The PGA TOUR will chill out in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week at the RBC Heritage, as Branden Grace returns to Harbour Town Golf Links as the defending champion. This tournament in the South Carolina Low Country is a favorite stop for many due to the relaxed atmosphere, falling the week after the stress of the season’s first major.
Harbour Town Golf Clinks is an early Pete Dye design, tipping out at a mere 7,099 yards and playing to a par of 71. While it clearly lacks length, it more than makes up for it with tight fairways and extremely small putting surfaces. As is the trademark of many great courses, there are numerous types of players that tend to top the leaderboard.
Historically, the leaderboard tends to favor either very good ball-strikers, or extremely solid putters. Due to the size of the greens, putting stats can be skewed this week. Another trait of a great golf course, this this tournament tends to produce very respectable winners dating back to the earliest days of this tournament. That means it would be very unlikely for a random winner to emerge this week. In fact, it’s the case of late that the winner of the RBC Heritage played in the Masters the week prior.
Patience is required here. This is anything but a bomb-and-gauge layout. Birdie opportunities exist, but normally when a player puts himself in position off the tee and hits a nice short iron.
This is very much a course-history tournament, as Harbour Town must be embraced and understood. If you are looking for a few potential key stats, consider Proximity and SG:Putting. A combination of the two would be quite deadly, but one or the other must exist for success this week. It’s also wise to consider Scrambling, as hitting 12 GIR per round around this track would be quite acceptable.
With that as the backdrop, here we go!
1. Matt Kuchar – It’s been a little bit of a slow start for Kuchar this season, but he thrust himself into contention late on Sunday at the Masters with an ace on the par-3 16th. His last three trips to Hilton Head have produced a win-5-T9 run. He’s also a really smart golfer that knows how to navigate Harbour Town. That he’s won here before is a plus, as there are numerous examples of players with multiple wins in this event.
2. Branden Grace – Improved on a T7 in 2015 with a win in his sophomore trip to the RBC Heritage. Grace has successfully defended a title before overseas, so don’t make the mistake of expecting a big fade.
3. Luke Donald – There aren’t many tracks where Donald is still relevant as a top-tier fantasy play, but this is one of them. He tied for second here last year, which goes in the books as his sixth top-three finish in 11 tries. Perhaps this is the year he nabs his first win at Harbour Town.
4. Jim Furyk – The veteran has made 14 of his 17 cuts here, with two wins. His last win was in 2015, which just so happens to be his most recent trip here. This has not been a great year for Furyk to date, but this is the kind of course that would render his current form a little less relevant than most.
5. Russell Henley – Been a little feast-or-famine here, making two of four cuts but with both going for top 25s. His best was a T6 in 2013. The winner at the Shell Houston Open looked solid at Augusta National, so if his stamina is strong enough, he should play well.