2022 RSM Classic Odds, Expert Picks & Preview: Find Value with Scott Stallings, Brian Harman, Nick Hardy & More at Sea Island Golf Club
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Scott Stallings
Click arrow to expand 2022 RSM Classic odds via bet365
|Paul Haley II||+35000|
|Davis Love III||+125000|
Before we break down the final full-field event on the PGA TOUR for this calendar year, a few words about Tony Finau, who cruised to a victory at the Cadence Bank Houston Open over the weekend.
As we might say about an emerging linebacker who keeps disrupting the opposing team’s backfield or the power forward who creates unique matchup issues: This guy is gonna be a problem.
I say this in the most flattering way possible, of course. Finau was long known as a player with immense talent who couldn’t quite get the job done when it mattered most, winning just once — in an alternate-field event, at that — in his first 185 career starts.
That futility is now a thing of the past, though, as he’s won four times in his past 30 events (and three times in his last seven starts). The proverbial lid is officially off, as he’s found growing confidence in his own immense abilities during these opportunities.
“Sometimes you just don't know what the day's going to bring,” he said after the four-stroke victory. “Those emotions you just have to fight throughout the day, and I was able to fight them and just execute when I needed to. I definitely have the confidence to win, and I showed that out there today.”
There are those who will insist that Finau still isn’t much of a closer, pointing out that his three wins this year — at the 3M Open, Rocket Mortgage Classic and in Houston — came against inferior fields at tournaments which are hardly considered the most important.
This isn’t untrue, but my counterpoint is that this is what the journey to a major championship looks like. There are very few players who win a big one without some struggles along the way, or at least without a learning curve on how to win.
Finau has started to figure it all out. There’s never been any denying his world-class talents. Throw a healthy dose of confidence into the recipe, and you’ve got a player seemingly on the verge of major success.
I get it: Many observers (and bettors) will remain forever skeptical until they see it, but this is the part where I’ll remind you that no player ever had the experience of winning a major until he won his first. It sounds obvious, but believing something can’t happen just because it hasn’t happened previously is a theory which will result in being wrong an awful lot.
With four top fives and 10 top 10s in 26 career major appearances, Finau seems primed to make that leap now that he’s learned how to win at the highest level.
With his most recent win, Finau helped further a trend during the fall portion of the schedule – one which probably delights the folks at PGA TOUR HQ but discourages bettors trying to find a sleeper.
Editor's Note: As of late Tuesday morning, Tony Finau has withdrawn from The RSM Classic.
This is supposed to be Longshot SZN, but instead we’ve been treated to a bunch of players at somewhat short odds who have won these events. Here are those numbers, according to the archive at golfodds.com:
|Player||Tournament||Odds and Place on Odds Board|
|Max Homa||Fortinet Championship||18/1, T1|
|Mackenzie Hughes||Sanderson Farms Championship||100/1, T44|
|Tom Kim||Shriners Children's Open||25/1, 5|
|Keegan Bradley||ZOZO Championship||30/1, T9|
|Rory McIlroy||THE CJ CUP||7/1, 1|
|Seamus Power||Butterfield Bermuda Championship||20/1, T1|
|Russell Henley||WWT Championship at Mayakoba||35/1, T9|
|Tony Finau||Cadence Bank Houston Open||16/1, T3|
As you can see, only one of the first eight winners this season owned pre-tourney odds greater than 35/1, and only one of ‘em was outside the top 10 on the initial board–thank you, Mr. Hughes.
All of which brings us to this week’s RSM Classic, which over the past half-dozen years has served as a total dichotomy of what we’ve witnessed this year.
|Year||Winner||Odds and Place on Odds Board|
|2021||Talor Gooch||40/1, T11|
|2020||Robert Streb||300/1, T113|
|2019||Tyler Duncan||150/1, T67|
|2018||Charles Howell III||40/1, T12|
|2017||Austin Cook||60/1, T25|
|2016||Mackenzie Hughes||200/1, T69|
During this time, there have been no winners from inside the top 10 on the board, nobody shorter than 40/1, and half of the winners have started with triple-digit prices.
None of that is to suggest that this is definitively the week where we finally have a longshot champion–just that there’s at least some reason for optimism if you’re simply hoping to cash a lottery ticket.
