RBC Heritage – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
7,100 yards – Par 71 – TifEagle Bermudagrass Greens
Fairways and Rough: Celebration Bermuda
Course Architect: Pete Dye (1969)
Bunkers: 54
Water Hazards: 12

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

Average Temperatures: 71 degrees … Colder than Average
Average Wind Speeds: 13 MPH … Often Very Windy

Tournament Angles

Bermuda Greens
Less-than-Driver Courses
Windy Rounds
Hard GIR Courses
Coastal Courses
Pete Dye Courses
Performance on Hard Courses
Easy-to-Hit Fairways
Performance in the Spring
Performance in Cold Weather
Short Courses

Previous Winners

2018: Satoshi Kodaira -12 over Si Woo Kim in a playoff
2017: Wesley Bryan -13 over Luke Donald -12
2016: Branden Grace -9 over Luke Donald, 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

2018: Ian Poulter -13
2017: Jason Dufner -13
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

2018: Bryson DeChambeau -10
2017: Graham DeLaet, Luke Donald -10
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

First-Round Leaders

2018: Rory Sabbatini -7
2017: Bud Cauley -8
2016: Luke Donald, Branden Grace -5
2015: Matt Every, Graeme McDowell -5
2014: Matt Kuchar, Scott Langley, William McGirt -5
2013: Brian Davis -6
2012: Chad Campbell, Colt Knost, Vaughn Taylor -4
2011: Garrett Willis -7
2010: K.J. Choi -7

Important Interview Quotes

Q. Just talk about that back nine. I know you had a great run in the front nine. Did the nerves kind of kick in on the back nine?
Rather than it being nerves, I think with the weather it kind of slowed the greens down and it kind of affected them, how I made the putts. But I tried my best and the putts didn’t drop. It is what it is. -2018, R4

Q. What will you take away from this week?
Yeah, this golf course, a lot of people wouldn’t think would fit my eye. For me to contend and feel a little under the weather is really positive for me, and I look forward to going to San Antonio next week. -2018

Q. Were the conditions as tough as they looked?
Yeah. The wind was up today pretty high. It swirls. That’s the key for Harbour Town is you’re down underneath the trees and you don’t feel it, and then it gets above the trees and it’s blowing 20, 25 miles an hour. It’s one of those things you have to contend with. I think I did a pretty good job of it. -2018, R4

Q. What about your game fits Harbour Town?
It’s very similar to the course I grew up in in Japan, with all the tree lines, easy to pick targets. And the greens also, didn’t have any major issues. So it’s very similar to where I was playing in Japan. -2018

Q. First Heritage in almost a decade for you. How was the overall experience?
It was good. I felt like I played really well. I played the golf course pretty good tee to green. I struggled on the greens a bit. Other than that, if I putt well, I should be right up there with a chance to win, for sure because I played well enough. -2018

Q. Did you make yourself like this golf course?
I like the golf course, yeah. I really do. It actually sets up really well for me. I like the golf holes — I don’t really like No. 11 and No. 9, but other than that I like the golf course a lot. I played those holes a total of 5-over this week. -2018

Q. Tied for 39th is your best performance at this championship, why such a change this year?
Coming in I didn’t know if I was going to add it to my schedule. It’s such a great area, I have a ton of family here, my wife’s family is all here, and my family is here. We just tried to make a vacation out of it. And to play well on this golf course, I never really thought I’d play well here, but it’s kind of all come together. I played well most of the year, anyway, I just kind of kept that attitude in here. -2018

Q. As you can hear back here, this is a course that plays favorites. I heard you were getting some love today. Do you feel supported when you come to Harbour Town, because it seems like you are one of the favorites for the crowd?
I think I’m getting more support every year. It’s great to come back to the home state and get to play here. I love the golf course. I love the area. I spent a lot of time here in my youth so I’m very familiar with it. I always enjoy all the support I can get. -2018

