ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Georgia – 31522 is 0 for a decade in the friendly confines of the Sea Island Golf Club, but the impressive group of professional locals who call this slice of the Georgia coast home will have yet another chance to get on board the RSM Classic.
This year, it was Zach Johnson who carried the island flag after a 65 third round on Saturday that left him tied for second place at 14 under par and three shots from the head.
“There have been instances where they have played well,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. I mean, aside from the basic facts, numbers, I mean, there are 132 to 152 men on the pitch so the odds are stacked against you.
The odds don’t look great for Johnson on Sunday with 2014 champion Robert Streb posting a perfectly round Robert Streb, a 67 without a bogey, another windswept day on the Seaside Course for an imposing lead. But given Johnson’s familiarity with the layout, he was confident.
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The inhabitants are always confident and understandable. The list of Islanders includes two-time Major Champion Johnson, plus Matt Kuchar, Harris English, Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire. Oh, and the host of the Davis Love III tournament – or as the locals call him, “Uncle Davis”.
“Based on the amount of talent that lives here, based on the CVs that live here and having that knowledge of the course, it’s a little surprising. I find it a little weird [that a local hasn’t won the RSM Classic]Johnson said.
There have been a lot of close calls since the event started in 2010. Chris Kirk had been a local for a few years, but when he won the event in 2013 he had already moved to the Atlanta area. . Kevin Kisner also spent time on the island while his house was being built, but it was long gone when he won his RSM Classic title in 15.
There are external chances. Kizzire is 11 under after struggling on Saturday, and he went low on the Seaside Course before including a third round 63 in 19, and Kuchar is another shot back. But if this is to be the year a local finally wins the RSM Classic, it looks like Johnson is the better bet.
“I don’t like the wind,” smiled Johnson when asked about Sunday’s predictions.
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He’s finished in the top 10 twice at Sea Island, in 2018 and 2019, and given the windswept conditions this week, Sunday’s final favors a grinder like Johnson. But he also had a decade to overcome all the pitfalls.
“Maybe it’s pressure, maybe it’s just, you know, overconfidence, maybe it’s just expectations. I hate the expectations when it comes to dashboards, it drives me crazy. I’m falling in, ”Johnson said. “When my game is good and I feel like I should shoot 60-nothing and I don’t, it drives me crazy. I try to eliminate that kind of expectation and really hang on to the expectation of the orders and that’s what I’ve done so far.
For residents of Île Saint-Simons, expectations are still high despite a decade of disappointment, but Johnson hopes to change that narrative once and for all.