Staying in Georgia

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Everyone on the PGA Tour will be giving plenty of thanks for a break at Thanksgiving after this week’s stop at the RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, GA.

The reason: After this event, the Tour finally takes next week off. It will be the first time there hasn’t been an event played since the Charles Schwab Challenge back in mid-June. That’s 24 weeks, but who’s counting?

For those of you keeping track at home, let’s look at a few of the numbers before we take some well-deserved time off.

In that 24-week time span we’ve had 17 different tournament winners. But in a lot of instances the cream definitely rose to the top. There were four multiple winners — Dustin Johnson with four wins, including last week’s Masters along with Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa picking up two each.

We’ve also welcomed some old-timers back into the winner’s circle in Stewart Cink (first win since 2009 Open Championship for the 47-year-old) and Brian Gay (first win since 2013 for the 48-year-old). Add in a couple of first-time winners in Carlos Ortiz and Tyler Duncan and you’ve got a nice mix. By the way, Duncan’s win came right here one year ago.

So we’ve seen a lot. And now we get to see who steps up this week before that well-deserved break.

That’s the good news. The bad news is some of the top-ranked players are getting a head start on that time off, passing up this week and putting their playing time on hold until 2020. There is one more Tour event, the Mayakoba Classic the week of Dec. 3-6, but most big names won’t be around. Many will work on their games at home and get set for the start of a new year (finally) at the Tournament of Champions in Maui the first week of January.

But that’s O.K., there are still a boatload of quality players in the field this week to pique our betting interest.

There are 17 players ranked in the top 50 teeing it up this week. Guys like Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and others will be giving this event the best field since its debut in 2010. But we’re going way down the list for our top pick with an oldie but a goodie.

We are starting with a long shot in Charles Howell III at 80-1. He has only won three times in his 20-year PGA Tour career, but we’re here to let you know we’ve done a deep dive before coming up with this pick.

First, he won here two years ago and that snapped a winless drought that stretched back a startling 12 years. To say he’s had a roller coaster ride on his visits here would be an understatement. Four years ago, there was a T-13 at this event. That was followed up by a missed cut the next year. He then posted that win in 2018. Last year he again missed the cut.

See where we’re going here? Like the rest of his career, it’s hit or miss. But when you’ve got three PGA Tour wins and more than $40 million in career earnings, there’s always a chance.

But it’s impossible not to put Simpson, the favorite at 10-1, high on the list. The reasoning is simple and it will have everyone likely jumping on his bandwagon. He’s got nowhere else to go but to the top in this event.

Consider the fact that four years ago he had a T-36 here. The following year, he withdrew when his father fell ill. He was in the hunt with rounds of 67 and 68 before pulling out to tend to the family matters. The next year he wound up third and last year lost in the playoff for the title and finished second. Another pattern we love.

He’s also coming off four straight top 20s in this wraparound portion of the season— T-8, T-13, T-17 and then T-10 at the Masters — so the form is there. Good form and good memories are an ideal recipe for Howell and Simpson to both be in the hunt come Sunday.

About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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