Q. What makes this course unique?
Just the fact that it never changes. You know what you’re getting every time you go out there. With that being said, it feels like every shot — you never have the same shot twice. You know it from years past, but the wind is always a little bit different, the conditions are always a little bit different. You can’t really pull on a lot of history. You can in some instances, and in other instances it’s a new shot. It’s tough from that aspect. And it’s just a constant battle out there, as much as you feel like you can play great golf all day around here, you get one shot loose and you’re paying for it real quickly. They did a great job making sure you’re always on your toes, and penalizing you when you do hit one off the grid or in a bad spot. -2018

Q: I know disappointing for you here last year. Talk about the year before that, when you finished 4th, and what it is about this golf course that you like so much.
You know, it’s funny, obviously my iron play is incredible, and when I get going I can get hot. But this course just fits my eye. The shaping of the holes and just a couple of the doglegs, I’m able to shape shots. I love the tee shot on 8. Most people are kind of scared, that tee shot is not easy. Just for whatever reason this course fits me really nicely, and I was able to play really well and hit my wedges close and make a few putts. -2018

Q. Excellent start today, 66. Obviously you’ve had great success around here. What is it in particular that suits you so well?
I really do enjoy this golf course. I have had awfully good success today, and it’s a tournament I seem to play well on. This course, every time I come, I really enjoy it. You know, going in, you know you’re going to have to shape shots, you know you’re going to have to work your golfball. There will be times you’re in the fairway without a clean shot at the green. 8th hole today I drove it on the left side of the fairway and had a play a little draw underneath some tree limbs. There’s so much variety here. I think it’s great fun to play. -2018

Q. After the intensity of last week, how much of a nice change of speed is this week?
I think this is a fun week. This is one of my favorites of the year. I always look forward to this. We stay with some good friends from Atlanta that have a home here. It’s a low key week.

The golf course certainly is no push over. You’ve got to come here to play. But once you get on these greens, you feel if you hit the ball in the center of the greens you have a makeable birdie putt. Last week you were still stressed out with wherever you were on the putting greens last week. -2018

Q. What about this course suits your game?
Hard to tell. Pete Dye and I have gotten along awfully well. My track record for Pete Dye courses have been awfully good. This course definitely goes down as one of my favorites. Anytime I get asked my favorite events of the year, this one is way up on my list. -2018

Q. How enjoyable is it to play a course of this style? We don’t see a whole lot of this on the PGA Tour, but it’s so unique in its layout and design.
Yeah, I think this is one of the better courses we play all year. I think the architects in today’s game should come here and understand what this course is and why it’s still challenging. Too much nowadays we’re playing big, wide open courses that really aren’t great designed golf courses. -2018

Q. What about this course suits you so well?
It’s not overly long. You have a fair amount of short and mid-irons in out here. The par-3s are really tough. So you’ve got to be really precise with your irons. And traditionally the guy that putts the best out here usually has a lot of success. So that’s one of the strengths of my game and I feel that’s why it sets up pretty good for me. -2018

Q. Is there one aspect of this course that really fits your game well?
The greens being a surface that I’m familiar with, growing up on Bermuda, I know it’s a little over seeded right now, but the grass out here is very comfortable. And it’s what I like most about it. -2018

Q: Please help me welcome in Sam Saunders to the interview room. I’m sure you’re aware Mr. Palmer was the inaugural winner here in 1979. How special would it be for you to have a win here?
SAM SAUNDERS: It would be incredibly special. Obviously it would be my first win. I’m still looking for that, so that in itself would be extremely special.

But being on a course — I’ve said this a few times this week, I play a lot of tournaments that he won, but unfortunately a lot of them are not on the same course that he actually played. So for it to be the course he played on and won, would just make it that much more special.

