low-end options are available. If you’re paying attention, you should be able to find enough cheap plays that Webb can still fit easily into any lineup.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
D.J. Trahan (DK $6,500; FD $8,000)
In case you’re wondering which low-cost options to pair with the Simpson comment from above, there are plenty: I like Robert Streb, Adam Schenk, Dominic Bozzelli and Matthew NeSmith, in addition to Martin and Kirk listed above, but Trahan gets the nod here. He’s finished 24th-45th-MC-36th in four PGA Tour starts this season, but I’m looking at some way-back results from this event for the reason to include him in your lineups, as he was T-11 in 2011 and T-4 the next year.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
The reality is, I like Henley for all four rounds, but I’ll take him for FRL based on some recent history. In five starts so far this season, he’s yet to post a score higher than 70, including a pair of 66s during his last two Thursday rounds.
Henley owns a strong track record here, with three top-10s in his last four starts, so here’s hoping he parlays those results into some early confidence this week.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Hey, we can’t preview a Southeast event with Bermuda greens and not mention Harman, who’s made a career of feasting on these types of tracks. His recent results aren’t too exciting, but the Georgia Bulldog owns two career top-10s here and – more importantly – probably owns more value at this event than he has in the past. This is a classic buy-low scenario that’s safe for matchups and even owns some potential for outrights.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Brendon Todd (+4000)
Don’t shoot the messenger. In the intro, I wrote about that stat which shows only big-time superstars have won three in a row during the past two decades. Not only am I fading Todd for a win, though, I’ve got to believe his recent run of success will force him to hit a wall at some point, the physical and emotional strain of winning twice in three weeks at some point leading to a few higher scores.
My favorite non-PGA Tour play of the week.
I’ll give you a 3-for-1 with my favorite players from three different tours…
CME Group Tour Championship: Lydia Ko (+6000)
Look, you would’ve lost a lot of money blindly betting futures for the phenom who seemed like a world-beater just a few short years ago. The former No. 1-ranked player in the world is down to 35th, but she’s shown some form recently, with seven straight finishes inside the top-35 (though only one of them inside the top-20). On a circuit so often dominated by those with short odds, I’ll take a chance on Ko, who owns four top-10s in her last five starts here.
Dunlop Phoenix: Chan Kim (+3000)
You won’t find too much value in a field this thin, but I’ll skip past the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa and Gary Woodland, instead taking a chance on Chan, the former Arizona State star who won the Japan Open last month and acquitted himself well in a couple of starts against PGA Tour stars during the Asia Swing recently.
DP World Tour Championship: Matthias Schwab (+3000)
Fade Rory at your own risk here, as the pre-tourney favorite could easily lap the field in the European Tour’s season finale. Making his debut at this event, Schwab has been knocking on the door for his first career professional victory too long now, finishing eighth-or-better in six of his last nine starts.
He’s had lower odds in recent weeks, but the influx of superstars at this one leaves Schwab a solid value play if he can overcome Rory and company.