The Confidence Factor: 50th RBC Heritage

Pete Dye is up to his old tricks again at one of his earliest designs, Harbour Town Golf Links. This will be the first of three Dye tracks (TPC Louisiana, TPC Sawgrass) that the pros will see in the next month.

The last three winners at HTGL have covered three completely different categories. The challenge is identifying which one will be in play this year.

Check the details here:

50th RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

Hilton Head Island, S.C.

 

Harbour Town Golf Links

Yards: 7,099 per the official scorecard

Par: 71 (36-35)

Greens: TifEagle Bermuda; 3,700 square feet on average

Rough: Bermuda and Rye; 1.25″

Bunkers: 54

Water Hazards: 12

Course Architect(s): Pete Dye (1969) with player-consultant Jack Nicklaus; Pete Dye (2011).

Purse: $6.7 million ($1.26 winner; 500 FedExCup points)

Defending Champion:  Wesley Bryan became the first native of South Carolina to don the tartan jacket as he defeated Luke Donald by a shot.

 

Notes:

  • 132 players; stroke play; top 70 and ties play the weekend
  • Field is set as there is no open qualifier

 

Previous Champions

2017: Wesley Bryan; 271

2016: Branden Grace; 275

2015: Jim Furyk; 266*

2014: Matt Kuchar; 273

2013: Graeme McDowell; 275*

2012: Carl Pettersson; 270

2011: Brandt Snedeker; 272*

2010: Jim Furyk; 271*

2009: Brian Gay; 264

2008: Boo Weekley; 269

2007: Boo Weekley; 270

2006: Aaron Baddeley; 269

*playoff

# not playing this week

 

Facts and Figures:

  • Tournament record: 264; (Gay, 2009).
  • Course Record: 61; (last was Troy Merritt, 2015).
  • Defending champs: Last was Weekley (2007-08).
  • Multiple Winners in the field: Love (five times), Cink, Weekley and Furyk.
  • Maiden PGA Tour Win: Weekley (2007), Grace, (2016) and Bryan (2017).
  • First Time at Event: Weekley (2007) and Bryan (2017).
  • Bogey-free rounds: 8-5-3-2 as the course became more difficult as the week progressed. Kevin Kisner joined Bryan with two rounds each (Friday and Saturday).
  • Low round of 2017: 63; Bud Cauley (Thursday).
  • Americans Winners: 12 since 2000.
  • International Winners: Grace, McDowell, Pettersson and Baddeley since 2006.
  • Rookie Studs 2017: Bryan (Win), Ollie Schniederjans (T3), Patrick Cantlay (T3) and J.J. Spaun (T6).

28 of the last 35 winners have played the Masters but that wasn’t the case last year.

No lead is safe either as the winner over the last five seasons has trailed by three or more shots in the final round.

 

The Field

Favorites

in order of preference for this week and this tournament

 

Dustin Johnson: The world’s No. 1 player didn’t fire at Augusta National and still collected T10 money. I don’t think he gets as much credit for his nous as maybe he should. With the exception of Match Play he’s been in the top 16 every week. I don’t buy the “short, crooked course” as a reason to fade him. He plays well annually at Riviera and Pebble Beach and those aren’t courses that are bomb-and-gouge. He’s now an RBC ambassador and I doubt he’s just showing up for fun.

Brian Harman: He posted his two best rounds here last year on Saturday and Sunday so he’s figuring it out. He’s figuring just about everything out with seven top-10’s on the season. I blame his putter but his SG: Total is the 12th-best total on TOUR.

Paul Casey: The angle last week was the Englishman was fighting a back deal early in the week. Once he finally loosened up he looked like the guy who hit the top six at Augusta the past three years. He flirted with 63 on Sunday and it wasn’t because he was holing putts from everywhere. #BallStrkingClinic.

Cameron Smith: He backed up his top-five payday at Match Play with his second top five in majors. He should be in that conversation again this week at HTGL where he’s posted three 67’s and a 68 in eight career loops. He’s 19th on TOUR in scoring average and has a wicked short game.

Matt Kuchar: He’s on this list at RBC Heritage until he plays himself off of it. He MC in his first visit and has rattled off 13 straight paychecks. His worst finish in his last four tries was T11 last year. His 64 in the final round was the T2 best of the week.

Luke Donald: Massive, massive, massive call for gamers this week as the Englishman limps into an event where he’s done everything but win the last decade. Since 2009 he has finished second FIVE TIMES and third TWICE. He was the 54-hole leader last year before finishing second. He’s played eight events this season and has posted just three rounds in the 60’s. This is the make-or-break point for investors in my opinion. He gets the benefit of the doubt because of his past record.

Webb Simpson: He’s rattled off seven in a row at HTGL and he’s playing some of his best golf in recent years. He’s making cuts for fun and flying under the radar. He’s 10th in SG: Putting and his short game is on fire. He’s fourth on TOUR in scoring.

