Three former champions head a long list of golfers with Georgia ties in the field for this week’s RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club.
More than 25 golfers with ties to the state will be among the 156 players competing in the PGA Tour event, which is being played for the 11thtime this week. The three RSM Classic champions are former Georgia Bulldog teammates Chris Kirk (2013) and Kevin Kisner (2015) and Augusta native Charles Howell (2018).
There are 12 St. Simons Island residents in the field, along with 11 ex-Bulldogs, five former Georgia Tech golfers and four Augustans. Tournament Host Davis Love and 2020 PGA Tour winner Michael Thompson, both local residents,withdrew prior to tournament week.
Here’s a look at the Georgia golfers in this week’s RSM Classic field with their World Golf Ranking in parentheses.
Charles Howell (101): One of the most successful players in tournament history with three top 10s in addition to his playoff win two years ago. Howell ranks 20thon the career money list with more than $40 million in his 20 seasons, but his RSM victory was just his third title and first in more than a decade. Has not played especially well for the past year after enjoying his most profitable season ever in 2018-19.
Kevin Kisner (34): Like Howell, has three top-10 finishes, two of them ties for fourth, along with his runaway victory five years ago. Has been one of the most consistent PGA Tour performers the last six years, qualifying for the Tour Championship five times with three victories. Off to a slow start this season with missed cuts in both the U.S Open and Masters.
Chris Kirk (301): Was a consistently solid performer in his first eight seasons on Tour with four victories, but was sidelined by personal issues in 2019 and is playing on a medical extension. Woodstock native is still trying to regain his pre-2019 form, but shot his low score of the season (66) in the final round of his most recent start in Houston. Tied for fourth at Sea Island GC the year after his win and has two other top 20s.
Matt Kuchar (32): After qualifying for the Tour Championship nine times in 10 years, struggled through a down season in 2019-20 and things haven’t gotten any better in 2020-21. Former Georgia Tech standout and St. Simons resident missed the cut in both majors this season, and has just one top finish in all of 2020, a tie for second in February In Los Angeles. Has a T7 and five top-30 finishes in his career at Sea Island GC.
Harris English (36): After four consecutive strong seasons, suffered through three years of declining results before outstanding effort in 2019-20, ending up 12thin the FedExCup standings. Closed out the season with a runner-up finish in the Playoffs event in Boston and began this season with a T4 in the U.S. Open. South Georgia native and St. Simons resident is one of four players in the field from Georgia’s 2011 NCAA runner-up team. Has not had much success in his hometown tour stop with a T15 in first start in 2012 his best finish.
Brendon Todd (45): Has twice fought his way back from the depths of the professional golf world, most recently beginning in late 2019, when he won back-to-back tournaments and added a number of other top finishes to make it to the Tour Championship at East Lake. A teammate of Kisner and Kirk on Georgia’s ‘05 NCAA Championship squad, and like Kirk, has settled in the Athens area. His up-and-down career includes three wins and three strong seasons out of 10, and he nearly scored a third straight victory in the RSM Classic last year, leading after 54 holes before finishing fourth.
Russell Henley (58): Macon native recently posted consecutive finishes of third and fourth at Shadow Creek and Sherwood CC, and has placed in the top 30 in all four of his 2020-21 starts after a strong finish to the 2019-20 season. Has three wins in nine seasons on the Tour, and could use a top finish this week to move into the top 50 by the end of the year and earn a 2021 Masters invite. Posted three straight top 10s in the RSM from 2014-16, but no success since.
J.T. Poston (65): Scored first PGA Tour victory in 2019 in Greensboro, and got this season off to a successful start with a third place finish in Mississippi. St. Simons resident had a T14 finish in the RSM last year and is in his fifth season on the Tour.
Brian Harman (93): Savannah native has been a consistently solid performer on the PGA Tour for the past decade with two wins, a close call in the 2017 U.S. Open, and has never finished outside the top 100 in the final FedExCup standings. Has made all six cuts this season with a T13 in Las Vegas and top 30s in his last four starts. St. Simons resident has two top 10s at Sea Island GC including a T4 in 2017, and was a teammate of English and Henley on Georgia’s 2011 NCAA runner-up team.
Zach Johnson (120): Veteran has two majors among his 12 career wins in 18 seasons, and at the age of 44 is continuing a comeback after career-worst season in 2018-19. Is 5-for-5 in made cuts this season highlighted by a T8 in the U.S. Open at Oakmont, and closed 2019-20 with T7 in Greensboro to qualify for the Playoffs. St. Simons resident has two top 10s and two other top 20s in RSM Classic.
Stewart Cink (131): Like Johnson, the 47-year-old Cink is enjoying a career revival in his 40s, and currently stands third in the FedExCup standings with a win in the 2020-21 opener in Napa, Calif., and a tie for fourth in Bermuda. Victory was the seventh in his 25 seasons on the PGA and the first since his 2009 triumph in the British Open. Former Georgia Tech All-American and long time Duluth resident has a career best finish of T10 in the RSM Classic, opening with a 62 in 2016.