I feel like my game is in good shape. And I played golf here last year. I absolutely love coming to Hilton Head, it’s a quick trip up the road for me, it feels like a home event. I really enjoy it. -2018

Q. Anything you used during the tournament? Can you think of a shot, grandpa told me to hit it here and hit it there?
Not any one particular moment, but it is a lot about the angles out here. You’ve got — I think we talked about knowing where to miss it. Because you hit bad shots, at this golf course it’s the most important of any on Tour, I’d say, to hit — you’ve got to miss it in the right places around here. Because then you have an opportunity to still shape the ball. And I’ve always enjoyed golf courses where if you hit a shot into the trees you have an opportunity to curve the ball. And I love that there’s not long rough here. Even if you’re stuck behind some trees you have a chance to peel one through the trees or hit a big high cut or low hook. It makes it fun, because I feel like there’s always an opportunity to recover from an errant shot here. -2018

Q. At first glance people would look at you and this golf course and think it’s not necessarily a good fit. You made 10 birdies today. How do you see this golf course fitting you and how do you modify off the tee what you do?
I mean obviously it’s a different golf course than we play. It’s just like any other golf course. There’s a spot you’re supposed to hit it to and you go from there. It doesn’t matter where you play or what course it is, you’ve still got to hit good golf shots no matter what you’re hitting off the tee. I like this golf course. I like tight, tree-lined golf courses, it’s what I grew up playing. It’s not like it’s anything new.

But I don’t hit many drivers, I get to hit a few around here. No matter what club you’re hitting, you need to hit it straight and place it in the correct side of the fairway and kind of go from there.

The greens are small and they’re tough greens. They’re fairly flat, but they’re small, and you don’t really want to miss them. So controlling your ball coming into the greens is very imperative, too. -2018

Q. You’ve got a chance to look at the course again today. Where did you hit driver and where do you plan on hitting driver this week? With no wind?
There’s maybe like once or twice on the front. And then I think I hit it on 3. Maybe on 7 today — 6, right after the par 5; maybe there. And then on the back nine, 18, 15. But I’ll probably hit it four, maybe five times in a round. Just kind of all just depends on how I’m feeling. -2018

Q. But with the success of last year?
This is one of those courses that I feel like as long as I’m breathing, I’ve got a chance to play pretty well. Because I don’t have to play perfect golf. No golf course do you have to play perfect golf to win. That’s a huge misconception is that people think when a player wins he just hit every shot perfectly all week. And I feel like I have an understanding of how to play this golf course well enough that if I just use my head and stay patient I can be successful here. And then hopefully if I play really well I’ll have a chance to win. -2018

Q: Please help me welcome in Luke Donald to the interview room. Luke, you hold a pretty impressive record here, seven top-three finishes, five times runner-up. What makes you play so well, and what do you love about this course.
Yes, it’s been a good run around here, for sure. I guess the simple answer is I think it really suits the way I play. Obviously very small greens. It’s tough to hit a lot of greens. You have to be very good around the greens, which is a strong part of my game. It’s a fiddlely golf course, you’re not going to always have straight forward shots to the greens. I think it takes some imagination, some creativity around this course. Again, that’s something I’ve always been known for. And, yeah, those things, and obviously just having a good feel when I come here, has resulted in my playing very well here. -2018

Q. To that end, Luke, where is your game? How do you feel about your game coming to this great place for you otherwise?
Again, I feel the injuries have made me not be able to hit as many balls as I would have liked to. But I actually feel like my game is a lot closer than the results are showing. I’ve been up to work pretty hard this week on my game in preparation for this week. And, again, I think it’s more about just going out there and trusting it more than anything. Off weeks, playing with buddies, everything looks pretty good. It’s just trusting under competition, under the gun. And trying to get back into contention. -2018

Q. Are there places where you feel you really have to throttle back your distance?
I mean, not really, I don’t feel like. Maybe next week at Harbour Town I might have to a little bit, but it’s just what the course calls for. It kind of makes you hit shots to a certain distance. It’s just a different kind of golf course where here you can kind of hit whatever you want off the tee or hit it as far as you want to. You still got to hit it straight though. -2018 Masters

Q. You know the golf course as well as anybody. 400 trees missing from last year. Did you see any differences?
There was a couple of holes that feel a little less claustrophobic, 16, and the tree left of 15th green. Players will be more tempted to go for it. But to be honest, it doesn’t really play too differently. The character of the golf course is the same. In fact some of the trees missing has really helped with the growth. I’ve never seen the course in as good of shape. -2017

