Event No. 2 of the “new season” takes the TOUR to another familiar track.
Pete Dye’s Harbour Town plays host for the 52nd edition of the RBC Heritage.
The sound of silence was eerie last weekend at Colonial but hey, we finally had big boy golf to enjoy so let’s keep the momentum rolling this week.
For the second even running the TOUR stops at another old favorite as this will be the 52nd annual RBC Heritage Classic at Pete Dye’s Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
The Dye layout weaves 7,099 yards (Par-71) through the narrow pine tree chutes and across the marshes of the Low Country. Tiny TifEagle Bermudagrass greens protected by water (17 penalty areas) and sand (54 bunkers) require either laser-focused iron play or short-order cook scrambling skills to attempt birdies or save pars. With minimal rough around the greens and off the fairways there will be ample opportunities for recovery shots.
There’s no time to rest or relax either as the last SEVEN winners have all trailed entering Sunday so objects will appear closer than they seem in that rear-view mirror.
Similarly with the Charles Schwab Challenge last week, RBC Heritage will have an expanded (read: DEEP) field this week as it does not follow the Masters on the calendar this year. It’s the first time since 1982 this event won’t be the come-down after an intense week in the Georgia pines. Also it looks like a very serene weather week as well and that should help scoring on Calibogue Sound. With 113 TOUR winners teeing it up from 153 entered (Kevin Na, WD) we should have plenty of fireworks again this week. The average winning score over 50 years is around 11-under par.
Defending champion CT Pan is the fourth consecutive first-time TOUR winner at Harbour Town. On the line, along with another Tartan jacket this week, is a purse of $7.1 million with $1.278 million and 500 FedExCup Points.
2019: CT Pan (-12, 272)
Became the first winner in seven to NOT trail by three shots or more entering the final round. … Sat two back of 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson (T28) before closing with 67 to defeat Matt Kuchar by a shot. … 13 one-putt greens on Sunday. … At 27 he became the fourth consecutive winner who was 27 or 28 years of age. … Didn’t register in the top 35 of Distance, Accuracy, GIR or Ball-Striking but was fourth in Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage. … Excelled around (T7) and on (5th) the greens and co-led the field in Par-4 scoring. … Entered the week without a top-10 payday on the season. … T2 with 19 birdies for the week.
Notables in the field this week: Dustin Johnson closed with 77 from the final group in gusty conditions. … Shane Lowry (T3) opened 65-68 to lead after 18 and 36 holes. … Scott Piercy (T3) was one of five in double digits under-par, -10, for the week. … JT Poston (T6) closed 67-66 in his debut. … Kevin Streelman (T6) hit the top 10 for the second year running and third time in his last five trips. … Sam Burns was ninth alone on debut.
2018: Satoshi Kodaira (-12, 272) – NOT ENTERED THIS WEEK
Trailed 54-hole leader Ian Poulter (T7) by six entering Sunday. … Defeated Si Woo Kim in a three-hole playoff. … Became the sixth consecutive winner to make up three shots or more in the final round. … Won for the first time on TOUR in just his 15th start. … Joined Wesley Bryan as event winners in their first attempt for the second year running. … Shot 63 in Round 2, lowest of the week. … T2 in Par-4 scoring, extending the streak of winners T2 or better in that category to five years. … Led the field in Proximity. … Last four winners all top seven Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green as he was seventh.
Notables in the field this week: Bryson DeChambeau (T3) led Kim by one after 36 holes. … Luke List (T3) won last week on the Korn Ferry Tour at Dye’s Valley. Dots connected! … Billy Horschel and Webb Simpson shared fifth. … Other T7 were Streelman, Kevin Kisner, Chesson Hadley and Byeong Hun-An.
2017: Wesley Bryan (-13, 271)
Lagged four behind Jason Dufner’s 54-hole lead before his 67 defeated Luke Donald by a shot. … Became first native of South Carolina to win. … First TOUR win in start No. 18. … Bogey free in Rounds 2 and 3. … First time in history the cut was under-par (-1). … Hit only 40 GIR, the second worst total for a winner since 1982 here. … Weather was perfect; no wind and warm.
Notables in the field this week: Brian Gay (T6) won in 2009 by 10 shots and set the tournament record of 264 (-20). … JJ Spaun (T6) posted rounds of 67 and 66 on his debut. … Bud Cauley (T9) led after Round 1 after posting 63. … Brian Harman (T9) played his last three rounds nine-under.
Key stat leaders
Top golfers in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.
* – previous top 10 finish here since 2015 or previous champion
1 Rory McIlroy (debut)
2 Justin Thomas
3 Hideki Matsuyama
7 *Byeong-Hun An
8 Dustin Johnson
9 Corey Conners
10 Jon Rahm (debut)
11 Xander Schauffele
12 Brooks Koepka (debut)
14 *Jason Kokrak
15 Emiliano Grillo
16 Gary Woodland
18 Matthew Fitzpatrick
19 *Kevin Streelman
20 *Webb Simpson
21 Tony Finau
23 Joaquin Niemann
24 Sergio Garcia
25 Lucas Glover
26 *Jim Furyk
2 *Webb Simpson
4 *Aaron Baddeley (2007 winner)
5 Lucas Glover
6 Matt Jones
7 Sungjae Im
8 Ernie Els
9 Brian Stuard
9 Denny McCarthy
12 Hideki Matsuyama
13 *Jim Furyk
14 *Bud Cauley
17 *Scott Piercy
18 *Rory Sabbatini
19 Ryan Armour
20 *CT Pan
21 Vaughn Taylor
22 *Si Woo Kim
24 Jimmy Walker
25 Rory McIlroy
26 *Matt Kuchar
26 *Brandt Snedeker (2011 winner)
Jim Furyk: The 2010 and 2015 champ sits No. 1 on the all-time money list; includes eight top 10s and 10 top 25s but a quiet last three years because of Ryder Cup duties.
Luke Donald: Streak of seven seconds or thirds in nine years from 2009-2017 but T33 and MC the last two.
Matt Kuchar: One finish in the last six years outside T11; runner-up last year and 15 of 16 cuts made career.
Branden Grace: 2016 champ was T7 on debut in 2015; T11 in defense but MC last year. 69.44 average from 16 rounds is mint.
Kevin Streelman: Seven straight; three of the last five top 10s; top 10 last two.
Ian Poulter: Nine straight; four of the last five T18 or better; last three T10-T7-T11.
Webb Simpson: Nine straight with six T16 or better; last three T16-T5-T11.
Bryson DeChambeau: Made his pro debut here (T4) and added T3 in 2018. Missed the cut in the odd years so you should be safe this week!
Troy Merritt: Last three visits included setting the course record (61) in 2015 (3rd) and T10 last year.
Stewart Cink: Two-time champ has cashed 15 of 20 lifetime; MC in three of last four; one top 25 in his last nine.
Graeme McDowell: 2013 champ hasn’t bettered T29 in his last four trips but has cashed in eight of 10.