The final event of the PGA Tour’s new FedEx Cup Fall is this week at the RSM Classic.
Players have one last tournament to try to improve their status for 2024. That could mean grabbing the last 10 spots from Nos. 51-60 to get into the first two Signature Events.
It could mean making the top 125 to keep full playing privileges for next season, save for Signature Events. It could mean gunning for the top 150 to preserve conditional status.
Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Georgia, is this week’s venue. The RSM Classic is in its 13th edition.
The Plantation and Seaside courses will be in play for the field of 156 for the first two rounds. Seaside is the sole host on the weekend for top 65 and ties.
Seaside is a 7,005-yard par-70 designed by Harry S. Colt in the late 1920s and redesigned in the 2000s by Tom Fazio.
The fairways and greens are larger than average and bunkering is light throughout the course. The main defense is wind and rough that is thick in spots.
Green speeds tend to be slightly above average. Overseeded Bermuda, common on Southeastern U.S. courses, is prevalent throughout.
The Plantation course measures 7,058 yards for a par 72. Davis Love III and his design team redesigned it before the 2019 RSM Classic. Bunkers were moved to better challenge the pros and green complexes were altered to more classic styles.
Fairways and tees at Plantation switched from Bermudagrass to Platinum paspalum. Greens are still Bermuda.
Scores tend to be pretty low at the RSM Classic.
Winners finished at 14-under or better every year and 19-under or better each of the last six editions.
The weather forecast is windy all week with rain expected during the practice rounds. It’s supposed to dry out and stay gusty through tournament rounds with temperatures in the 50s-70s Fahrenheit.
Let’s see who can close 2023 in style:
OWGR: 101st, 2022-23 FedEx Cup: 51st,
Mackenzie Hughes burst onto the scene as a rookie when he won the 2016 RSM Classic (then the McGladrey Classic).
He had to earn every bit of it, emerging from a five-man playoff that extended into Monday. An 18-foot par putt from off the green won it for Hughes in dramatic fashion. He carded rounds of 61-67-68-69.
“The Seaside course kind of has some bigger fairways when there’s not any wind blowing, but when the wind’s blowing, you’ve got those crosswinds going, the fairways seem kind of small,” Hughes was transcribed in 2017 by Tee Scripts. “The golf courses are awesome. They’re both kind of different styles. I think the Seaside’s more, I don’t want to say linksy but it has that linksy feel to it, and the Plantation’s a bit more tree-lined.”
The magic wore off quick at this event for the Canadian, who went MC-MC-T65-MC his next four trips. Undeterred, Hughes nearly won this event again in 2021 when he posted 63-68-70-62 for solo second.
That 19-under-par total would have gotten him into a playoff each of the previous three years and would’ve won outright in 2016. No such luck this time with Talor Gooch winning by three and setting the tournament record.
Hughes missed the cut again in 2022.
The 32-year-old Kent State alum has a great short game that ought to help him this week in the wind. He’s eighth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (.377).
Hughes comes into St. Simons Island with some momentum. He took T-7th in his last start a couple weeks ago at the World Wide Technology Championship.