One Particular Harbour
Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Harbour Town Golf Links
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: Tifeagle Bermudagrass with Poa annua; 3,700 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass with perennial ryegrass playing at 1.38”
Water Hazards: 12
Course Architect: Pete Dye (1969)
Winner’s Share: $1,044,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Dates: April 17-20
Notes: 144 players this week with the top 70 and ties making the cut.
This is the 45th edition of the RBC Heritage and all of them have been played at Harbour Town.
Payne Stewart (1989-1990), Davis Love III (1991-92) and Boo Weekley (2007-2008) are the only three players to defend their championship.
Since 1999, five players have made the RBC Heritage their first victory on TOUR. Glen Day (1999), Jose Coceres (2001), Peter Lonard (2005), Aaron Baddeley (2006) and Boo Weekley (2007) broke their maidens here.
Since 1969, the first year, there have only been five players who have won on their first trip around Harbour Town. Arnold Palmer (1969), Bob Goalby (1970), Stewart Cink (2000), Jose Coceres and Boo Weekley comprise this very small club. Experience pays around here!
The highest-winning score is 283 (-1) by Arnold Palmer in 1969. Brian Gay holds the tournament record 264 (-20). He set that in 2009.
Tiger Woods is the only multiple winner on TOUR in 2013.
Rank and File
As of Monday evening, 23 of the top 50 in the OWGR are in the field this week.
Time to exhale! The pressure of the first major is behind us and the TOUR pros! This week, the TOUR moves to the Low Country as Hilton Head Island will be the scene of the 45th RBC Heritage.
Pete Dye put together this tight, tree-lined track back in 1969. He incorporated small greens that are only 3,700 square feet on average. What does that mean? Well, to put this in perspective, the teeing areas are 2,500 square feet on average so the putting surfaces are just 33% bigger! If that’s not a big enough challenge, most of the greens are guarded by intricate, large bunkering systems.
After rolling bentgrass greens two of the last three weeks, the players will have to adjust to bits of Poa annua in the Tifeagle Bermudagrass this week. There’s a reason not many young’uns don’t succeed here and the green complexes are one of those reasons. The other reason is the risk-reward that Harbour Town plays. If you can work your golf ball both directions and have the ability to hit small greens, rewards should follow. Players who spray it off the tee must be able to play from tree-lined fairways; players who spray it to the greens must be able to get up and down from traps and collars. Carl Pettersson led the field in GIR here and was T10 in strokes gained-putting. No wonder why he won by five shots…Billy Mayfair finished T4 and his sand save percentage (90%, nine of ten) kept him alive.
Harbour Town checked in at No. 9 in the most difficult courses on TOUR in 2012. Tight fairways, doglegs, small greens and difficult bunkering will do that. So will the tee shot on the difficult hole No. 18. Don’t let the quiet lighthouse in the background fool you this week. I’ll be looking for experienced guys who can work the ball, paint GIR or are top-level putters. Good shots are rewarded around these parts and rough shots will make you work for par. The average winning score here since 2000 is 13-under-par so players will have to find birdies and avoid bogeys as well.
Let’s see who makes the list.
Top 10, Plus One
Luke Donald: After a T2, T3, second finish before last year’s T37, there is no doubt that Donald enjoys a course where his accuracy around the greens isn’t cancelled out by hitting last out of the fairway each time. Oh, and he’ll be in the fairway. His putter and scrambling skills have come in handy over the last four years and I don’t see this year being much different.
Jim Furyk: In his last seven events at RBC, Furyk has chalked up a WIN, second, fourth and T8. No point in overthinking this one.
Jason Day: Usually his length will be the determining factor in how he does on the weekend but as we saw last weekend at the Masters, his short-game, especially from the bunkers, is pretty tight. