Last chance: RSM Classic wraps up PGA's fall schedule
Posted on: 15 Nov, 2023 at 07:28 PM
Credit: Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK
The RSM Classic, which begins Thursday at Sea Island Resort in St. Simons Island, Ga., carries new weight this year as the final event of the inaugural FedEx Cup Fall series.
The tournament marks the last chance for players to improve their status on the PGA Tour for the 2024 season.
For some, that means trying to slide into the top 60 of the standings to qualify for two signature events this winter -- the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational. Sam Ryder enters the week at No. 60, a mere 11 points ahead of Mark Hubbard; Sweden's Alex Noren, the runner-up at last week's Butterfield Bermuda Championship, is lurking at No. 64.
The more crucial split happens further down the list. Finishing inside the top 125 after this week means players earn or retain full-time PGA Tour cards. Nos. 126-150 will have conditional PGA Tour status and full status on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The final five inside the top 125 entering the RSM Classic are Doug Ghim, Colombia's Nico Echavarria, Troy Merritt, Andrew Novak and China's Carl Yuan. Those on the outside trying to play their way in include Henrik Norlander of Sweden (No. 126), Maverick McNealy (No. 127), Patton Kizzire (No. 130) and former major winner Jimmy Walker (No. 139).
Kizzire is one of several players in the field who have a home-course advantage, thanks to taking up residence in Sea Island, Ga.
"I'm not protecting anything, I don't feel like I'm trying not to screw up. I've got to go out there and make it happen," Kizzire said. "But win, lose or draw, my family's here. It's going to be a battle, but at the end of the day my kids will be there, my whole family will be here, so I'm looking forward to that."
Two courses at Sea Island Resort host the event. Players play one round apiece at the par-70 Seaside course and the par-72 Plantation course before the Seaside course hosts the third and fourth rounds.
The defending champion is Canada's Adam Svensson, who went 62-64 on the weekend to finish at 19 under for his first career victory.
"I shot I think 1 over the first round so I was kind of a little bit out of it," Svensson recalled. "Then the last three rounds I just kind of played some unbelievable golf."
Tied for second two shots behind was St. Simons resident Brian Harman, whose career has taken off in 2023. He won The Open Championship, played in the Ryder Cup and is the highest-ranked player in the field this week at No. 9 in the world. Harman hasn't competed since the Ryder Cup and said his game was "TBD" at the moment.
"Been taking advantage of this offseason, trying to rest up and heal up and trying to get a little stronger in the gym, trying to grab that little bit of improvement where I can," he said.
The hottest player in the field is surely Camilo Villegas of Colombia, who's a testament to how the FedEx Cup Fall series can change a player's fortunes.
Villegas stood at No. 223 when he played the World Wide Technology Championship two weeks ago on a sponsor exemption. He tied for second there, won in Bermuda last week and rocketed to safe harbor at No. 75.
"I'm very thankful for all those tournament directors that understand my situation, that know how much I want to be out here and then that provide me opportunities to play when I'm not in the fields," Villegas said.
--Field Level Media