The other interesting trend is that this event is seemingly a perfect spot for your favorite SEC graduate, preferably one who lives nearby and serves in the de facto Sea Island Mafia, yet none of the past six winners – since Kevin Kisner claimed this title in 2015 – fit the profile. Again, that’s not to say it can’t happen, just that we might need to tweak the narrative a bit.
With three rounds on the Seaside Course (7,005-yard par-70) and one on the Plantation Course (7,060-yard par-72), there are certainly players who fit this one more than others.
Let’s get to the picks, starting with a player who’s been trending in the right direction for a while.
One player to win the tournament
Scott Stallings (+6600)
It’s somehow been almost nine full years since Stallings’ last of three PGA TOUR victories, though I’m not sure we could imply that he’s underachieved or underperformed during that time.
In fact, at age 37, he might’ve just enjoyed his best campaign so far, with seven top 10s and 12 top 25s in 31 starts last season, including a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship which got him into the TOUR Championship for the first time.
That alone is a major checkpoint toward success, if not for the confidence factor, then for the more palpable ability to set a playing schedule ahead of time and cherry-pick the events which best suit his game.
This one hasn’t always suited him, as he’s made the cut in 7-of-9 starts, but hasn’t finished better than 29th since a T-9 back in 2016. Then again, I go back to the point that he’s playing better golf than any of those previous years. He’s played just three events in the new season (13th-40th-58th), but last season finished 71st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 68th Around the Green and 44th in Putting.
None of those stats leap off the page, but we can put ‘em all together and find one of the game’s more well-rounded non-superstars, a guy who’s performed well enough to claim that elusive next victory. This is a week where I’ll have a few players on the card from this area on the board, but Stallings has as much upside as any of them.
Potential selections for one-and-done pools
Brian Harman (+1800)
I'm not gonna lie: Prior to the odds being released, Harman was on my short list of potential favorite outright plays, but I never considered he’d be this price, the second-shortest odds behind only Finau, which is a stark contrast to his 80/1 number here last year.
There was some nice symmetry with him finishing runner-up to fellow UGA Bulldog Russell Henley at Mayakoba a few weeks ago, as those are the two players I’ve earmarked over the past 18-24 months most due for some positive regression. Essentially, their results weren’t quite equating to their performances.
I still like having some sort of Harman investment this week, despite owning just a pair of top 10s in 10 starts at a venue which should be right up his alley. For those in full-year OADs, he’s certainly in the mix, not to mention for DFS or maybe in a H2H matchup at plus-money against Finau.
Stephan Jaeger (+8000)
If you like Sepp Straka, you should love Jaeger – another player with a European flag next to his name who grew up in the South and plays his best golf on Bermuda surfaces.
Coming off a T9 last week in Houston, Jaeger has shown a high floor (just one MC in his last nine starts) and a potential ceiling that is still growing. Last year, he opened with a 66 but posted a 75 the next day to miss the cut. I’ll take that as a glass-half-full analysis toward his prospects this week.
Patton Kizzire (+15000)
Run, don’t walk, to any proverbial betting window offering up this number on Kizzire. Just as I didn’t see Harman being so short, I also didn’t see Kizzire being so long, not after getting into the penultimate pairing on Sunday afternoon at Mayakoba in his most recent start, eventually finishing T10, but hinting along the way that he might’ve found something moving forward.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this number drops to something closer to 100/1 or even shorter by Thursday morning, so jump on it while it’s still available.
One player to finish top five
Denny McCarthy (+750 for top five)
There are enough players whose games are a perfect fit for a shorter track with Bermuda greens, but perhaps nobody receives more of a bump than McCarthy. We’ve long known that he’s one of the game’s preeminent putters.
What’s made him a more enticing play to win – or at least contend – for the first time is his improving ball-striking numbers. Three seasons ago, he ranked 162nd in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Two seasons ago he was 157th, last season he was 114th, and in six starts this season he’s 95th.
Look, he’s never going to be Justin Thomas or Collin Morikawa with an iron in his hand, but unlike the great ball-strikers who just need to putt a little bit better than the field average in order to contend, he’s a great putter who just needs to hit it a little better than average. That’s starting to happen more often than not, which gives us optimism that he can improve upon an RSM record which shows a T8 and T10 among his last three starts.
One player to finish top 10
Nick Hardy (+500 for top 10)
I’ve admittedly been on Hardy a lot recently, but I make no apologies for backing a player who currently ranks eighth in Strokes Gained on Approach.
