By Obie Kahne
Well, that was fun.
Dustin Johnson finally got a green jacket, Bryson Dechambeau showed he is the most volatile golfer in the game by making the cut on the number and finishing a stroke behind Bernhard Langer (whose drives averaged 260 yards), and Tiger Woods made virtually all of us golf pundits look like idiots (again) on 71 holes, but few people noticed due to the 10 on his Sunday scorecard (with a par he would have finished T13 instead of a disappointing T38).
Not only did DJ win The Masters by the largest margin since Tiger Woods won by 12 strokes in 1997, he also improved the four round record shared by Woods and Jordan Spieth by two strokes. In the process he returned +150% to his investors meaning that a recurring $10 investment in DJ started 3.5 months ago at the WGC FedEx would now be worth $13,120 for a total ROI of +13,110%.
Another way to turn $10 into $13,000 would have been to buy four shares of Amazon on August 1st, 1997, HODL through the dot-com bubble and the great recession, and finally sell them right now for around $3,135 each. But hey, it’s your money, I’m just the golf stats guy.
The Tour will put forth an impressive 156 man field this week at the RSM Classic thanks, in part, to keeping it local in Georgia at the Sea Island Resort. Since the field is huge and the days are short, players will be split between two different courses on Thursday and Friday such that they will play each course once. The Seaside Course, where the tournament will continue for the weekend, is a fairly standard 7,000-yard par-70 while the Plantation Course is a relatively short par-72 clocking in at 7,060 yards. The average winning score over the last five years is -19.6 so low scores are a prerequisite to a good finish and, unlike last week, there will be plenty of players who shoot four rounds in the 60s.
Massive fields provide massive opportunities for profit along with increased risk due to missed cuts. It is easy to get lost so let’s take a deeper look at the field and see who looks like they will outperform their IPO pricing:
At $10.80, an investment in Simpson is a bet that he will finish in the top-10. That feels likely given that Simpson lost to Tyler Duncan in a playoff last year and finished 3rd the year before that. He also has top-10 finishes in the Masters and the U.S. Open which featured stronger fields and courses that did not suit his game nearly as well. When you combine his current form, his history at Sea Island, and the top-heavy payout structure of our PGA Market, Simpson is a good bet this week.
Whenever Webb Simpson plays well, it seems like Harris English is at the top of the leaderboard too. An incredibly well-rounded player, English is in the top-50 of the four major strokes gained categories and he has two top-10s in four appearances this year. On top of all that, he practices at Sea Island when he isn’t touring which is a rare advantage to have.
Kevin Kisner is another player with an impressive history at Sea Island, but there is a catch. He has three top-10s in the last five years, but he missed the cut last year and in 2016, as well as at the Masters last week. The RSM provides a great opportunity for a bounce back performance, which I think he will have, but his top-10 price tag doesn’t reflect the downside of a missed cut, making him a risky play in the largest field of the year.
$4.47 per share implies a breakeven rank of 38th, making Muñoz the best investment of the week. He finished 3rd at last year’s RSM and his only finish outside of the top-30 this year was at the U.S. Open where he made the cut at +5 but fell apart over the weekend. After a strong top-20 finish at Augusta, expect Muñoz to continue his great form at Sea Island.
Like Harris English, J.T. Poston (4.43), Brian Harman ($5.57), Zach Johnson ($5.58), and Matt Kuchar ($5.52) all spend their off weeks training at Sea Island, giving them a unique advantage over the field. Poston’s lower price gives him the largest upside of the group, and all four are solid investments with little downside risk.
Henrik Norlander has two top-5 finishes at the RSM (T5 in 2019, T2 in 2016) and a streak to rival Dustin Johnson’s this year. $10 reinvested in Norlander between the Travelers Championship in June and the 3M open at the end of July would have netted $3,672 for +3,672% ROI. His poor performance of late has seen Norlander slip down our rankings, making him a very attractive investment at $3.90.
A proven investment, Malnati has returned +150% or more to his investors in five of his six appearances this season. He also has a propensity to shoot (extremely) low scores which is important as nobody has won the RSM Classic without a 64 or better on their card in the last five years. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I ignored the fact that he has missed the last four cuts in this event but let everyone else harp on that while you scoop some shares in one of the best putters on tour for less than $3.00.
Here are some more players in the $3.00 and under range to keep an eye on:
Kristoffer Ventura ($2.80) had two top-7 finishes in his first three events this year but he has cooled off since. I don’t see him hanging around this $3.00 price point for too much longer so get in while you can!
Aaron Wise ($2.48) had his best performance of the year at the Houston Open and for $2.48 he is a great candidate to make the cut and turn a profit.
Hudson Swafford ($2.30) is another tour pro who calls Sea Island home and he already has a win this year at the Corales Puntacana Championship. Keith Mitchell ($2.32) and Patton Kizzire ($2.22) round out the group of Sea Island Touring Professionals
David Hearn ($1.94) has not finished outside of the top-20 in three appearances at the RSM Classic. At $1.94 his breakeven rank is 65.9. You do the math.
Doug Ghim ($1.61) has generated +200% ROI or better in three of four appearances this season and he is in the field as an alternate making him a great undercover investment.
With holiday breaks coming up for the PGA Tour, this is one of the last chances to build your bankroll for the new year or for the NFL Markets that will be live all December. Make it count!