Punter’s Pointers: The PGA Tour completes its regular schedule for 2021 with the RSM Classic

The final action of the calendar year will take place at the popular Sea Island Resort in Georgia.

Just four rounds to go and then the PGA Tour will shutter itself up for the holidays.

True, there will be a couple of silly season events in December - the Hero Challenge and the QBE Shootout - but they're exercises in stuffing pockets already full of cash with more of the stuff.

The real business of careers on the line, titles worth winning and elite level pressure will be taking a break until the circuit re-emerges in Hawaii in the New Year.

The final hurrah takes place at the Sea Island Resort in Georgia and the 12th edition of the RSM Classic.

The tournament utilises two layouts, the par-70 Seaside Course hosts 54 holes and the par-72 Plantation Course just the one pre-cut round, with the former having the greatest significance in determining who lifts the title.

It's an exposed track by the sea; the ability to find fairways and greens when the wind blows matters and is revealed in the names of past winners - the likes of Heath Slocum, Ben Crane, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb.

But if it doesn't blow the course is wide open to attack, as when Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey thrashed a final round 60 to win from a final round starting point of T29th in 2012.

The field is decent, led by the World Top 25 ranked Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith.

Let's take a closer look at the chances of three men.

In his sweet spot

It's been a funny year for Webb Simpson.

The 36-year-old seven-time winner on the PGA Tour began the year with high expectations coming off a three year period of admirable consistency.

For the most part he's maintained that in 2021 and yet he also had his plans for the summer disrupted by injury which prompted a drop off in form and he's never quite rediscovered the edge which allow him to earn two victories in 2020.

What has always remained the case, however, is that the North Carolina man is gun when in a sweet spot.

This is a fellow who has made 11 of 12 cuts at Harbour Town, eight of them top 20s including a win in 2020.

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He's also made 10 off 11 cuts at Waialae with eight of those top 20s.

Sedgefield? 12 of 13 cuts made with 10 top 20s.

All three are shortish tracks that demand an accurate tee to green game, the first two are also breezy and by the sea, and all of them have Bermuda grass greens.

In other words, very much like this week's test at Sea Island and guess what? He likes this event as well.

He's completed eight tournaments, never missed the cut and has five top 20s. He also had to withdraw ahead of the weekend in 2017, when on track to land another top 20.

And he's also narrowly missed out on the win with two play-off defeats, the first in 2011 and the second two years ago.

If you narrow the focus to his results since the start of 2018 (when his career was revived), he's made 14 starts on these four favoured layouts, making 11 top seven finishes (this week's place terms), landing one win and one play-off loss.

Course specialist

Charles Howell III has never quite reached the heights that Simpson has hit.

The 42-year-old has not won a Major, never made the American Ryder Cup team, and nor has he climbed into the top 10 of the world rankings.

He also has just the three wins on the PGA Tour.

But he does share Simpson's fondness for tests like this week.

At Sea Island, he is 8-for-11 at making the cut with five top 20s (including victory in 2018).

At Waialae, he is 18-for-20 with 14 top 20s and at El Camaleon (another track very reminiscent to this week's examination) he is 11-for-13 with another eight top 20s.

His capacity to churn out the top finishes when he likes a layout is both extraordinary and well-tested down the years.

The outsider

Let's keep things simple.

Chris Kirk has proved himself at Sea Island. He won there in 2013 and has twice finished fourth, in 2014 and 2017. He's also added another three top 20s.

He understands the dynamic and a glance at his best golf since this time last year reveals that he's got a fine chance this week.

His career was given a big boost last summer with a victory on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour and the first location he landed a top 20 on the main circuit after that breakthrough? Here at Sea Island (T18th).

He then opened 2021 with second place in the Sony Open at Waialae, he was tied seventh in the Heritage at Harbour Town, and arrives here fresh off seven consecutive cuts made, a run which started with a fast start at Sedgefield and concluded with another one at El Camaleon.

Another playoff?

This is an event with a quite astounding record of needing extra holes to complete.

Six times in the 11 stagings a play-off has been required.

Will that happen again?

READ MORE: Punter's pointers at the DP World Tour Championship: Course and desert specialists to the fore

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