By TOM LaMARRE
The PGA Tour plays its final official event of 2023 this week, with The RSM Classic being contested for the 14th time beginning Thursday on the Seaside and Plantation Courses at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.
The is the seventh and final tournament in the PGA Tour’s inaugural Fall Series and is hosted by Davis Love III, who also is in the field.
Adam Svensson of Canada (pictured) will be back to defend his title after he sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to break out of a four-way tie for the lead and added a 10-footer for birdie at No. 17 to eventually claim a two-stroke victory over Brian Harman, Sahith Theegala and Callum Tarren of England.
“To be honest, it doesn’t even feel real right now,” said Svensson, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory after winning three times on the Korn Ferry Tour. “I’m so happy. I put so much work in. To win on the PGA Tour means everything to be me. … I just kept believing in myself, and here I am.
“I relied mostly on talent when I was younger. I didn’t put enough work in, I wasn’t that disciplined. Two years ago I decided to give it 100 percent and I’ve been super disciplined on and off the course. You know, I don’t drink anymore, I go to the golf course every day, I’m up at 6 a.m., I give it 100 percent now. That’s the reason.
“I changed my putting stroke a little bit on Friday and then it was feeling really good. I just kind of stuck with it.”
Other former winners of The RSM Classic in the field include Chris Kirk (2013), Kevin Kisner (2015) and Mackenzie Hughes (2016).
There are two unofficial PGA Tour events left on the schedule this year, the Hero World Challenge that is hosted by Tiger Woods on the Albany Golf Course in New Providence, The Bahamas, starting on Nov. 30, and the Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., which begins on Dec. 8.
The 2024 PGA Tour season will start, as usual, with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, which will start on Jan. 4, followed by the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, which will begin on Jan. 11.
1. Brian Harman, United States – The left-hander tied for second behind Adam Svensson last year in The RSM Classic and also tied for fourth in 2017. Harman claimed his first major title by six strokes in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in England last July for his third PGA Tour victory, and he has 12 finishes in the top 25 over the last year, including second three times.
2. Ludvig Aberg, Sweden – The 24-year-old Swede is in the running for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, as he lost to Luke List in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship among 11 top-25 results over the last year, including a victory in the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour. Aberg shot 72-70—142 and missed the cut by four shots in the RSM last season.
3. Adam Svensson, Canada –The defending champion in the RSM Classic shot 64-62-64 over the last three rounds last year to claim his first PGA Tour victory by two strokes over three players. That came after he missed the cut three straight times in the event. Svensson, who has won four titles as a professional, has recorded 10 finishes in the top 25 over the last year.
4. Cameron Young, United States – A four-time winner as a pro, twice on the Korn Ferry Tour but not yet on the PGA Tour, Young has recorded 10 results in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for seventh in the Masters and a tie for eighth in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. He opened with 65 in The RSM Classic last year and closed with 67, but tied for 29th.
5. Alex Noren, Sweden – Has won 11 times as a pro, but not yet on the PGA Tour after finishing second to Camilo Villegas last week in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Noren has eight finishes in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for third in the Shriners and a tie for fourth in the Houston Open. He tied for 10th in the 2019 RSM Classic and tied for 18th in 2020.
6. Russell Henley, United States – Claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory in the World Wide Technology Championship a year ago by tying the tournament record of 23-under-par, but for some reason did not defend his title two weeks ago. Henley has 12 results in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for fourth in the Masters. Has three top-10 finishes in the RSM Classic.
7. Si Woo Kim, South Korea – With birdies on the last two holes, Kim earned his fourth PGA Tour victory and fifth as a pro early this year in the Sony Open in Hawaii. That is one of his 10 finishes in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for second in the AT&T Byron Nelson and fourth in the Memorial Tournament. His best result in RSM Classic was a tie for 18th in 2015.
8. Matti Schmid, Germany – The 2021 Rookie of the Year on the DP World Tour, who won the European Amateur twice, was third in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last week, one of his 10 finishes in the top 25 on both major tours in the last year. Schmid also was second in the Andalucia Masters and fourth in the SA Open. Missed the cut in only RSM Classic start last year.
9. J.T. Poston, United States – Winner of the 2019 Wyndham Championship and the 2022 John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour, Poston has recorded 12 finishes in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for second in the 3M Open, a tie for third in the Shriners and three ties for sixth. His best result in six starts in The RSM Classic was a tie for 14th in 2019, when he closed 68-66.
10. Camilo Villegas, Colombia – The 41-year-old Villegas tied for second in the World Wide Technology Championship two weeks ago and captured the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last Sunday in Southampton, Bermuda. It was his fifth PGA Tour victory, but first since the 2014 Wyndham Championship. He tied for second in 2016 RSM Classic and tied for sixth in 2020.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Justin Suh, United States; Eric Cole, United States; Taylor Pendrith, Canada; J.J. Spaun, United States; Corey Conners, Canada; Akshay Bhatia, United States; Ryan Palmer, United States; Matt Kuchar, United States; Stephan Jaeger, Germany; Brendon Todd, United States; Stewart Cink, United States.
1. Callum Terren, England – Winner of the 2017 Jiangsu Open in China finished T-2 in the 2022 RSM Classic with four rounds in the 60s, and also was T-7 in Fortinet Championship.
2. M.J. Daffue, South Africa – Winner of NeSmith Chevrolet Championship at home, Daffue also tied for ninth in Alfred Dunhill Championship. Had seven top-10s on 2022 Korn Ferry Tour.
3. Vince Whaley, United States – Whaley is coming off a T-8 in Bermuda after a T-7 there last year, and also was solo fifth in the Barbasol. Opened with 65 but was T-63 in RSM last year.
4. Dylan Wu, United States – Winner of the 2021 Price Cutter Charity Championship on Korn Ferry Tour was T-5 in the 3M Open, T-10 in Honda Classic and T-14 in Fortinet Championship.
5. Maverick McNealy, United States – The former Stanford star had six top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour in the last year, and in 2022 he was second in the Fortinet and T-7 in the Genesis.
For first-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard