After years and years of supporting the Spaniard, I had finally lost hope (at Augusta National, at least). I took him off my target list last week and BAM the magic happens. We can chalk this one up as a win for current form (striping it off the tee recently) and also a win for narrative street (good place in his life/engagement swag/Seve swag). As for his recent course-history track record, he had finished outside the top 30 in 9 of his last 12 visits to Augusta National and it was presumed he’d officially talked himself out of ever winning there. WRONG. On the bright side, I got to see one of my top 5 favorite golfers finally win a major.
Back to the grind, let’s turn our attention to Harbour Town Golf Links for the RBC Heritage in South Carolina. If you look at Hilton Head Island on a map, it’s easy to see why this place is usually one of the windiest places on TOUR. However, the forecast currently looks pretty calm so we don’t need to worry about that too much this week, unless the forecast changes drastically.
The Pete Dye Design on tap this week is a par 71 that plays right around 7,100 yards, pretty short by PGA TOUR standards. The first thing that pops out is the field average driving distance here. There aren’t any holes where the field averages over 280 yards. It is very much a LESS-THAN-DRIVER COURSE. Part of that is due to the tree-lined nature of the course, forcing you to position yourself rather than bomb-and-gouge. Also, the type of golfers that put this on their schedule are typically on the shorter side since the course doesn’t favor distance in any way.
The next thing that is notable is the difficulty of the greens. They are the smallest average green sizes on TOUR. You will still be missing quite a few greens here. In fact, 11 of the holes average less than 60% GIR, six of them average less than 50% GIR. You better be locked in with your irons or really know how to scramble.
Two of the three par 5s are reachable by the entire field (given they don’t lock themselves out off the tee), again proving that distance is not a big advantage around here.
Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for more tournament history, quotes, and tournament angles.
For correlated events I am looking at the Wyndham Championship, the RSM Classic, Valspar Championship, THE PLAYERS, and Colonial.
Players to Watch
Tyrrell Hatton… After a complete dud in round one last week, Hatton was packing his bags early in his Masters debut. I can’t ignore his stretch of amazing form before that, so I am jumping right back on the train. He’s basically the class of the field in terms of play over the last six months, so I will take a long look this week. At the same time, if he starts to become the chalk, I will be ready to jump ship since his potential short-game concerns here could lead to a repeat of last week.
Wesley Bryan… If I was searching for the perfect course to fit Wes Bryan, it’d probably look a lot like Harbour Town. He’s not going to over power a golf course so this layout falls right into his lap as he can bombard the flag sticks with his stellar iron play and then use his strong putter to save himself from the big numbers. He also lines for a great R1-2 FanDuel play because weekends have not been his friend on the PGA TOUR so far.
Team RBC… Some golfers just show up here because of a sponsor commitment. Check out the full lineup of RBC golfers to see who may be just going through the motions. Brandt Snedeker is a good example. He won this event back in 2011 so he’s not going to shy away from contention if his game is clicking. All of his 10 other visits have been outside the top 10, though, with seven of them being outside the top 40. They also mentioned a nagging wrist injury during the Masters broadcast. Probably someone I would avoid this week.
Jason Dufner… I’m not really sure what’s gotten into Dufner this year. His game is clicking on all cylinders and I do mean ALL. Usually horrendous with the flat stick, I keep waiting for his putting numbers to regress but he keeps knocking em in. His balanced attack should play quite nicely at Harbour Town and his typical weakness (distance) won’t be much of a factor.
Luke List… Given his reputation as a bomber only, this might be a contrarian view but I do think List can contend here at Harbour Town GL. His only weakness is his flat stick and with tiny greens on deck, perhaps that can get muted a bit this week. Much like Jason Kokrak, List should be able to lean heavily on his 2- or 3-iron this week and still hang with the shorter guys who will be hitting drivers.
Pat Perez… Two of the past eight Heritage winners have also won the OHL Classic (G-Mac and Gay). It just missed out on being one of my top 5 correlated events, but it could be an interesting angle to look at although part of that is tied to windy conditions which doesn’t look to be a big factor, as I write this. Pat Perez hoisted the trophy down in Mexico this year while John Huh and Charley Hoffman also have an OHL Classic trophy to their name.
LUKE DONALD… I’ve found myself slowly drifting from course history recently, but Luke Donald is someone I can’t overlook. He’s posted six podium finishes here in 11 starts, although he’s never actually won here. His comfort level here alone makes him a top 25 option.
Aaron Baddeeley… Not quite as consistent at this venue when you compare him to Donald. However, Badds has historically been the best birdie maker here at Harbour Town Golf Links. A good high risk, high reward option on DraftKings.
Bryson DeChambeau… Love the way he’s trending and he finished T4 here last year in his debut. He will make some of my squads this week, but he just narrowly misses out on my top 25 rankings because of his long-term inconsistencies.
Shane Lowry … After a second-round meltdown last week, Lowry is looking to rebound on a course he’s never seen. Tee-to-green wise, he’s one of the best in the field, but his short game can turn birdies into bogeys and pars in doubles. Some of the best upside in the field, but not someone I can fully trust.
Webb Simpson… Has a close call here (runner-up in 2013) and also has the Carolina Factor in his favor. He always looks lost on the greens but his off-the-tee stats have recently seen a slide as well. I could see him throwing himself into the mix this week but can’t see him actually sealing the deal.
My Top 25 for the 2017 RBC Heritage
1. Matt Kuchar
2. Jason Dufner
3. Kevin Kisner
4. Adam Hadwin
5. Charley Hoffman
6. Tyrrell Hatton
7. Bill Haas
8. Francesco Molinari
9. Russell Henley
10. Luke List
11. Billy Horschel
12. Luke Donald
13. Martin Kaymer
14. Jason Kokrak
15. Branden Grace
16. Graeme McDowell
17. Wesley Bryan
18. Jim Furyk
19. Marc Leishman
20. Pat Perez
21. Shane Lowry
22. Webb Simpson
23. Charles Howell III
24. Kevin Na
25. Keegan Bradley