The RSM Classic
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Playing out of the final threesome, overnight leader and World No. 84 Charles Howell III enjoyed a 3-under-par 36-31=67 in Sunday’s final round on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club to match Patrick Rodgers (62) on 19-under 263 and then defeated him in sudden death with birdie on the second playing of the par-4 18th, improving his record to 2-4 in extra time and 1-for-6 when leading/co-leading after 54 holes.
The 39-year-old, a pre-tourney 40/1 outright, bags his third PGA TOUR title in 529 events (527 pro), first since the 2007 Nissan (Genesis) Open 4,291 days ago, also in a playoff (over 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson).
Howell III, affectionately known as “Chucky 3 sticks”, wins for the first time in 333 starts, which, coincidentally, is a lot of 3’s, and while not a frequent visitor to the winner’s circle (just 0.56%), he ranks 20thin all-time earnings ($37,048,795) with 204 top 25s and 90 top 10s, and cashes a paycheck 77.5% of the time.
Overall, it’s CH3’s 28th top-3 finish, 16 of those runners-up, and his first podium since P2 at the 2017 Quicken Loans at TPC Potomac, losing in overtime to Kyle Stanley, who won with par on the first playoff hole.
With a Strength of Field rating of 100 (down from 137 last year), the Oklahoma State product banks 24 world-ranking points and jumps 23 spots to 61stin the Official World Golf Ranking – his career high is 15thafter the 2007 Shell Houston Open – and also vaults 61 places to a career-high 1stin the FedExCup standings.
With the win, the Augusta, Georgia, native reaps a host of goodies, most notably a return trip to the 2019 Masters, which will be his ninth overall but first since T19 in 2012.
Webb Simpson (65) the top-ranked OWGRer at No. 20 and the pre-tourney 9/1 fave outright, finished solo 3rd, one back, while Ryan Blaum (66) netted a career-best T4 alongside Luke List (65), two adrift.
Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):
P1- (-19, 263) Charles Howell III (40/1)
P2- (-19, 263) Patrick Rodgers (66/1)
3- (-18, 264) Webb Simpson (9/1)
4- (-17, 265) Ryan Blaum (150/1)
4- (-17, 265) Luke List (40/1)
Howell III’s Position by Round:
Howell III, who led after Rounds 1, 2 and 3, collects his first win after leading or co-leading after any of those rounds. He had been 0-for-7, 0-for-7, and 0-for-5, respectively.
Prior to this week, his last lead/co-lead was T1 after R1 of the 2017 John Deere (finished T19), and his last 54-hole lead was at the now-defunct Turning Stone Championship in New York State in 2008 (Atunyote GC).
FUN FACT: In 1,814 rounds played (thru 54 holes) and playing his 19th consecutive season on TOUR, this was the first time that CH3 had led (or co-led) after each of the first three rounds.
FUN FACT: EVERY eventual winner so far this season (8 events) has been in the Final or Penultimate Group in R3. The last (eventual) winner that WASN’T in the Final or Penultimate Group in R3 was Bryson DeChambeau at the 2018 Dell Tech Championship (11 events ago). He played out of the 13th-to-last twosome in R3 (with Tiger Woods) and shot 63 to move from T21 to T2.
Rodgers’ Position by Round:
R1: T65 (6 back)
R2: T65 (12 back)
R3: T7 (5 back)
Field Scoring Average:
This was the ninth playing of the RSM with all nine contested at Sea Island Golf Club. It was the fourth consecutive utilizing a 2-course rota with all golfers playing one round each on the par-72 Plantation (PL) Course (6,907 yards) and one round on the par-70 Seaside (SS) Course (7,005 yards). After the 36-hole cut, the final two rounds were on the Seaside Course.
Cumulative scoring averages:
Howell III: 64-64-68-67
*NOTE: No ShotLink on Plantation Course
Patrick Rodgers: Playing out of the third-to-last threesome and beginning five shots back, the World No. 172 wrapped with a day-low, bogey-free, 8-under-par 32-30=62. This after carding a week-low, bogey-free 61 in R3, which after making the cut T65 on the number, vaulted him to T7.
The Stanford alum’s 61-62=123 on the weekend is the best closing 36-hole score in TOUR history. The best-ever opening 36 holes is also 17-under 123 by Justin Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open (59-64).
The 26-year-old, who was vying for his first TOUR title in 117 events (114 pro), settles for his fifth top 3 and third runner-up, first since the 2017 John Deere (where the R1 co-leader was Howell III).
He landed 10 (of 14) fairways and pelted 17 greens in regulation, ringing up eight birdies, two from between 21 and 46 feet, adding an 85'5" bomb for birdie-2 at 12. The Indiana native gained 3.734 strokes with the flat stick in R4 after a 3.896 SG: Putting in R3. He ended the week No. 1 in birdies with 26 versus five bogeys and one double.
