This was supposed to be around 600 words why Tony Finau was going to win back-to-back for the second time in five months. Sadly, with today’s withdrawal, not only has the best value in the field gone awol, but the RSM Classic reverts to its status as the bizarre end-of-season chance for a lesser name to win.

While the DP World Tour ends its season at the end of the year, Sea Island Golf Club hosts the ninth event of the ‘new’ 2022/2023, before two novelty events take us through to the new year.

Coastal but gettable, the mix of the Seaside and Plantation courses pray for the wind to make any barrier to good scoring, but despite the potential disasters, winning scores over the past five years average 20-under.

18+ | 

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2017 winner Austin Cook said that there is a big plus for players with previous looks at the courses, while Scott Brown and Webb Simpson disagree on the new, undulating greens – the former stating that if you get on the wrong side of the green, “it’s a tough two putt“, whilst two-time runner-up, Simpson, says that with the slopes, ” you can really use those slopes to help you and get the ball in the hole.”

The same thing, but different.

With ‘Big Tone’ out, this becomes an unappealing tournament to bet on. However, with winners Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Mackenzie Hughes and Talor Gooch (along with Simpson) showing a bit at various Open Championships, there is a clear link between coastal conditions around the globe.

Seamus Power - Each Way

This now becomes a much easier event for the likes of in-form Seamus Power and Brian Harman to win.

The latter has made 11 of his last 12 cuts (since July), finishing in the top-20 at the lucrative and elite Tour Championship before a run of 15th, 23rd and latterly, running-up to a rampant Russell Henley in Mexico.

The only issue I have with the local 35-year-old is the lack of an individual victory over the last five years, but with a recent Open record of 19th and then tied-sixth, his claims are there to see.

Power also has decent claims after playing the best golf of his career.

Always well regarded, it took a spell at the lower level for him to find his game, but

There were periods during ‘Lockdown’ and soon after, when he seemed unfazed by the sport, mentioning it was good living and not particularly focussed on the trophies.

That seems to have changed now, and after winning the 2021 Barbasol Championship, the Irishman has steadily climbed the rankings, his latest victory in Bermuda (significant for wind and greens) and third at the Mayakoba seeing him rise to 30th and available for all the major tournaments in 2023.

Power lost many strokes with his irons at the latter part of last season, but has clearly sorted out the issue. With no strokes-gained data available at either Mayakoba or Bermuda, the old-fashioned numbers report him ranking 9th and first for greens-in-regulation. With that quality putting on Bermuda greens a tremendous bonus, he has to go close, and further any claims he has to a place at the 2023 Ryder Cup.

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Joel Dahmen - Each Way

Back up Power with Joel Dahmen, another in-form golfer and winner of the coastal Corales Puntacana Championship in 2021.

There was a period during Lockdown when the 35-year-old seemed more interested in being a social media personality than a competitive golfer at the highest level. That has changed, with his 10th at the U.S Open a sign of what was possible.

Fans have had to wait a while, but in five outings since the turn of October, Dahmen has made all five cuts, with two top-20 finishes improved upon with a bronze medal in Mexico and a place on the front page in last week’s Finau rout.

These finishes could have been even better. Going into Sunday, Dahmen was 11th at the Sanderson Farms – Mackenzie Hughes has won the RSM and in Mississippi – 8th at the Zozo, and 6th in Houston, all numbers that must see him go close here.

Hit fairways and greens and you’ll compete here, and over the past three months Dahmen ranks 10th for driving accuracy, 29th for greens-in-regulation, 20th for scrambling and 26th for putting average. With the hot favourite out, he is a genuine 20-1 shot.

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Aaron Rai - Each Way

Aaron Rai is a proven wind player. So much so, that like compatriot Tommy Fleetwood, if you back him you want it to blow, with rain another positive.

Still, he is the consummate tee-to-green player, and with every indication in last weekend’s 7th place that he is ready to match his top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines, and top-15s in Canada and at the Mayakoba.

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Aaron Rai - Top 20

The 27-year-old gives away distance off the tee but, in turn, has led the driving accuracy lists on four occasions this year, perfect if the gusts do arrive. Hopefully, that facet allows him the freedom to have one of his better weeks with his irons – he flits wildly between very good and awful – and then uses his excellent putting to do a job.

Top-12 in strokes-gained-putting at The Memorial, Irish Open, Sanderson Farms and last week in Houston, he can take encouragement from a 16th placed finish on debut last year, when he struck four almost-equal rounds of 66/67/68/68. He is 5/2 to repeat that finish.

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We are now in the land of the fantasy – or were. Now the event has opened up, I’ll take a chance with a couple of bigger prices for top-10 and top-20 finishes.

Ben Griffin - Top 20


First-season PGA Tour player Ben Griffin is just one of a host of KFT graduates that could be anything over the next few years.

The Sea Island field contains more obvious candidates in the shape of Taylor Montgomery, with three top-10s and two top 15s in just six starts as a full PGA Tour player, as well as the Davis’ – Riley and Thompson  – but the 26-year-old can oust the lot after being another to open his full top-level career with a series of impressive results.

After winning on the PGA Tour Canada in 2018, the North Carolina graduate lost his way and worked as a loan officer through 2021, still securing his PGA card via a 15th place on the Korn Ferry Tour standings.

While Griffin was making his way up the table, he finished 4th at the Wyndham, courtesy of a final round 64, before three successive missed-cuts back at the lower level.

After a further weekend off at his first full PGA event, at the Fortinet, Griffin showed much more at the Country Club of Jackson, lying in 10th at halfway before finishing a respectable 24th. He continued his run through the Shriners, when just outside of the top-30 going into Sunday, before three rounds of 65/64/66 saw him lead the Bermuda Championship.

Payday was going well until the 66th hole of the tournament, when an error on the green led to a series of mistakes that caused a 6-over back-nine.

Griffin admits he had a plan, but “got a little too comfortable”, and the episode understandably contributed to his worst performance of this brief spell – in Mexico.

However, Griffin is going nowhere, and his improved 16th in Houston last week (8th at halfway) was the sign of a player confident in his ability.

Having once had his qualifier fee paid by members of his local club, Griffin knows the value of work and whilst his overall figures are nothing more than steady, his numbers for many of the first three rounds are significantly better, even if hidden.

Ignore the missed-cut here in 2018, it seems of no relevance to this week, and look at his 18 holes played at Sea Island Plantation Course in July – a 59!

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Trey Mullinax - Each Way

Trey Mullinax is far more exposed than the likes of Griffin, but this seems a great opportunity to show up again, as he did when winning the Barbasol Championship in July.

Since his latest victory, his first since 2020, the 30-year-old has finished just outside the top-20 at St. Andrews, 5th at St. Jude, 12th at the limited-field BMW and in the top five last week in Houston.

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Trey Mullinax - Top 20

Solid in most aspects of his game, Mullinax has ranked in the top-15 for putting in ficve of his last seven outings, finding at least five strokes on the field in those, with a gain of over 10 shots last week, on the Bermuda grass of Memorial Park.

Two of his three key victories have come in 23 and 25-under the card, so we know he can go low. He is streaky but on a run, can putt on the grass he faces this week, and looks a terrific bit of value on all fronts.

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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