Q. What is it about this place? I ask you this every year because you come here and just really play well, no matter what’s going on. Do you just like coming here? Fits your eye or what?
It’s a pure statistical sampling, the guys that can scramble well and have good course management, it’s not a course you need to be a long hitter. Certain holes it helps, obviously, but the long hitters, it’s taking driver out of their hands a lot. So I feel like the playing field’s leveled out. -2017

Q. Have you prepared for a course like this, with such small greens, is there anything you do in particular to prepare for Harbour Town?
You know, I think this is a week where you really need to be striking the ball well. You need to be able to control it off the tee. So if you were struggling a little bit off the tee — fortunately I’ve been driving the ball very straight all year. This is the kind of course where if you didn’t feel comfortable with how you were hitting it off the tee, it might be a kind of week where a guy puts in a driver that he feels he doesn’t hit it as far, but a lot straighter. It’s a week you need to control your tee ball, and be able to hit it straight but also be able to hit a little cut off certain tee shots and some other fairways you need to turn it in there a little bit, as well.

As far as the greens are concerned, you do have to play for the fairway. There’s many holes where it you miss it three yards off the fairway in the right rough, you might as well be 20 yards into the trees, because you’re blocked out. The first hole that comes to mind is No. 11, it’s not even maybe the most difficult hole out here, but if you hit it in the right edge of the fairway there and you are only about 260 off the tee, you’re blocked out completely. So not only do you have to hit it to a certain distance you have to keep it in the left side there to have any opportunity to hit a shot on the green.

So priority on hitting fairways, obviously, and then from there you really have to control your distance, well, too. I found that to be one of the most important things out here is having good distance control. -2017

Q. Sam, your fourth appearance here at the RBC Heritage, you hadn’t made the cut prior to, but now you’re playing on the weekend. What was different this time around?
: Oh, you know, I’ve always liked this golf course. It actually really surprises me I never played well here in the past. I always felt I was poised but just didn’t quite work out. The course really fits my game. And I’m playing well, so I’m happy to see that I’m getting the results that I always expected to get here. -2017

Q. What is the biggest difference between this golf course and anywhere else?
I just feel like it’s a great shot maker’s course. You can be in the fairway and have to carve shots into the pin. It kind of suits my game. I love to see the picture and try to hit the shots. -2017

Q. You played here two of the last three years?
I love it here. It’s probably the top three on Tour for me. Every year I come I love this weather, love in atmosphere. -2017

Q. How many drivers did you hit?
I hit a ton. Pat hit driver maybe three times. -2017

Q. How refreshing is it to play a golf course like this where you don’t have to worry about 330 off the tee every time and you can pick your spots?
Yeah, it’s a nice change. It’s one of the events that we do have that. There are a couple others here. Tampa comes to mind. Oak Hills where I won wasn’t a bomber’s paradise, so to speak. That’s kind of the way the game is going.

Seems like guys that are hitting the furthest are contending more and more. Occasionally we get a golf course like this where being in position, being in the fairway, playing a course that’s a little bit shorter, so everybody is kind of hitting the same irons into the holes, I feel like I have a little better chance, maybe. -2017

Q. How do you prepare for these greens? Smallest greens on Tour. Is there anything you do special to get ready for this week or the course in general?
Yoou better be chipping and putting good. I think a lot of the lowest putts per round come at this golf course, because, one, because you’re missing a bunch of greens. But you have to be really patient. And you have to be really committed to your targets, if you start guiding it and start missing greens. I think I’ve learned here, pick a good target right in the front of the green, and just hit it. If you’re on the green you’ve got a legitimate chance to make birdie, it’s just a matter of being free.

Good ball strikers, you look at either major champions or guys like Boo Weekley that hit a lot of really, good quality golf shots, seem to play well around here. So I’m just looking to be patient, capture some of those good feelings from around here, good memories. -2017

Q. How do you prepare for a course like this with such small greens, and is there any particular shots you practice to prepare for Harbour Town?
Well, I played the golf course a lot different to most of the other guys. I play really aggressive. I like to hit my driver and longer clubs off the tees. It allows me to go into the greens with a lot shorter irons than most.

