Welcome to the end of the beginning of the 2017-18 season. This will be the eighth and final OFFICIAL event of calendar 2017. The wrap-around season breaks after this week’s RSM Classic on Sea Island, Georgia, and will return for the Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January. This will be the eighth year running for the RSM Classic with Sea Island Golf Club acting as the host venue. In 2015, the TOUR expanded this event from 132 to 156 players. With that expansion, more daylight or another golf course needed to be added to the equation. Instead of slowing the Earth’s rotation, they took the easy way out and added the Plantation Course. Gamers will need to note that this is only the third year in-a-row with 156 players and two courses in play. TALES OF THE TAPE Kevin Kisner welcomed the addition of the Plantation Course in 2015 as he set the course record with 65. His opening round seven-under-par at Plantation set the tone for the week, but let’s not forget he closed 67-64-64 on Seaside to run away with a six-shot victory for his first win. He posted 22-under-par 260 and set the tournament scoring record. Before missing the cut last year, he only squared four bogeys plus a double in his previous eight rounds on the Golden Isles. I’ll also point out that Kisner has stated plenty of times that bermudagrass is by far his preferred playing surface. Mac Hughes (nee Mackenzie) showed up at this event for the first time last season and promptly missed the course record by a shot in his opening round. Gamers should pick up immediately that course history here is NOT a requirement. Hughes was running away with the event before he made a triple on Saturday to give the field hope. In 54 holes, his triple was the only blemish on his card as he tied the 54-hole scoring mark. His three bogeys on Sunday were his only for the week. His 19-footer for par on Monday won a five-man playoff. #Putting. The last man to win exclusively on Seaside was Robert Streb in 2014. As akin to champions before him, the big-hitting Streb posted 63 on the final day and waited out the final groups. A look back will show winners Chris Kirk closing with 66 in ’13, Tommy Gainey, 60, in ’12 and Ben Crane, 63, in ’11. Pars aren’t going to cut it this week! NOTE: Golfers inside the top 25 in each statistic on the 2016-17 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete in the RSM Classic. * – Finished inside the top 10 at the RSM Classic since 2013. Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage Rank Golfer 10 *Matt Every 11 *Camilo Villegas 14 Sam Saunders 23 Brandt Snedeker 25 *Tom Hoge Putting Average Rank Golfer 9 *Brian Harman 11 *Chris Kirk 12 David Lingmerth 14 *Graeme McDowell 15 *Camilo Villegas 17 Whee Kim 19 Zach Johnson 19 J.T. Poston 22 *Brian Gay 22 Carl Pettersson 25 Luke Donald 27 *Brian Harman 27 Danny Lee 27 *Tom Hoge Greens in Regulation Rank Golfer 1 Martin Flores 5 Ryan Armour 7 Cameron Percy 9 Robert Garrigus 12 J.J. Henry 15 Chad Campbell 18 Stewart Cink 23 Hudson Swafford 24 Jim Herman Par 4 Scoring Rank Golfer 6 *Webb Simpson 11 Stewart Cink 19 *Matt Kuchar 21 *Jamie Lovemark 22 Brandt Snedeker 25 Robert Garrigus Seaside is the more difficult of the two tracks as it plays to par 70 and barely over 7,000 yards. The par 72 Plantation Course doesn’t even tip out at 7,100 yards so scoring on that track is a requirement. The pros only get one chance to enjoy the generous fairways and four par 5s before returning to Seaside for the weekend. Plantation has ranked in the top 10 of easiest courses played on TOUR the last two seasons and was the third-easiest last year. Seaside constantly hovers around the middle of the pack, as it requires a bit of course management and decision-making off the tee. But, as shown above, it has given up plenty of low ones over time. Both tracks feature bermudagrass and receptive greens running at 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, so it’s not terribly surprising that above-par rounds and holes don’t translate here. Last season, there were only two rounds above par, both 71, on Sunday, for players finishing in the top 20. There were only five rounds of 70. In 2016, there were two rounds above par, 74 and 71, among the top-17 players. That’s it. The formula requires putts to fall when finding greens in regulation. Making pars never hurts but circling birdies will lead to victory this week. With this being the last week of the year, it’s not surprising that multiple new faces have won here. The “Sea Island Mafia” is busy hosting friends and family and winning golf might not be at the top of their list of priorities this week. Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar have but one top-10 between them in too many events to count. Pro gamers will also note that any time bushels of birdies and going low is required, the field dramatically opens up. This is not a recording but I know you’ve read this before. The field also opens up because the Web.com reshuffle will come after the conclusion of this event. This is the last chance to move up in the priority rankings and pressure can affect players differently. Tuesday’s forecast indicates that sunshine is in the cards, but it will be accompanied by a healthy seaside breeze each day. After the stop-start weather last week in Mexico, the cooler temperatures and minimal chance of rain should let these guys focus on making birdies. NOTE: The groups below are comprehensive to assist in data mining. Inclusion doesn’t imply automatic endorsement in every fantasy game as all decisions are specific to your situation. CONFIDENCE MEN Selected golfers with multiple cuts made sorted by rank on the tournament’s money list. BUILDING CONFIDENCE Sorted by best finish, selected golfers who are either finally finding form on the course or are still relatively new to the tournament but have enjoyed some success. OTHER SIGNS OF CONFIDENCE Sorted by most recent top 10s, selected golfers for whom it’s been a few years since their last.