The world can’t stop talking about the fifteenth major victory for Tiger Woods at the 2019 US Masters, but the PGA Tour carries on without him this week as it takes in the RBC Heritage.
It’s a tournament with another great history, stretching back to 1969 when Arnold Palmer became the first name on the trophy. Since then, the likes of Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, and Tom Watson, have all won the tournament at least twice. However, the event is most synonymous with five-time winner Davis Love III.
The tournament takes place at Harbour Town Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina, a Par 71 course measuring just less than 7,100 yards. For many PGA professionals, it’s one of their favourite events of the year, providing a different test to the 7,500+ yard golf courses they tend to play week in week out on tour.
The fairways are quite generous, but players are often required to find the correct half of them to have an ideal angle into the smaller than normal greens. That is why accurate iron players and short-game wizards often do well here.
The 2019 RBC Heritage has attracted a high-class field. Dustin Johnson heads the market, whilst other players that featured at last week’s US Masters include Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, and Webb Simpson.
However, before making your selections, you may also want to consider the post-tournament performances of the past 10 winners. Six of those winners contested the US Masters the previous week, with 2014 winner Matt Kuchar faring best of those by finishing fifth at the first major of the season. Last year’s RBC Heritage winner Satoshi Kodaira finished twenty-eighth, whilst the other four winners all missed the cut at the Masters.
Three of the other four winners finished second, fourth, and 26th two-weeks earlier at the Valero Texas Open, whilst the other finished tied-62nd at the Puerto Rico Open on his previous starts. That suggests it could be worth looking beyond the big names at the head of the market this week.
The first player to catch the eye this week is Jim Furyk, who won the 2010 and 2015 renewals. He missed the cut in the US Masters before both of those victories but, having not played in the US Masters this season, the old-timer could have benefitted from the extra rest having put together form figures of 9/2/18/17/23 on his last five starts. That 23rd also came in the Valero Texas Open and this short course offers Furyk a genuine chance of winning this week.
Another former winner Branden Grace also looks worth including in this week’s staking plan. His 58th at the Masters last week was okay, as Augusta doesn’t suit his game, but he played very well at the WGC Matchplay on his previous start to win his group. He’s yet to finish outside of the top-11 on his three previous visits here and, at 45th in the world rankings, he’ll need a big week soon to avoid falling out of the all-important world’s top-50.
With so many multiple-winners in this tournament’s history, it could also be worth including the 2013 winner Graeme McDowell. The Irishman made the most of a drop-in-class to win in the Dominican Republic two starts ago and again caught the eye when finishing seventh at the Valero Texas Open. Despite two good events, he’s still ranked 112 in the world, and he’ll be looking for another big week to take another step back towards the top-100 or even top-50.
One other player who should have won this tournament is Luke Donald, and the former world number one is a five-timer runner-up here, as well as finishing third here on two occasions. After suffering from back injuries, he has been working hard on his game recently, which showed when he finished ninth two starts ago. As the modern game depends so much on driving most weeks, he may struggle to get back among the world’s elite, but his short game means Harbour Town is somewhere he should still be able to compete against the best.