William McGirt: Although his form is not as shaky as Donald’s, the South Carolina native isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. His best effort of the season came down the street at The RSM Classic (T8) last November. He’s essentially improved every year he’s played this event and won’t have to worry about being the first native to win.

Patrick Cantlay: Ok, maybe I went overboard on him last week at Augusta but two rounds at one of the hardest golf courses on the planet isn’t slowing my roll. This is a wonderfully soft landing place as he finished T3 last year with all four rounds in the red.

Marc Leishman: I’m under the belief that Thursday and Friday were more important for this week than Saturday and Sunday. The pressure that goes along with playing in the final group on Saturday won’t carry over this week. I bet the feeling from a top 10 does.

Kevin Kisner: His accuracy off the tee this week has value but it’s his love this part of the world (and Bermuda) that also interests me. Gamers remember this is where he started his breakout in 2015. I’ll point out he was T4 before that at The RSM Classic. #Coastal.

Ian Poulter: Winning to get in the Masters inflates his street cred even more, if that was possible. Without having to answer that question any more he can just play. He’s never MC in seven tries and opened with 66 last year, his best ever, to finish T11, his best ever.

Bryson DeChambeau: Last time he was on Bermuda he finished second at Bay Hill. He was T4 in his pro debut here two years ago. Converging trends scare me to death but not as much as quantum physics.

Beau Hossler: He would have been a story last week at Augusta if he would have defeated Poulter in the playoff at Houston. Instead he was P2 and probably an afterthought this week. He followed his first top 10 of the season with his second so he’s covered before. Having a week off to tune it up won’t hurt the momentum.

Emiliano Grillo: With top 10-finishes in half of his last four, I don’t need to mention he’s made the weekend in 14 straight when he’s played. T3 at Houston with all four rounds in the 60’s suggests he’s close.

 

Next Tier

no particular order

Luke List: Hot golf is hot golf. I’m not leading with him but there is plenty of room for a guy playing this well over two months.

Kevin Na: With three top-10 checks in his last five appearances on Hilton Head I can stick him in deeper lineups.

Ryan Moore: Sprinkler line is his friend off the tee and his short game is mint. First time here since 2008.

Sam Ryder: He led the Houston Open in SG: Putting. I’ll ride the heat this week after his solo fifth at GCH.

Bud Cauley: Every week he’s in the column. He’ll be tuning up for Zurich as he’s playing with #RTR buddy Justin Thomas. He opened with 63 here last year.

Jason Dufner: MAKE A PUTT.

Harris English: He MC at Houston with 72-70 so it’s not like he fell off a cliff! I’m right back on this week in EVERY format.

Jim Furyk: He’s not playing enough to merit a selection above. He’s playing a course that merits selection.

Charley Hoffman: Plenty of “almost” around here as he does his annual tune-up before Valero. NEXT week is the week but I wouldn’t be surprised if he rides the momentum of 67 on Sunday at Augusta into town. He’s T14 and T12 in his last two stroke play events.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash.

James Hahn: He’s rattled off 14 cuts in a row. This is a recording.

Ollie Schniederjans: We’re riding the roller coaster with him but the upside is well up there. As he goes through the cycle again this year he should be loading up on experiences and building up calluses. His T3 last year should put plenty of eyes on him.

Kevin Streelman: It’s hard to turn a blind eye to a guy who’s hit the top 10 here before and cashed in 12 of 13 events this season.

Russell Knox: If Valspar is a similar exercise then Knox will remember he was T16 there. If Pebble has similar greens, he’ll remember that was his biggest check in the first three months of 2018 (T15). He shot 64 here in 2015, 65 in 2016 and 67 last year. He’s never finished outside of the top 18 in four tries and was T2 in 2016.

Jason Kokrak: He’d be Russell Knox if not for his 75 on Sunday last year. Lovely sleeper.

Graeme McDowell: After winning in 2013 over Simpson in a playoff he’s posted three top 30 finishes in four tries. If he’s not overvalued as a past champion, I’m taking a look as he’s been decent lately.

John Huh: Last two times on TOUR he’s posted 66 and 67 but had quiet Sundays. He was T3 here in 2014 and probably doesn’t mind that it’s not 7,700 yards.

 

Fades:

Brandt Snedeker: Look up his results since he split with caddy Scott Vail on 2 January 2018. Look up his results at this event before and after he won in 2011.

Zach Johnson: It’s all relative but he doesn’t play well here. There are more rules than exceptions.

Kevin Chappell: I have no clue where he is with his back. He defends next week at Valero so I’ll patiently wait one more week.

England: Hatton, Fitzpatrick and Fisher. No dots to connect and Bermuda might not be the surface.

Charles Howell III: Some habits are hard to break. His best finish in a decade is T22.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s