RSM Form: P2-MC-10-44
Season Form: P2-MC-41-14-25
OWGR: 142 (UP 30)
FEC: 13 (UP 72)
Leader/co-leaders by Round:
R1: Charles Howell III (P1): 1-for-8 as 18-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Charles Howell III (P1): 1-for-8 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R3: Charles Howell III (P1): 1-for-6 as 54-hole leader/co-leader
R4: Charles Howell III (P1): Playoff Record: 2-4
R4: Patrick Rodgers (P2): Playoff Record: 0-1
FUN FACT: Howell III is the first player this season to Miss the Cut in his start prior and then win in his next start – he MC’d last week’s Mayakoba by two after rounds of 69-71 – and the first to do so since Bryson DeChambeau at THE NORTHERN TRUST 11 events ago.
FUN FACT: Both Howell III and Rodgers entered off a MC and MC’d last year’s RSM. Not exactly a collision of form.
In 47 (non-team) events last season, a total of seven players MC in start prior and then won in their next start:
Bryson DeChambeau: The NT
Justin Thomas (WGC-BI)
Dustin Johnson (Canadian Open)
Michael Kim (John Deere)
Bubba Watson (Travelers)
Rory McIlroy (API)
Ryan Armour (Sanderson Farms)
How Howell III Won on Sunday:
After kicking off with 64-64-68, the Florida resident led by two, three and one shot, respectively.
Fairway bunkered off the 1st led to a forced layup and a 1-putt bogey-5, and then hit his tee shot at 2 into the water right. After the penalty drop (in the rough) he found the surface from 116 yards away but promptly 3-jacked from 14’8” for double bogey-6.
CH3 gained two back with back-to-back circles at 5 and 6 to turn 1-over, now T3 and one back of co-leaders Simpson and Champ.
He canned his long of the day (24’0”) for birdie-3 at 10 and missed birdie from 7’4” at 13, before reeling off three straight at 15-17. Crucially, CH3 started that hat-trick with a 2-putt birdie at the par-5 15th, which ranked as the easiest hole on the course.
“Birdieing 15, although it’s a reachable hole, you still have to do it. If I don’t do that there, then my day’s over with.” – Howell III
In total, CH3 hit 11 (of 14) fairways and 15 greens in regulation, posting 1.667 putts per GIR and 0.135 SG: Putting with 30 total putts. He birdied three of his last four, including a 17-footer at 16 and a 4’10” roll at the par-3 17th to tie clubhouse leader Rodgers, who had birdied 18 two groups ahead.
CH3 had a couple of chances to end this earlier. He missed birdie at the 72nd hole (from 22’2”), and from 14’2” on the first playoff hole, both putts grazing the edge, before dunking the winner from 15’2”, his fourth conversion of the day from between 15 and 24 feet.
Rodgers, who birdied the par-4 18th from 6’1” to post the clubhouse lead, had two birdie tries of his own in extra time, missing from 25’4” and 21’1”, respectively.
In the end, it was Howell III’s ball that would find the bottom of the cup, followed by a putter drop, double-knee bend, and both hands atop his ball cap. Then, the first person he found was his caddie Nick Jones, who he’s been with since January. It was Jones’ first career win.
“You know, golf is a brutal game and the highs of the high, it comes with a lot of really lows… I didn’t know if I would ever win one again for the obvious reasons that I had come up short so many times… yeah, the fact that I’m sitting here with this trophy, it’s still a bit of a dream.” – Howell III
This was the CH3’s 9th RSM – he’s played in all of them – and eighth cash. He records his fifth top 25, third in his last four, and fourth top 10, first since T9 three tries ago. CH3’s previous best was a back-door T6 at the inaugural edition in 2010, where he closed with bogey-free 62, and he missed the cut by two last year on 1-under 141 (71-70).
RSM Form: P1-MC-13-9-73/MDF-27-7-32-6
CH3 improves to 3-for-4 on the season with two top 25s, both doubling as top 10s (T5, CIMB).
SEASON Form: P1-MC-61-5
He’s one of just 10 players to qualify for the FEC Playoffs in all 12 editions, but has only advanced to the TOUR Championship twice, most recently in 2011. CH3’s career-best finish in the final FEC standings is 18th in 2007, the inaugural FEC season.
For the week, he tallied 25 birdies against four bogeys and one double. He ranked 1st in GIR, 2nd in Total Birdies and T4 in Birdie to Bogey Ratio. See his full stats at the bottom.
Howell III’s Career:
Starts: 529 (527 pro)
Cuts Made: 410 (77.5%)
Top 25s: 204 (38.5%)
Top 10s: 90 (17.0%)
Top 3s: 28 (5.2%)
Wins: 3 (0.56%)
2019: The RSM Classic (leader by 1)
Shot: 3-under 69
Winning Margin: PLAYOFF
Career Start: 529
Event Type: FULL FIELD
2007: Nissan Open (come from behind, 3-shot deficit)
Shot: 6-under 65
Winning Margin: PLAYOFF
Career Start: 196
Event Type: FULL FIELD
2002: Michelob Championship at Kingsmill (come from behind, 3-shot deficit)
Shot: 4-under 67
Winning Margin: 2 shots
Career Start: 68
Event Type: FULL FIELD
Wins by Season:
2001: 0 (Special Temporary Member, eventually Rookie of the Year)
2000: 0 (STM)
No traditional draw this week with the two-course rota in use the first two rounds.
