Who you should bet on and roster for this week's RBC Heritage.
Following a historic week at the Masters and the pressure and excitement that comes with golf’s first major of the year, the PGA Tour heads to a more laid back atmosphere this week and the RBC Heritage.
The week after a major can be hit or miss for tour events, though this year’s Heritage will feature a loaded field of players, some trying to build momentum off of Augusta and others looking to forget what happened.
Eight of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up at Harbour Town including world No.1 Dustin Johnson, No.9 Xander Schauffele and No. 18 Patrick Cantlay, all of whom finished in the top ten at the Masters.
Francesco Molinari will also peg it this week after seeing his back nine lead at Augusta implode en route to a T5 finish.
Satoshi Kodaira returns to Hilton Head as the defending champion after defeating Si-Woo Kim in a playoff a year ago.
Along with it’s iconic lighthouse at No. 18, the Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus design at Harbour Town features some of the tightest fairways and smallest greens players will face all season. The small confines call for accuracy off the tee and the ability to scramble when players miss with their irons, so keep an eye on driving accuracy, greens in regulation and scrambling stats.
Nuts and bolts
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links (7,099 yards, par 71)
Defending champion: Satoshi Kodaira (-12, 272, playoff over Si-Woo Kim)
Weather forecast: Partly sunny, temperatures in the low 70’s. Thunderstorms possible Friday.
Bryson Dechambeau (19/1, $11,700)
After an opening round 66 at the Masters, Dechambeau faded over the final three rounds, but his week at Augusta will always be remembered for his hole-in-one on Sunday at No. 16. The first ace, not only of his career, but his entire golfing life! Bryson now heads to Harbour Town where he finished one shot out of a playoff last year and has two top-fives in three appearances. The comfort level at Hilton Head is there as Dechambeau fired three rounds in the 60’s a year ago and was the leader after two rounds, before a 75 on Saturday derailed him.
He currently ranks 28th in driving accuracy and 22nd in scoring average.
Patrick Cantlay (24/1, $10,900)
For a brief moment on Sunday, Cantlay was the solo leader at the Masters. Ultimately he finished T9, but the 27-year-old showed strong signs that he’s ready to take that next step and win for the second time.
Cantlay has had enormous success at Harbour Town, where he’s finished T7 and T3 the last two years.
He’s doing a ton of things well right now, but his iron play and wedge game stand out. He ranks 14th in scrambling and 30th in GIR %. He also ranks sixth on tour with a sub-70 scoring average.
Webb Simpson (31/1, $10,800)
Pete Dye designs have had a long-standing love/hate relationship with PGA Tour pros. Simpson falls on the love side of that debate. The 2018 Players Champ (at TPC Sawgrass, a Dye design) has had two top-five’s at Harbour Town over his career and has reeled off sub-70 scores in seven of his last eight rounds at the Heritage. Webb made a Saturday charge at the Masters, shooting 64 on Moving Day and eventually finishing T5. He ranks seventh in Scrambling and 13th in driving accuracy.
Jim Furyk (37/1, $10,300)
He may be 48, but Furyk is your horse for course at Harbour Town. The two-time Heritage champion (2010, 2014), has racked up eight top-10s over his career at Hilton Head, and he comes into the week well-rested, having not played the Masters last week. Captain Furyk has rejuvenated his playing career with accuracy, both with his driver and iron play, leading the Tour in Driving Accuracy and ranking 12th in Greens in Regulation percentage. He also comes in hot, having top 20’s in four of his last five tournaments—his worst finish in the last two months is a T-23 at the Valero Texas Open.
Luke Donald (70/1 $9,000)
No player on Tour has had more success or heartbreak at Hilton Head, depending on how you look at it, than Luke Donald. The former world No. 1, has racked up five second-place finishes at the Heritage over his career. He’s never won the event, but along with the runner-ups, Donald has two thirds and has made the cut 10 of 13 times. Luke showed signs of life at last month’s Valspar Championship, where he finished T9 at the tight Copperhead course layout. He’s only played in three full-field events this season, so statistics are incomplete, but over his last 20 rounds at Harbour Town, Donald has 17 rounds of par or lower. I like those numbers at 70 to 1.
Francesco Molinari (15/1, $11,800)
Molinari is talented enough to drop a 66 on Thursday at Hilton Head, but heartache and exhaustion often take a few days to set in, and when they do, it ain’t pretty. Molinari’s back-nine meltdown at Augusta must have the Italian wishing he had a week off. In four starts at the Heritage, Molinari’s best finish is T22 and he’s cracked the top 25 just once. I’m not sure he can find the mental energy needed to scramble and grind his way around Harbour Town, less than a week after Augusta.