RBC Heritage – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
7,100 yards – Par 71 – TifEagle Bermudagrass Greens
Course Architect: Pete Dye

Tournament Stimpmeter: 11 to 11.5 feet … Slower than average green speeds
Green Sizes: 3,700 sq. feet .. Smallest Green Sizes on TOUR
Strength of Field Rating: ~340 … Average Field Strength
Fairways Hit (Field Average): ~65% … Easy Fairways
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): ~57% … Very Tough Greens to Hit
Driving Distance (Field Average): 265 yards … Less-than-Driver Course

Average Temperatures: 66 degrees … Often Very Cold
Average Wind Speeds: 15 MPH … Often Very Windy

Tournament Angles

#1 Bermuda Greens
#2 Short Courses
#3 Less-than-Driver Courses
#4 Windy Rounds
#5 Hard GIR Courses
#6 Pete Dye Courses
#7 Performance in Cold Weather

Previous Winners

2016: Branden Grace -9 over Luke Donale, Russell Knox -7
2015: Jim Furyk -18 over Kevin Kisner in a playoff
2014: Matt Kuchar -11 over Luke Donald -10
2013: Graeme McDowell -9 over Webb Simpson in a playoff
2012: Carl Pettersson -14 over Zach Johnson -9
2011: Brandt Snedeker -12 over Luke Donald in a playoff
2010: Jim Furyk -13 over Brian Davis in a playoff

54-Hole Leaders

2016: Luke Donald -7
2015: Troy Merritt -14
2014: Luke Donald -8
2013: Charley Hoffman -11
2012: Carl Pettersson -12
2011: Luke Donald -11
2010: Jim Furyk -11

36-Hole Leaders

2016: Kevin Chappell, Jason Day, Charley Hoffman -6
2015: Troy Merritt -12
2014: Ben Martin, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi -5
2013: Kevin Streelman, Charley Hoffman, Steve LeBrun -6
2012: Colt Knost -9
2011: Luke Donald -10
2010: Jim Furyk, Charles Howell III, Greg Owen -7

Important Interview Quotes

Q. Overall, with the wind you’ve talked about really continuing to be that type of player, what does it say this week that you were able to navigate what was a difficult track?
I love playing in the wind. The conditions this week were extremely difficult. This course is tough. But it’s perfect for me. It’s one of my favorite courses. I expected to play well. And I’m sure glad I did. -2016

Q. Did Ernie Els have any influence over convincing you to sign up for this tournament?
You know, I have spoken to Ernie in the past about this event. And he thought it’s one that’s really going to suit my eye. It reminds me a little bit of Fancourt Links back home, because it’s linksy. You really have to see your thoughts. You have to hit a couple of different shots, not shots that you hit often.

But at the beginning of the week we actually spoke on Wednesday, we went to his house for coffee. And he told me this is one event that I’m going to win a couple of times in my career. It was nice to her from a legend like that. And obviously Ernie said, I told you you were going to win it a couple of times. So it’s nice to hear those things. -2016

Q. Harbour Town is one of the unique courses on Tour. Can you discuss your thoughts on Harbour Town?
The thing about this place is you have to stick with the kind of golf you want to play. I played very aggressive. I hit a lot of drivers off the tees and things like that, specific little drive that I like to hit. And that suits my eye hitting those shots on this golf course. To make it a little shorter than the other guys were playing. And the greens are so small. You really need to know — when you’ve got those wedges in your hand you have to attack and give yourself some opportunities, I think that’s when I did great today. I think my chipping and my wedge play was superb today. When I had to make a putt, I do just to keep yourself from making double. -2016

Q. Jason, you have a reputation as a long hitter, and this is not a course that’s not really built for long hitters. Why has this performance been good for you, the last 36 holes, one bogey?
I love this golf course. I’ve been rolling a couple of the par savers in. I feel comfortable. The greens are rolling pretty good. A couple of not so great spots, but overall the course is in great shape.

I love the golf course, I put a 2-iron in the bag and just send it down the middle of the fairway. If you can keep it in play on this golf course you’re going to give yourself an opportunity. -2016

MARK WILLIAMS: What’s so special about your round today? Obviously in the middle of the round looked like it was pretty solid.
Yeah, I’ve been driving it great all week. That’s half the battle here. Harbour Town’s greens are tiny. You’re going to miss some of the fairways, so you need to scramble well. And you have to be putting the ball around the hole. -2016

Q. Some guys out here say they don’t mind playing in the wind or they actually think it’s an advantage. What are your thoughts playing out here in the gusts?
I don’t mind it. My stats show I hit it pretty good. So the guys that hit it pretty good don’t mind wind, because usually they hit it pretty solid and it doesn’t affect it too much. If you’re playing well and striking the ball well you don’t mind. If you’re scraping it a little bit it’s harder. But it’s not easy out here for anybody. -2016

Q:Luke, three runner up finishes in this event, two third place finishes, and you’re off to another great start. What is it about this place that you love so much?

LUKE DONALD: Yeah, I do like this golf course. I think it’s one of those very classic golf courses where we just have to position it around here. It’s not obviously a bomber’s paradise. It’s a positional golf course, a classic golf course, small greens. You have to scramble well. -2016

Q. Congratulations on a great round today. As firm as the greens are and as much wind as we dealt with today didn’t you find that you had to manage your trajectory a little bit more today than ordinarily you would?
Yeah, when I think about my ball flight I hit it pretty low, that’s why a lot of people say Augusta is not really the place for me. I hit it a lot lower than a lot of guys. I probably hit it half the height as Jason hits his irons. I don’t think the wind does too much to my ball there. I just try to keep it under the tree line the whole time. As soon as you get it a little bit above the wind does anything to the ball. So I think that’s pretty much the key. -2016

Q. To follow up on that, two weeks, last year and this year, you have these two weeks. You haven’t handled the Masters challenge, but you’ve come here. What are the differences of these two weeks?
Yeah, Augusta you can actually still hit it badly and get around, make a couple of putts. I don’t think Augusta is always a ball-striker’s golf course. If your short game is up to standard you can get it going. You make a couple of putts and you can make a couple of birdies and save a couple of pars. That’s the thing with me, I’m mostly, I’m a pretty good ball-striker, but the putting gets me down every now and then. That’s the thing about Augusta. I felt really steady when I get up there but then those greens just don’t like me, I can put it that way.

I like this place. It’s completely different. It’s short and fitly. Obviously the winds do defense. And there’s a couple of shots that I’ve got up my sleeve, that I like hitting, that I grew up hitting and I think it suits — goes well with this place. -2016

Q. What is it that you love about this golf course so much?
It’s totally unique. And so different from anything we play all year. It’s so tight, with the tree lines the way they are. You step up on the tee and you know exactly what you have to do. The hole is just framed with all the trees on both the right and left side. You know the shots you have to hit. I enjoy trying to make sure I hit the proper shots in the proper part of the fairways. Even if you miss, you generally have a fun recovery shot that you can attempt to pull off. It’s a fun golf course to play. -2016

Q. What’s it like coming here after the Masters, is this a bit of a decompression for you?
It’s one of my favorite weeks. I love coming here. I golf the golf course. I stay with good friends. We know a lot of people in the area. It’s a fun week, but certainly it’s not a hit and giggle. This is a tournament that is really high on my list of tournaments to win. And was thrilled to be able to put my name on the list of champions and would like to keep it going, and playing with Davis Love, a five-time champion. I would love to have a record like him around this place. -2016

Q. As a former champion here, obviously you play well on this golf course. What’s the biggest key to have success here?
You just have to stay really patient. You have to position the ball well at times. You have to be really aware of the wind on this golf course. It’s tough to pick them out on the back nine today. There’s some really tough shots on this golf course. And you’ve just got to pick your targets and flight the ball as well as you can. Some good memories and some good visuals for me on this golf course, and it was nice to plug back into some of those and make a few birdies. -2015

Q. Do you think your success today was because of the familiarity and the success you had here two years ago?
Yeah, you know, I’ve been working really hard the last four or five weeks, especially. I’ve been grinding. Been frustrated with my game. Been trying to sort of get some good shot patterns kind of bedded in, and good to come back here and have some good memories and good visuals on this golf course. A golf course that doesn’t demand length off the tee. It demands positioning. It demands ball flight control. I did that well today. And like I said, the greens are good to me here. I enjoy them and putted well today. -2015

Q. This has to be a special place for you to play here in the state of South Carolina?
Yeah, the only event in my home state. We don’t get many home events, so to speak, on the Tour, because we’re traveling throughout the country. So anytime you have that local Clemson support and South Carolina support is good.

And I also like you have to think your way around this place. Just hitting it in the fairway sometimes isn’t necessary, you have to be on the right side of the fairway. I like courses where you’ve got to manage your way around and think your way around. -2015

Q. Wondering if you were surprised that the scores aren’t actually a little bit lower?
I haven’t seen the scoreboard. But it’s not an easy golf course. I wish we played more golf courses like it. You get out of position, you’re not going to make par. There’s no way around it. You get on the wrong side of the greens, you can’t get it up and down unless you’re holing a 20-footer. You hit it into the woods, you chip it out, there’s no gap to get you to the greens. So you have to drive it well and you have to be really precise where you miss your irons. We’ve got difficult par-3s with water around them, and swirling wind against trees, it makes it difficult. -2015

Q. And a little more specifically about your discomfort with greens on the West Coast versus the Bermuda and the stuff here?
This is just what I grew up on. Guys that are from the West Coast complain by the grain, and I don’t even look at grain here. So I just putt like I’ve always putted. And I guess that’s why I’m not very good on the poa annua, and they laugh at me out there. -2015

Q. What do you like about this golf course?
I like the small greens, which kind of puts a premium on your iron play. -2015

Q. How many drivers did you hit today?
I can’t remember. I think five, six times. -2015

Q. You went to school out here, How many times roughly do you think you’ve probably played here?
I don’t know. A few dozen. -2015

Q. You said this was your favorite event. Would you mind expanding on that. And your thoughts on Harbour Town Golf Links?
I love the golf course. I base most of my events around the golf course. It suits my game. It suits my style. I tend to either play really well here or miss the cut. And it’s because if you’re not placing the ball exactly where you want it, if you don’t have control of the golf ball here, it’s going to eat your lunch. If you do, if you put the ball in the right spots, you’re going to have short irons into the greens. You’re going to have some good looks for birdies and you can shoot some good numbers.
My game when I’m playing well, is based on really control, and hitting a lot of fairways, and I’m comfortable working the ball left to right, right to left, high, low. -2015

Q. Honda, tough golf course; Sony, a tight golf course; even going back to the Web.com, that week, you remember the courses set up pretty tough and everything. Is this a pattern that you seem to play better when courses are difficult?
Sometimes I do (laughter). I can think of a lot where I haven’t played very well.
Yeah, I grew up on a tree-lined course. I feel like I can see the shot a little bit better when there’s big trees lining the fairways. I love Hilton Head. I love playing that one.

Yeah, I think like the Sony is such a simple course, and everything is very narrow. I feel like maybe that narrows my focus a little bit. I haven’t really figured out what it is, but I do enjoy playing the tighter ones, for sure.

Quotes from ASAPsports.com unless otherwise noted.

Tournament Notes

2016: The course was shut down for a five-month period following the 2015 edition for a turf overhaul, “Greens received a fresh covering in TifEagle Bermuda, the same breed used at Harbour Town since 2001, while the rest was covered in Celebration Bermuda that thrives better in warm weather.” –Island Packet

2015: Course received two and a half inches of rain on Wednesday night and a bit more throughout the week to soften the course. Wind was also much lighter than previous editions, which is generally one of the courses main defenses. Likely a big reason why the greens were easier to hit and the scoring relative-to-par was a shot easier than it typically plays.

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