Preview – PGA Tour – RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina –
The PGA Tour returns to action this week at the RBC Heritage with a number of participants from the Masters teeing it up in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
There could be a Masters Hangover for some of the top players as in years past. The 132-player field boasts a number of Augusta participants who played into the weekend including World No. 1 Jason Day, Paul Casey, Danny Lee, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Brandt Snedeker. Defending champion Jim Furyk is out recovering from a wrist injury.
Historically, this event seems to pay off players with specific games and familiarity with the venue. Thus, experience plays a role. At less than 7,200 yards, Harbour Town
Golf Links is a par-71 and places a premium on accurate driving and iron play.
Narrow fairways and small, deftly contoured and small-ish greens with plenty of bunkers highlight this Hilton Head Island layout – requiring champions to be adept at getting the ball up-and-down. The layout fits the likes of Davis Love III to a tee where he is a five-time champion. The 18th hole features a super-wide fairway and the iconic lighthouse in the distance.
The ability to either hit greens in regulation consistently or show a stellar scrambling game goes a long way at the Heritage.
Recently, compact players with smart, controlled games are winning like Snedeker (2011), Jim Furyk (2010) and Brian Gay, who won by 10 shots in 2009. Boo Weekley also won here back-to-back in 2007 and 2008. Graeme McDowell and Kuchar also won here recently.
- Jim Furyk (18-under) edged Kevin Kisner in a playoff to win the title. Furyk posted a front-nine 30 en route to a 63 in the final round. John Merritt was third alone at 16-under followed by Brendon Todd (15-under) and Kuchar (14-under). Sean O’Hair, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace logged Top 10s.
FANTASY: Start Donald. He has strong finishes here from 2009 to 2011—including a runner-up, T-3 and solo second. Always seems to be in the mix here with five Top 3s in his last seven tries. Consider Kisner for another run after last year’s playoff loss. For an international play, take Fitzpatrick who is coming off a Top 10 at Augusta. Day is always a fantasy play with his game.
With his history and coming off that ace at No. 16 at Augusta, look for DL3 to make a small run this week. Perhaps, a Top 25.
BETTORS: At 6-to-1 at www.golfodds.com, Day is the outright betting favorite as the top player in the world with victories in six of his last 14 worldwide starts. But for better value, take Kuchar at 20-1 odds. Win-less last season, he is due for a victory. For a longer shot payout, take Danny lee or Donald. Both are 50-1 selections.
The Golf Channel has television coverage Thursday and Friday with CBS Sports picking up the weekend coverage.
Other Golf News:
- The European Tour hosts the Spanish Open this week. Sergio Garcia is the favorite at 5 1/2-1 odds. The field includes Rafael Cabrera-Bello, coming off a great string of events in the U.S., Martin Kaymer and Soren Kjeldsen, who made a deep run at a Green Jacket last weekend.
- The LPGA Tour returns to action at the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. Golf Channel has television coverage week. Sei Young Kim, who captured the Founders Cup in Phoenix in March, is the defending champion at the LOTTE.
- Bernhard Langer, who for three rounds played toe-to-toe with the game’s best at Augusta last week, and Miguel Angel Jimenez compete this week at the Champions Tour’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship.