After the full-on assault to the senses of the Masters everyone needs a come-down and The RBC Heritage provides it. Last week was a huge high for players and spectators; this week is perfectly pitched to allow for re-entry into the real world. The tournament and the host have done a great job of pitching themselves in this slot: The players and their families love the Hilton Head Island location, the golf course is definitely quirky but in a somewhat relaxed way, and yet a jacket is the goal at the start of the week. But this time it’s a fun tartan one, rather than a life-changing green version.
Last time out
A great week for Scottie Scheffler and not a bad one for us either with two of our most confident picks being mid-salary top five finishers Shane Lowry and Corey Conners. If you throw in cuts made for value picks Kevin Na, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Si-Woo Kim (plus another for deep dive Mackenzie Hughes), we were enjoying the week almost as much as Jim Nantz.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||C. Morikawa||$10,200|
Collin Morikawa ($10,200): For most of 2022, the two-time major champion’s Strokes Gained Approach stats have been pretty poor by his exceptional standards and the results have suffered as a consequence. But last week he was back to his best at Augusta and that’s a big tick in the box ahead of this week. It’s also good that he didn’t over-spend on physical, mental or emotional energy last week. He made the cut but little impression in his tournament debut, but was T–7 last year and only slipped a bit when chasing the lead in round four (he had been second after 54 holes). There are some unexciting prospects at the top end which adds to Morikawa feeling like a good move.
Matt Kuchar ($7,800) The veteran is an absolute monster at Harbour Town. He missed the cut on his debut in 2003 but since then has never failed to make the weekend. That amount to 17 instances of playing four rounds, 11 of them top 25s with six top 10s including victory in 2014 and second in 2019. He was second last time out in the Texas Open and his best golf this season has come on courses that suit him. Is likely to be a little niggly that he missed out on playing the Masters last week so had the bit between his teeth.
Cameron Tringale ($7,000) After making 16 top 30 finishes in 28 starts in 2021, Tringale landed two top 15s in his first four starts after the New Year but then it has all gone wrong: three strokeplay starts without a top 60 and early release from the WGC – Dell Match Play. His course record is poor: three starts, none since 2015, no cut made, and not even one level-par round nevermind one under-par.
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Harbour Town Golf Links
Harbour Town Golf Links brings together the design principles of two architects whose layouts are frequently used by the PGA Tour – Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus. It features elements of both men’s key ideas, with the quirkiness of Dye (the par-3s especially) and the demands on approach play that Nicklaus enjoys.
The contrast between the challenge last week at Augusta National and this week is really quite profound. Augusta is wide, Harbour Town narrow (sometimes players will hit the fairway and find their approach blocked by a tree). Augusta is hilly, Harbour Town is flat as a pancake. Augusta has sweeping greens, Harbour Town has tiny putting surfaces. Dye’s TPC Sawgrass is a course that many elite players argue limits them, and that feeling is perhaps even greater at Harbour Town – it’s a factor to bear in mind.
This is a distinct test. The island setting provides blustery wind. The course twists through the forest for the most part so the ability to thread the ball down tree-lined fairways is a must. Nor is accurate ball-striking in the wind enough – players also need a good short game because the greens are so small missing them at some point is an inevitability. The flipside is that hitting the short grass almost always presents a birdie opportunity.
It is not a long test, at 7,099 yards, but nor is it one that can be overpowered by brute strength. Course form holds up this week and also reference courses such as Waialae, El Camaleon and Sea Island. Who thrives? Accurate tee-to-green merchants who ride the breeze rather than fight it.
Dustin Johnson says of the test: “You use every club in your bag. You’ve got to hit all different types of shots. You’ve got to shape it around here. It’s tree-lined. You just really have to golf your ball. Small greens. You hit a lot of greens, you’re going to play good.”
And Luke Donald, who has landed no less than seven top three finishes there, added, of who it suits: “The guys that can scramble well and have good course management. It’s not a course you need to be a long hitter. Certain holes it helps, obviously, but the long hitters, it’s taking driver out of their hands a lot. So I feel like the playing field is leveled out.”
The weather forecast for Hilton Head, South Carolina is not ideal. The temperatures will be in the low 70s, but the breezes are likely to stay just that, perhaps 15mph at most. In an ideal world a little more wind at least once in the week would allow the course to play as it is designed. The real threat is rain (especially Friday and Sunday) and scattered thunderstorms (again, Friday and Sunday). Remember, however, that forecasts often struggle to nail seaside locations with the wind – expect more than predicted.
Past Winners of The RBC Heritage
Down the years the notion that some players really, really like this course has been proved with a list of repeat winners. Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Hubert Green, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller kicked off that trend in the 1970s and 80s. They are stellar names and hint that when golf was more about shaping the ball, the elite thrived here.
Payne Stewart and Davis Love III maintained that trend in the 90s, but the tide was turning. Into the 21st century the world’s finest were big-hitters and they struggled here. They also knew their skill-set was impaired and often stayed away. Instead, Boo Weekley and Jim Furyk became two-time winners and the names of other champions hardens the notion of what sort of player contends.
Carl Pettersson, Graeme McDowell and Branden Grace were European Tour raiders with seaside/links pedigree; Brandt Snedeker, Brian Gay, Matt Kuchar and Wesley Bryan have neat games and sharp scrambling skills; Webb Simpson last year finally got the win he had been hinting at for years. Before him Satoshi Kodaira and CT Pan pulled off surprise wins for Asia.
Last year witnessed a superb victory for Stewart Cink. It was a glorious march to a third tartan jacket (and also a second win of the season). He barely missed a green in a stellar long game exhibition that left the field floundering and we were on him, picked for his course prowess, his decent form, and his uncanny ability to thrive the week after a major championship.
The skill set required is clear: the ability to hit fairways rather than seek length from the tee, followed by the capacity to then find small greens, and also a decent short game because, unless replicating Cink last year, many will be missed. Putts will need to drop, but here’s the thing: With small greens, if they are found, there will be birdie opportunities. Add in blustery wind and Bermuda grass, and we’re looking at golfers who perform in similar conditions very well. So, good course form, plus promise at the likes of El Camaleon, Waialae, Sea Island. Also PGA National and Innisbrook. Those who contend in the Masters don’t have a great record here. It’s not impossible for them to play well, but be wary.
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The RBC Heritage
|A list||M. Fitzpatrick||$9,500|
|B list||W. Simpson||$8,800|
|B list||K. Kisner||$8,100|
|Deep dive||A. Svensson||$6,400|
Matt Fitzpatrick ($9,500) For some time the Englishman has been turning up at Hilton Head and reminding everyone that he used to vacation on the island and consequently loves the course. That was all well and good, but he didn’t exactly use the course knowledge to his advantage. It was odd because he seems a very natural fit so it was a relief for him when he finished T–14 in 2018 and 2020, and T–4 last year. That’s now four cuts in a row and five top 40s in seven starts. In 2022 he has five top 15 finishes from six strokeplay starts. Very solid.
Webb Simpson ($8,800) Owing to a sluggish start to the season we get a real course expert at a lower salary than normal. Like Kuchar, he missed the cut on his tournament debut (in his case in 2009) but since then? 11 straight weekends made, eight top 20s, playoff defeat in 2013, and victory in 2020. He hasn’t been outside the top 20 since 2016. Indicated last week that his game is trending inthe right direction.
Kevin Kisner ($8,100) He’s missed his last two cuts at the tournament, but such is his suitability we can overlook it. No record is perfect. In all, he’s made six cuts in nine starts with playoff defeat in 2015, T–7 in 2018 and T–11 in 2017 the highlights. He is also a four-time top five finisher at Waialae and five-time top seven finisher at Sea Island (including victory in 2015). He’s made four top 10s in 2022 including two in his last four starts.
Maverick McNealy ($7,900) First up? He’s on a run of 20-for-21 when cut hunting. That’s solid. He made the weekend on his tournament debut (after a terrible start) and was T–4 last year. Waialae? T–22 on debut in January. El Camaleon? Three starts, three top 30s, two of them top 12. He’s also been T–11 at PGA National. A neat fit.
Matthew NeSmith ($6,600) It’s a mere few weeks since he led the Valspar Championship by two at halfway ahead of landing T–3. And now he returns to a course where he plays as a member, often alongside Kevin Kisner, a track he won on as an amateur, one his father says is a perfect fit for his accurate long game, and a resort where he proposed to his wife. He was T–33 on debut in 2020 (top 10 through 36 holes) and T–48 last year.
Adam Svensson ($6,400) Top 10s at Waialae and PGA National this year (when hitting lots of greens in regulation) read well for this week. And then there are the locations of two of his Korn Ferry Tour wins. The Abaco Club in the Bahamas and The Landings Club in Georgia are almost comically like this week: resort, by the ocean, flat, windy, tree-lined. Low salary, high potential.
Other Player Options For The RBC Heritage
• Ben Martin was T–3 here in 2014 and he has good form at similar tracks: top 10s in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Florida and the Dominican Republic, the last of those just last month.
• Troy Merritt led here by three after 54 holes in 2015 before slipping back to third and he was T–10 in 2019. He’s on a run of 6-for-7 and was T–4 last time out in Texas.
• Korea’s Si-Woo Kim has played the weekend in 14 of his last 15 strokeplay starts, he lost a playoff here in 2018, and he is two-time winner on Dye tracks.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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