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RSM Classic concludes autumn portion of 2017-18 slate

From FOX Sports - November 13, 2017

The year is winding down, but for the PGA Tour, the RSM Classic this week is only the end of the beginning.

The RSM on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga., is the seventh and final tournament of the fall portion of the 2017-18 schedule. It follows stops in California, Malaysia, South Korea, Mississippi, China, Las Vegas and Mexico.

There will be a six-week offseason before the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii on the first week of January, which for years was the traditional start to the season.

When the PGA Tour introduced the wraparound schedule in 2013-14, many of the top players in the world didnt bother to play in any of the early events, but times have changed.

(In past years), Ive felt like it has gotten to January or early February and Im way too far behind on the FedExCup list, and from there it is an uphill battle, said Australian Marc Leishman, who got his season off to a strong start with a runner-up finish in the CJ CupNine Bridges in South Korea last month, losing in a playoff to Justin Thomas.

Weve still done OK, made the playoffs every year, but if you want to be up with the elite I think you need a big start.

Last season, Thomas claimed his second career victory by repeating in the CIMB Classic, but he was only getting started.

Thomas started the new year by winning the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua after opening with a 59. He went on to win five times overall, including the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

When Thomas finished second in the Tour Championship, he claimed the FedExCup and locked up the Player of the Year Award.

I felt like after (winning early), I learned a lot to where I could kind of ride that momentum out for the year, said Thomas, who started his new season by winning the CJ CupNine Bridges and is taking a break before defending his title in Hawaii.

It was similar for Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who claimed his third PGA Tour victory in the 2016 WGC-HSBC Champions in China during the early portion of the season. He then added the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Matsuyama led the FedExCup standings for much of the season before fading at the finish and wound up eighth in the standings.

Not only the young guns have used the Fall events to kick-start a big season.

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