RBC Heritage – Harbour Town, South Carolina
After an enthralling Major Championship, the PGA Tour heads to South Carolina for one of my favourite events of the year, the RBC Heritage. The Heritage has been part of the PGA Tour schedule since 1969 and Harbour Town Golf Links has played host to all 46 renewals.
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A strong field has assembled itself for this year’s renewal, the world number one, Jason Day heads the betting and is followed by Paul Casey and previous winners of this event, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar. Jim Furyk won the 2015 edition of this event, but he won’t be defending his title, because he remains out of action with a wrist injury.
Designed by Pete Dye who was assisted by Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town is one of the tougher venues on the PGA Tour. It’s a coastal links style track and the lack of wind last year saw Jim Furyk and Kevin Kisner reach 18 under par. However, Harbour Town tends to play much tougher and before 2015, no player had shot lower than 14 under par since Brian Gay in 2009. The course is a par 71 that measures 7,101 yards and features tree-lined narrow fairways. Subsequently, there’s a premium on positioning off the tee and as a result the accurate drivers of the ball have a rare advantage around this golf course. Simply take a look at the recent RBC Heritage leaderboards and you’ll notice that accurate drivers of the ball have dominated this event. Over the last three years, every player that has finished inside the top five has finished the year ranked better in driving accuracy than driving distance.
The greens at Harbour Town are Bermuda grass and are some of the smallest on the PGA Tour. A good short game is therefore required to deal with the inevitable missed greens. You’ll notice that the last three winners of this event, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell are all renowned for having excellent short games. Finally, the players that have performed well in this event have generally ranked well in the bogey avoidance statistic. The last three years has seen 16 players tie for 5th or better and eleven of those finished the season they recorded their top 5 finish ranked inside the top 33.33% of players in the bogey avoidance statistic.
Kevin Kisner – Harbour Town is the perfect fit for Kevin Kisner’s game and I was slightly surprised to see odds of 30/1 available. The American’s an accurate driver of the ball, he’s good around and on the greens and also ranks well in bogey avoidance. Furthermore, he grew up playing golf in South Carolina and is accustomed to putting on the grainy Bermuda greens. Last year, Kisner finished in second position in this event, behind Jim Furyk who he lost against in a play-off. Since last year’s event, Kisner has proved to be an excellent player and he notably recorded his first victory on the PGA Tour in November.
Each Way – Bet365 @ 30/1
Ben Martin – Like Kevin Kisner, Ben Martin is playing in his home state this week and he’s produced good results at Harbour Town previously. Martin has played in the RBC Heritage on three occasions and has finished 56th, 3rd and 37th which indicates it’s a good venue for his game. He’s an accurate driver of the ball and has seemingly found some form recently. In Martin’s last four PGA Tour starts, he’s made the cut on each occasion and has recorded finishes of 16th and 12th, thus suggesting that Martin is starting to find some form after a tricky year so far.
Each Way – Bet365 @ 70/1
Scott Brown – Last but not least is another South Carolina resident, Scott Brown. Like my other selections, Brown’s a golfer who should suit what is required around Harbour Town and a tie for 5th place in 2014, suggests it’s a golf course he is capable of winning around. Admittedly, the American made a slow start to the year however he’s showed some good form in recent weeks. In Brown’s last six events, he’s made six consecutive cuts and has recorded three top 10 finishes in that period of time. All in all, I think Scott Brown is a very good bet this week at 80/1 and bigger.
Each Way – BetVictor @ 80/1
Prices correct at time of writing.