ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The view of St. Simons Sound from the driving range at Sea Island Resort is one of the most idyllic settings on the PGA Tour. Yet this week at the RSM Classic, tensions are high, jobs are on the line and not everyone will leave with a smile on their face.
“You don’t want to come in here worn out and grinding and trying to keep your job and not get to enjoy the islands,” World Golf Hall of Fame member Davis Love III, the tournament host, said Tuesday during a pre-tournament press conference.
The RSM Classic has a different feel this year. In the past, it has been the final tournament of the fall schedule before the Tour’s wrap-around season resumed in the first week of January, giving it a last-day-of-school feel. But the wrap-around season is no more and players outside the top 50 in the regular season have had seven tournaments in what was dubbed the FedEx Cup Fall to earn their way into the top 125. For the first time, the top 125 for the following season will be finalized at the RSM Classic.
“We’re the new Wyndham Championship,” Love III said, referring to the tournament that previously was the final opportunity for players to secure top 125 status, which gives players access to all full-field events and the Players Championship. (Numbers 126-150 will earn conditional status, unless otherwise exempt.)
Players who finished Nos. 1-50 through the FedEx Cup Playoffs locked their position in the FedEx Cup, earned full exempt status for 2024 and qualified for all eight Signature Events in 2024. All players ranked No. 51 and beyond carried FedEx Cup points and continued to accumulate points through the FedEx Cup Fall.
All 20 players from Nos. 121-140 in the FedEx Cup Fall standings entering the week are in the field. Carl Yuan, a 26-year-old native of China who finished fourth last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, heads into the RSM Classic as the ‘Bubble Boy’ at No. 125.
“It’s almost like a little mini Q-School this week for those guys,” said Eric Cole, the leading candidate for Tour Rookie of the Year who already locked up his card for next season. “Depending on where you are, being right around that 125 bubble is tough.”
Veteran pro Zach Johnson, who has played in the RSM Classic 13 times, tied for the most appearances with Chris Kirk, has sensed a different vibe at his hometown event this week.
“It is the last week for some of these guys and they’ve got to make…