Last four winners began on:
2019: Charles Howell III (began Plantation)
2018: Austin Cook (began Plantation)
2017: Mackenzie Hughes (began Seaside)
2016: Kevin Kisner (began Plantation)
As far as making the 36-hole cut, it was more advantageous to begin on the Plantation Course – for a fourth straight time – although just slightly.
A total of 78 players (77 pros, one amateur) from a field of 155 pros and one amateur made the 36-hole cut of 2-under 140:
40 (of 77); 1 WD
38 (of 77); 1 WD
10 players finished in the top 10:
4 (of 8) tourneys so far this season did have a traditional draw:
R1: 64: Charles Howell III (PL)
R3: 61: Patrick Rodgers**
R4: 62: Patrick Rodgers
*Champ shot a career-low 62, also in R2, at last week’s Mayakoba
**Rodgers career low
(Plantation = 11): Brice Garnett (65); Sean O’Hair (65); Anders Albertson (66); Wyndham Clark (66); Sam Burns (67); Graeme McDowell (68); Seth Reeves (68); Troy Merritt (68); D.A. Points (68); Lee Hodges (68)
(Seaside only): Patrick Rodgers (61); Webb Simpson (63); Luke List (63); Kevin Kisner (63); Patton Kizzire (63); Richy Werenski (63); Dru Love (64); Ryan Blaum (65); Brian Gay (65); Kyle Jones (65); Ben Silverman (65); Dominic Bozzelli (65); Austin Cook (65); David Hearn (67); Derek Fathauer (67); Lucas Glover (67); Hunter Mahan (67)
(Seaside only): Patrick Rodgers (62); Peter Uihlein (63); Chase Wright (64); Austin Cook (64); Hunter Mahan (64); Corey Conners (64); Ernie Els (64); Jonathan Byrd (65); Nick Watney (65); Richy Werenski (66); Kyle Jones (66); Anders Albertson (67)
Multiple Bogey-free Rounds (11 players):
Howell III, Rodgers, Simpson, Uihlein, Albertson, Mahan, Gay, Werenski, Jones K., Els (x2)
*Cook also recorded two bogey-free laps last year en route to victory.
Odds Favorite(s) Outright:
Dating to the beginning of the 2016-17 season (149 events), the pre-tourney fave/co-fave has won 10 times.
47 (non-team) tournaments
4 pre-tourney fave/co-faves won:
Dustin Johnson: 11/2 (Canadian Open)
Dustin Johnson: 6/1 (St. Jude)
Jon Rahm: 8/1 (CareerBuilder)
Justin Thomas: 15/2 (CJ CUP)
Webb Simpson: The Wake Forest alum (9/1) bags his fourth straight top 15 (dating to last season), including a T15 in his season debut two weeks ago at the Shriners, and his third top 6 in his last four starts.
This was his seventh RSM, fourth top 25 and third top 10, first since T7 in 2014. The 33-year-old, who WD prior to R3 last year due to his father’s illness, also owns a P2 in 2011.
Fall-Event Winners (8):
4 winners were in their 20s
3 were in their 30s
1 was in their 40s
Kevin Tway (Safeway): age 30
Marc Leishman (CIMB): age 34
Brooks Koepka (CJ CUP): age 28
Xander Schauffele (WGC-HSBC): age 25
Cameron Champ (Sanderson Farms): age 23
Bryson DeChambeau (Shriners): age 25
Matt Kuchar (Mayakoba): age 40
Charles Howell III (RSM): age 39
Updated Top 10 FEC Standings (points):
1. Charles Howell III (597)
2. Xander Schauffele (594); DOWN one
3. Kevin Tway (574); DOWN one
4. Brooks Koepka (556); DOWN one
5. Marc Leishman (545); DOWN one
6. Cameron Champ (521); UP three
7. Matt Kuchar (505); DOWN two
8. Bryson DeChambeau (500); DOWN two
9. Gary Woodland (471); DOWN two
10. Patrick Cantlay (430); DOWN two
Howell’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 78 players):
Birdies: 25 (2nd)
Bogeys: 4 (T7)
Double Bogeys: 1 (T38)
Birdie or Better: 34.72% (2nd)
Birdie to Bogey Ratio: 5.00 (T4)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.75 (T5)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.80 (T7)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.40 (T25)
Driving Accuracy: 47/56 (T12) at 83.93%
GIR: 64/72 (1st) at 88.89%
Putts per GIR: 1.688 (19th)
Total Putts: 120 (T54)
Putts by Round: 30-29-31-30
Scrambling: 4/8 (T70) at 50.00%