Sepp Straka (133): The third year PGA Tour pro, a native of Austria who attended high school in Valdosta, improved from 115 in the FedExCup standings as a rookie to 79 last season, and is currently 42ndwith a season-opening tie for 14thin Napa and fifth in his most recent start in Houston. Straka, who has made six of seven cuts, is one of three ex-Bulldogs who lives in the Athens area.
Richy Werenski (134): The fifth year PGA Tour pro from Georgia Tech scored his first victory last year at Lake Tahoe, a week after tying for third in Minnesota. He finished the year 39thon the points list, by far his best showing, but has not gotten off to a comparable start this season, aside from shooting a 61 in the second round at Sherwood CC. Tied for 15that Sea Island GC in 2018.
Henrik Norlander (154): The third season for the former Augusta State golfer was his best one, as he placed 76thin the final 2019-20 standings, the first time he retained his exempt status. Is 74ththis season with a tie for fourth in Mississippi, but hasn’t done much else. Has two wins and placed in the final top 25 in three of his in five seasons on the Web.com Tour, and lost a playoff in the RSM Classic in 2016 while a member of that tour. Teamed with Patrick Reed to lead the Jaguars to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010 and ’11.
Luke List (157): Had his best seasons in 2017 and ’18, but has not played at that level since. A tie for eighth in the Dominican Republic is his only finish of note this season. The seventh year PGA Tour pro grew up in Georgia and has returned to live in Augusta, where he placed second in the 2007 Georgia Open at Champions Retreat. Also played five seasons on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, winning in Valdosta in 2012. Tied for fourth in the 2018 RSM Classic.
Keith Mitchell (160): Scored an impressive win in the 2019 Honda Classic as a PGA Tour sophomore, but has not done much since, and has struggled since the PGA Tour resumed play in June. The former Bulldog and St. Simons resident tied for 14thin the RSM last year.
Vaughn Taylor (161): This is the 17thPGA Tour season for the Augusta native and resident, who has been hampered by a rib injury in 2020. The 44-year-old Taylor, who played his college golf at Augusta State, revived his career with a 2016 victory at Pebble Beach, where he overtook Phil Mickelson in the final round. Has two top-10 finishes at Sea Island GC the last three years.
Cameron Tringale (172): The Georgia Tech grad has ended 10 of his 12 seasons in the top 125, and has been a runner-up three times in his career. A T3 in Minnesota was his best finish last season, and he is off to solid start in 2020-21 with several respectable showings. Has five finishes in the RSM between 20thand 27th.
Hudson Swafford(180): The St. Simons resident picked up his second PGA Tour victory this season in the Dominican Republic. Has been a hit-or-miss player for most of his seven seasons, not doing much in between his 2017 victory in Palm Springs, Calif., and his recent title. Thanks to that win, is 12thon the points list. Swafford played with Harman, English and Henley on the 2011 UGA team that lost to Augusta State in the NCAA title match, and won as a rookie pro in 2012 in a Web.com event at the UGA course. Best finish in the RSM Classic is a T12 in 2014.
Scott Brown (215): In his nine seasons on the PGA Tour, the Augusta native has placed in the top 125 the last eight in succession, but has cracked the top 80 just once and his only win came in the opposite field event in Puerto Rico in 2013. Has had some success in St. Simons with a T4 in ’13 and a pair of top 20s since.
Chesson Hadley (239): After falling outside the top 125 in 2019-20, the ex-Georgia Tech golfer is off to a better start this season with a pair of top 20s, and is currently 87 in the FedEcCup standings. Has played well in four of his seven PGA Tour seasons and twice led what is now the KF Tour in earnings with four victories over those two seasons. Has not had much success at Sea Island GC.
Patton Kizzire (265): Won twice in the 2017-18 season and qualified for the Tour Championship, but St. Simons resident has been mostly invisible since. Has shown signs lately of regaining some form, tying for 11thin Houston in his last start. Sixth year PGA Tour pro’s best finish in the RSM Classic is a T15 in ‘18.
Jonathan Byrd (526): Has five career PGA Tour titles, but none since 2011 and has been a non-exempt player since ‘14. The St. Simons resident made only 11 starts in 2019-20 and four so far this season, with only one finish in the top 30. Has two top 25s in his hometown event, and shot 62 in 2017. Needed a sponsor’s invite to get into the field this year.
Davis Thompson: The only amateur in the field earned his spot by winning the 2020 Jones Cup at Ocean Forest and will be making his second start in the RSM Classic, tying for 23rdlast year. The senior on the Georgia golf team has recently ascended to the No. 1 spot in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, and nearly made the cut in the recent U.S. Open, missing by a shot after an opening 69. Is the son of RSM Classic Tournament Director Todd Thompson,who was captain of the Georgia golf team in the late 1980s and is the founder of the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour.
Michael Hebert, a Marietta resident and former Korn Ferry Tour player, and current KF member Joey Garber, a recent U. of Georgia golfer who lives on St. Simons Island, both shot 63 Monday morning at Brunswick CC to share medalist honors in the 4-spot qualifier. Josh Teater, a non-exempt PGA Tour player who lives on St. Simons Island, finished his qualifying round in the dark and shot 63 to tie for third, and survived a 4-for-2 playoff to qualify. Forsyth’s Jay McLuen, a two-time Georgia Open champion, also shot 63, but lost in the playoff.