This is about to be a leap year for the Illinois native, whose ranking of 175th in the OWGR should at least be cut in half by season’s end, if not much better than that. He’s finished 21st-23rd-44th-5th in his last four starts, and I like another top-10 finish here.
One player to finish top 20
Davis Thompson (+350 for top 20)
Here’s your chalky value narrative play of the week that makes way too much sense to not tail. Thompson is the son of the RSM Classic tournament director, and when I asked him on my SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show how many times he’s played the Seaside course, he just laughed and said he couldn’t even guess.
But the rookie has more going for him than just the narrative–he’s also immensely talented. Thompson hasn’t missed a cut in four starts so far, which includes a pair of top-12 finishes. By the time all the golf betting pundits like myself get done waxing poetic about his chances this week, I expect his outright price of 100/1 to be much shorter and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of the highest-owned DFS plays of the week. All for good reason.
One player to finish top 30
Lee Hodges (-190 for Top 30)
I’ve written up Hodges in a few other previews recently, and despite last week’s MC, I’m not moving away from this one. Already with a pair of top-30 finishes this season, he’s a solid player who should cash plenty of conservative props this season.
One player to finish top 40
Jonathan Byrd (+350 for top 40)
At 44, he’s not the same player he was a decade ago, but Byrd has shown he still has some game in limited starts. He has top-40 finishes in two of his last three starts and a top-40 finish at this event in three of his last six. There are certainly players at, say, even-money who have a better chance of cashing this bet if you want to play it more cautiously, but if you’re looking for a bigger payout with good value, I like the idea here.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS lineups
From Aaron Wise to Seamus Power to Thomas Detry, there are a handful of players who have done a world of good for themselves with a hot start to the season here in the fall months, and NeSmith’s name is firmly on that list, as well.
He finished in the top 10 in three straight events before a T53 last week in Houston, but this one should suit his game much better, as evidenced by his track record. NeSmith owns results of 29th-15th-14th in three previous starts here, with 10 rounds of 68 or better in 12 tries.
A lower-priced option for DFS lineups
At this point I’m probably just profiling, but another ball-striker who thrives on shorter tracks and Bermuda greens seems too good to pass up. Sigg doesn’t own a great record here – a T49 and two MCs in three starts – but six consecutive made cuts shows he owns a nice floor which should pay off in DFS.
One player to post the low round Thursday
Will Gordon (+5000 for First-Round Leader)
With two courses in play for the first two rounds, you’ll essentially have double the number of chances to lose your money on FRL bets! I kid, I kid. On either course, you’ll have to pick a player who can take it deep, as last year, Sebastian Munoz opened with a 10-under 60 on the Seaside, while Hughes and Stallings started with matching 9-under 63s on the Plantation.
For full disclosure, as always, I’m writing this preview before the tee times have been released, but Gordon is a player I not only like for this event, but especially on Thursday, as he’s posted a 66.50 first-round scoring average in six starts this season, including an opening 62 at Mayakoba two weeks ago.
One player who should beat comparable players
Brendon Todd (+6000)
I like targeting players in matchups who maintain a high floor, essentially giving us a chance to win on both Friday and Sunday. Todd has cashed a check in eight of his last nine starts overall and six times in eight career starts at The RSM Classic. This price feels a little short to chase him as an outright play, but against similarly priced players such as Wyndham Clark, Aaron Rai or Harris English, I think he makes for a nice choice.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value
Keith Mitchell (+3000), Joel Dahmen (+4000), Taylor Moore (+4500), Matt Kuchar (+4500), Davis Riley (+5000), Chris Kirk (+6500), Justin Lower (+8000), Hayden Buckley (+8000), Robbie Shelton (+10000), Ben Griffin (+10000), Sam Ryder (+15000), Chesson Hadley (+18000), Doc Redman (+40000)
One player to win on another tour
Robert Macintyre (+3500)
It’s tough to look too far past Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm at this season’s DP World Tour Championship, until you see their ultra-short outright prices, as they’re listed at +330 and +500, respectively.
No thank you.
I’ll look for a bigger number here without venturing too far down the board, and Bobby Mac is one of the few who shows some value. After struggling for much of the year, he won the DS Automobiles Italian Open in a playoff over Matt Fitzpatrick two months ago and since then hasn’t finished worse than 32nd in five starts.
He’s been 4th-23rd-14th the past three years in Dubai, and a win this week would once again move the Scotsman to atop the list of next big stars coming from Europe.