RSM Classic final round preview: Talor Gooch in charge but Webb Simpson the value bet

Gooch holds a three-shot lead after 54 holes but has the pressure of trying to secure his first PGA Tour win in Sunday’s closer

Late in Saturday's third round at the RSM Classic, it looked as if maybe up to 10 players could be within three shots of the pace if the leaders made any late slips.

Ireland's Seamus Power did so, dropping a shot at 16 and parring the final two to finish at 13-under.

But Talor Gooch finished birdie-par-birdie-par to slip the field and build himself what could prove a decisive advantage heading into Sunday's final round.

Gooch leads by three from Power and Sebastian Munoz, with Tom Hoge back in fourth. Others in the top 10 now have five and six hole deficits to overcome.

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Let's look at the leaders and see who could be the best bet going into day four.

Talor Gooch (-16, leads by three)

Gooch is in golden position to grab his first PGA Tour victory but winning at this level is never easy and, given his lead, the pressure is all on him.

It's Gooch's to lose will be the narrative so are his stats robust enough to suggest he can get this done?

So far he ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, 7th for SG: Putting and 1st for SG: Around The Green.

The concern is that he's 131st in Driving Accuracy and hit just 6 (of 14) fairways in round three.

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Seamus Power (-13, three back)

Unlike Gooch, Power does already have a PGA Tour win having landed the Barbasol Championship in July.

He matched Gooch's 67 in round three but will be disappointed the gap went to three after he'd eagled the 15th to tie the lead.

Power is 7th for SG: Tee To Green and 2nd Around The Green but he's 29th for SG: Putting.

Perhaps the latter explains while he's only tied 20th for birdies. He's managed just six in the last two rounds (although he did add an eagle on Saturday).

If you're looking for a precedent, Power was three behind the leader after the third round when winning the Barbasol. Presumably, someone in his camp will have that info.

Sebastian Munoz (-13, three back)

The Colombian, who was third in this event two years ago, has slowed down since opening his week with a stunning 60 at the Seaside Course.

He's added rounds of 70 and 69, mixing seven birdies with four bogeys.

Munoz is 4th for SG: Approach and 7th Off The Tee but his short game isn't as sharp: 36th Around The Green and 18th Putting (lost 0.513 strokes yesterday).

Like Power, he also has a PGA Tour win, the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship.

He's been three back after 54 holes on four occasions on the PGA Tour, going on to finish 33rd, 8th, 14th and 3rd.

Tom Hoge (-12, four back)

Hoge has played the final round here four times and shot 67, 67, 66 and 68 so he's enjoyed his Sundays at Sea Island.

He doesn't have any sort of pro win since 2011 (Canadian Tour) so that has to be taken into account.

Hoge shot a bogey-free 67 on Saturday and, on the stats, he's 6th for SG: Approach, 8th Tee To Green and 21st in Putting, gaining nearly two strokes on the greens on day three.

His history from this position - four back - isn't ideal in terms of getting in the each-way payout places as he's gone on to finish 36th, 29th, 10th, 7th, 37th and 12th.

Luke List (-11, five back)

Yet another looking for that elusive first PGA Tour win, List jumped up 10 spots to tied fifth thanks to his 4-under 66 on Saturday.

List closed with a 65 here when fourth in 2018 while he was also 13th in 2016.

Looking at his stats, he ranks 2nd in Birdies, 1st for SG: Off The Tee and 2nd Tee To Green.

As usual with List, the putter is holding him back a little. He ranks 40th in SG: Putting and has missed plenty of opportunities over the first three days although he did seem to find something late on.

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The last time he started the closing round five back, List took third place in the 2017 Houston Open.

Mackenzie Hughes (-11, five back)

The Canadian won this tournament on debut in 2016 (R4 69) and is in position to do so again despite treading water somewhat with an even-par 70 on day three.

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Hughes did at least finish well on Saturday thanks to birdies at 15 and 17 and he ranks 3rd for both SG: Tee To Green and Approach.

The big problem has been his performance on the greens.

Hughes putted well on the Plantation on day one but at Sea Island (which hosts the closer), he's lost strokes with the flatstick in both rounds and ranks 66th in SG: Putting.

Scott Stallings (-11, five back)

Stallings has followed an opening 63 with two 69s.

He's the only multiple winner in the top seven although the last of his three PGA Tour titles came back in 2014.

Stallings has put himself in position to challenge thanks mainly to the putter (8th SG: Putting). His long-game stats are modest: 37th Tee To Green and 53rd Approach.

Webb Simpson (-10, six back)

The dangerman in those at -10, six back, has to be Simpson.

The former US Open champion is a two-time runner-up in this event and he's made the top three in two of his last three visits. His last three Sunday scores read 66, 67, 65.

Simpson has been slow to come to the boil this week but has worked his way through the field after laps of 69, 67 and 66.

On the stats, he's 1st for SG: Tee To Green and Approach so is striking it superbly. The negative? 44th for SG: Putting.

Conclusion

Gooch doesn't exactly have the most fearsome set of rivals trying to chase him down but he's now just 5/6 to get the win having started round three at 7/2.

With each-way terms of 1/4 1-2-3 the best bet could be Webb Simpson at 22/1.

Webb Simpson will be looking for a Sunday charge
Webb Simpson will be looking for a Sunday charge

He's making lots of birdies (rank: 3rd) moved up 22 spots to tied eighth in round three and starts Sunday just three shots back from second place.

If Gooch comes back to the field, history says Simpson could be the one to break out of the pack.

He was also 8th after 54 holes when winning the US Open so knows how to chase.

List, also at 22/1, could be worth a look as well.

READ MORE: Spotlight on Webb Simpson in the RSM Classic

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