We’ve all been there: It’s a week before a well-deserved vacation but you’ve still got work to wrap up.
It’s the same with the PGA Tour players as they close out the calendar year (well, except for the silly season events) at this week’s RSM Classic in South Carolina.
After this week, most players will put away their clubs until the calendar hits 2023 for the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui — if they are qualified.
Before players head to Maui for the event, there is one little caveat they’ve got to have on their resume: A victory in 2022. Or — and here’s a new rule that enters into the picture — be in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings without a victory.
So if you’re playing well, Maui is calling. If you’re not, well, let’s just say this has to be your week.
The second week of 2023 is the Sony Open in Oahu and a lot of players have already made their travel plans to tee it up there.
A win this week gives the champ an extra week in paradise with the Maui event the week before.
Let’s see: A winner’s check of right around $1.3 million, a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and a trip to Maui to play for guaranteed money as there is no cut.
To say this week is full of incentives for players to win is an understatement.
So let’s find out who’s ready to spend the new year in Maui?
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Odds to Win the RSM Classic (DraftKings)
As always, shop around the sports betting industry for the best odds on your plays.
No Defending Champ to Put in the Calculations
With defending champion Talor Gooch not around to defend his title (he’s taken his game to LIV), we don’t have to put him into the picture when we’re trying to whittle down our possible picks.
This week’s overwhelming favorite, Tony Finau at +900, is coming off an impressive victory last week at the Houston Open.
Now, will his great play carry over to this week? That’s the million-dollar question — or in this case, the $1.3 million question.
We’re going to take him out of our possible winners this week for the simple reason he had almost a perfect week last week. It’s going to be tough to repeat that type of performance in back-to-back events.
Tough, but not impossible. We just like the urgency this week is going to put on other players better.
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We’re Betting on Recent Success Here
Coming in second to Gooch at last year’s RSM Classic was Mackenzie Hughes.
This week, Hughes is down the list at a tempting price of +5000.
He’s got a win in this wraparound season, so he’s already got the bags packed for Maui and that will take the pressure off.
He won the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier this fall and followed that up with a T-23 at the ZOZO Championship and a T-16 last week in Houston.
He’s third in the FedEx Cup standings and ranked 50th in the world.
We like where his game is right now and last year’s performance here shows he’s right at home on this course. Add in a final-round 62 last year that vaulted him up the leaderboard and a second win in this wraparound season certainly isn’t out of the question.
Oh, and we forgot to mention he won his first PGA Tour title right here back in 2016.
Horses for courses? We think so.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
To show everyone it’s never too late to adapt, Justin Rose made a couple of changes to his game and his play is on the rise.
He made a change in his putting style and also put a new set of customized irons into the bag.
The result: A T-9 at last week’s Houston Open and a smile returning to his face as he moves forward.
That smile might also be him remembering he wound up T-12 here last year.
He’s +4500 this week and we like that price for the simple fact there are just six of the top-40 ranked players in the world in the field.
Rose is just outside that ranking at No. 69 which is up six spots after last week’s four solid rounds.
It seems Rose has always been fighting an uphill battle. After all, the guy missed 21 cuts to start his professional career.
It didn’t deter him from going on to greatness and the fact we haven’t seen him in the winner’s circle since 2019 doesn’t mean he isn’t working hard to get his game back in shape.
Maybe all it took was the putting change and the new irons.
Stranger things have happened.
Around the Prop Scene
Just like last week’s winning bet, we’re going to step right back into the fray and look at Joel Dahmen to be in the top 10 at +350. He cashed for us last week at +400 when he wound up T-9 and he’s got top-10 finishes in his last two starts.
Let’s see if he can make it three in a row.
One other player to keep an eye on is Tyson Alexander.
We know what you’re thinking: Who?
Well, we’re right there with you but we also want to go back to the fact when you’ve got a golfer who is playing his best… bet that he might keep it up.
We’re going to take a flier on Alexander to finish in the top 20 at +750. Great money for a player who is coming off a solo second last week in Houston.
It was his best finish since turning pro in 2010. In fact, in his PGA Tour career, which has been off and on… and off again, he’s earned $1.6 million in his career. And $915,000 of that came with that finish last week.
He’s won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour, including once this season, so he can compete in the spotlight.
Now he’s on a different stage after earning a PGA Tour card with an 18th place finish in the Korn Ferry points races.
We’ll see if he takes advantage of last week’s great play and keeps the momentum going.
Also read: Longshots who can win Majors in 2023