So I think coming here you need to do some wedge play, for myself, some wedge drills, getting your numbers right and that sort of stuff. And work on the sort of shots that you feel you need to hit around this place. I hit that little slow stinger that I hit. So I’m going to head out to the range after this and work on that, but I would like to visualize and feel the type of shot I need to hit. And as soon as I do that I’m going to give myself chances. Just work on the things that’s going to help you this week. For me it’s the pitching shots and obviously the driver. -2017

Q. First of all, is it in your top-5 or top-10?
It’s honestly my favorite event. I used to say that about Colonial. But I really enjoy — for about the last five to ten years this has been — before I even won in 2010, this has been my favorite event. And a lot of it has to do with the golf course. It calls for a lot of different shots. It’s different than a lot of golf courses we play. I won’t lie to you, my strengths are very valuable here, getting the high, bombing draw and driver isn’t really in my wheelhouse. And there’s not a huge need for that here. So it’s always going to be a top three. But right now it’s my favorite one. -2017

Q: A lot of places the fairways are so wide you feel you don’t have to focus in so hard, but here you have to focus in because they are so narrow.
It’s a very claustrophobic place. A lot of overhanging trees. And I think for some reason that real tight feeling narrows my focus and gets me more engaged in the shot, and that’s why I seem to hit it very well around here. And also the greens are very small, so if you do miss greens you need to be really good around the greens. I’ve always putted pretty well around here, too. A lot of factors going into why I’ve been successful. -2017

Q. Greens here are the smallest on Tour. Do you do anything different to prepare for the smallest putting surfaces on the PGA TOUR?
No, not really. You want to obviously come here with good ball-striking. I feel like it’s important to keep it in play as much as possible. As I said, this is a claustrophobic place. You want to keep it in the fairways as much as possible, even though there’s not much rough here, you can control it from the fairways much better coming into these small greens than you can from that first cut. So really that’s the key to hitting a lot of greens is trying to hit a lot of fairways and being in the right spots.

But it’s a little bit of a chess game, this course. You really have to know where the good misses are. There are certain places you can just not go, where you cannot access the green, because you’re blocked out by trees.

In that way, I like the extra kind of course management and course thinking that this course demands. -2017

Q. You won here in 2009, had a lot of success at this course early. Last few years not so much. Is it anything that you found this week again here at Harbour Town?
No, I think the combination of being hurt and then having two surgeries and being out a year and a half and coming back, it’s been tougher than I thought. Kind of slow, and not playing every week.

It’s always good to come back somewhere where I’ve got some good memories. I love this golf course. It’s my favorite golf course on Tour. It’s kind of the consensus of everybody. They love this golf course. It’s really, really good. -2017

Q. Would you mind giving your thoughts on Harbour Town Golf Links as a course and it’s uniqueness as a course on Tour?
I’ve said it for a while, that this is one of the best golf courses that we’re going to play all year. A lot of the guys rave about it because you have to work the ball both ways off the tee. You have to work the ball both ways going into the green. You have to miss it in the right spots around the green to have a chance. It’s one of the only courses on Tour where you’ll see that you have to play every single shot in your bag.

And I love it. I’m not a super technical guy, so the guy that kind of imagines shots going both ways. I work the ball probably a little more than the average guy out here. This is a course when I looked at the schedule starting off that this is one of the places I thought that I had the best chance to contend at. And I guess after all the dust settled my intuition was correct. -2017

Q. Talk a little bit about being the first player from South Carolina.
Honestly I didn’t realize that until maybe after my first or second practice round one of the SCGA guys came up to me and said no South Carolina guy has ever won here. It’s crazy to think that all of the great golfers that have come out of the state not one of them has won here. But to be the first is really, really special. And like I said, to win in my home state, I honestly couldn’t have dreamed anything better than this. -2017

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

Q: 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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