RBC Heritage Analysis
18th - 21st June
Harbour Town Links is a golf course with tight tree-lined fairways, meaning accuracy tends to be more of a weapon here than power. A great short game is also usually a must as it’s impossible to hit all the smaller than average greens and getting up and down regularly when doing so is what keeps players on the leaderboard.
It’s not often you see Rory McIlroy priced up at double-figure prices nowadays, but the world number one’s power driving probably won’t be able to dominate RBC Heritage. After finishing 57th here 11 years ago, this is also his first appearance in the event since. A poor closing round last week is another reason he won’t be carrying my money this week.
Second favourite Justin Thomas finished 11th here on debut five years ago but was well down the field on his only other visit. John Rahm makes his debut after missing the cut last week, while Morikawa may struggle on his tournament debut after blowing a great chance to win last week.
Xander Schauffele also went close to winning last week but he hasn’t troubled the leaderboard in two previous visits, though the same could have been said of Colonial before his near miss last week.
It’s no surprise to see early money around for Bryson DeChambeau as he’s had to top-4 finishes at the RBC Heritage in four attempts, but he’s also missed the cut in two other visits. He may need to rein in his new hit it as far as he can approach if he’s to win this week but he’s still the most interesting of the players towards the head of the market.
However, the first player in this week’s staking plan is Brandon Grace. The South African won his first PGA Tour event at Harbour Town Links four years ago and he simply loves a links test. Having won in his native South Africa earlier in the season, he showed up well when finishing 19th last week, and looks set for another good performance at a course where he’s finished in the top-11 in three of his four visits.
Ian Poulter also played some excellent gold last week at Colonial without ever getting into contention and that should have set him up nicely for a return to a course he’s played well at on his last three visits. He’s finished 11/7/10 in the last three years and there’s no reason why he won’t give us a good run for our money at a decent price.
This week’s other three selections are all priced at triple-figure odds but return to a course where they have gone close to winning in the past.
There’s a chance that Luke Donald has gone at the game and he certainly struggles to keep up with the demands of most modern golf courses where power hitting is paramount. But Harbour Town Links is somewhere his great short game can keep him in contention. An amazing seven top-3 finishes on is first nine visits means he’s earned more money at Harbour Town Links than at any other course in his career, and I’m willing to take a chance that a return rekindles his enthusiasm.
It’s a similar scenario for Kevin Streelman, as the ageing short-hitter just can’t hack it against the big boys on some of the 7,500+ yard courses. But he’s already showed this season that he can at least hit the frame at suitable venues so, after finishing 7th and 6th here on his last two visits, he could sneak a place at big odds.
A much younger player who also fits into the Donald and Streelman mold is Si Woo Kim, who doesn’t have much power but has a short game to match anyone on his day. He’s already won a Players’ Championship and had shot a great opening round at this year’s cancelled event, so he could go well in an event in which he’s finished 11th and 2nd in three attempts.