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The final PGA Tour event of the fall is here as the RSM Classic bookends the Tournament of Champions in what has been a long, wild 2021. There will be other events — The Match between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau on Nov. 26 as well as the Hero World Challenge — but there aren't any other official events on the calendar and certainly no other opportunities for somebody to play their way into the 2022 Masters at Augusta National for a field loaded with players that are not already in it. As the year winds down, it's time to dive deep one final time.

Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.

Event information

Event: RSM Classic | Dates: Nov. 18-21
Location: Sea Island Golf Club — St. Simons Island, Georgia
Par: 70/72 | Purse: $7.2 million

Rick Gehman is joined by Sia Nejad and Greg DuCharme to preview the 2021 RSM Classic from a DFS perspective. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

Three things to know

1. Time for Scottie: I remain unconvinced that pre-tournament co-favorite, Scottie Scheffler, "needs" a PGA Tour win to validate his standing in the golf world, but I also value statistics like strokes gained (where Scheffler thrives) more highly than most. It's true that at some point in his career he does need to win, and that will be a theme at any tournament he plays where he's among the favorites (like this one) until it actually happens. His numbers remain superb. He's coming off a T2 last week at the Houston Open and boasts the third-highest 12-month strokes gained number in this field (only Cam Smith and Louis Oosthuizen are better). It will be intriguing to see if he pulls a Patrick Cantlay and wins a big bunch of tournaments in a short amount of time to "course correct" his winning trajectory on the PGA Tour or if he takes more of a Tony Finau route where you can't believe he doesn't win more. Regardless, he's one of the mega-talents in this field and is one of the primary draws for me no matter how it goes.

2. What's ahead for Webb: Webb Simpson's 50-round rolling strokes gained average is hovering right around a top 25 mark for the first time in three years. Since fall 2018 he's been well above that top 25 mark, and for much of that he was in or just outside of a top 10 mark. And while he's certainly not playing bad golf, he hasn't maintained the highest level consistency he had for almost all of 2019 and 2020. This year could also go down as his first since 2010 to not finish in the top three at any event. The margins are tiny, though, and he's still finishing in the top 20 in plenty of tournaments and hitting the ball quite well, even despite battling through some injuries. It would not take a ton for him to get back to playing at a two-strokes-gained-per-round clip like he was in 2019 and 2020 and contending for more trophies, and it's a testament to how elite he's been for the past few years that playing at a top 25 clip represents a decline in his performance. This is a good place for him to get back into true weekend contention again given his ridiculous record here over the last three years (second in 2019, third in 2018).

3. Playoffs?! Four of the last five RSM Classics have gone to a playoff, including an all-timer in 2016 when Mackenzie Hughes defeated a foursome of Blayne Barber, Billy Horschel, Henrik Norlander and Camilo Villegas on a Monday. The last three have all been 19-under playoffs between two golfers (including Simpson in 2019). These are difficult courses to separate yourself on, which leads to bunched-up boards and lots of guys duking it out at the top. It makes sense that a lot of playoffs happen at an event like this one, and it's a tournament that has in recent years come to be defined by it a little bit.

Grading the field

Given the time of year, this is a pretty good field. In addition to Scheffler and Simpson, it includes Louis Oosthuizen, Cam Smith, Harris English, Corey Conners, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Max Homa. So while there are plenty of golfers fighting for FedEx Cup points and a chance to get into next year's Masters, there's also some real weight at the top here that is slightly atypical for a mid-November event. Grade: B

2021 RSM Classic picks

Winner (28-1): Henley was great last week in Houston and is a top-five ball-striker in this field over his last 20 rounds of play. I like that driving distance is not a huge factor here, and I love that he's been No. 2 in the field in approach play over his last 20 rounds behind only Tom Hoge. Even better here if there's some weather that blows in. I don't necessarily want this event to turn into a putting contest with Henley involved, but I do want it to turn into a "the wind is howling, and the best full-time hitter is going to rise to the top" contest.
Top 10 (16-1 to win): I noted this above, but Simpson's numbers are super interesting. No top-three finished so far in 2021 but one of the best top-20 percentages of his career. He's legitimately a stroke per round from contending really often, and I think a bit of a lesser field will be a nice reprieve for him on a course he clearly loves.
Sleeper (66-1): Vegas is the third-best ball-striker in this field over his last 20 rounds, and he's putting it horribly. That's a good combination for a sleeper. If he putts to the field average last week in Houston, he contends to win the tournament, which is always going to be attractive to me going into the following week. Also, his number is pretty long. I would have expected something more in the 50-1 range than the 66-1 that he's at.

Who will win the RSM Classic, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and best bets, all from the model that's nailed seven golf majors and is up almost $10,000 since the restart.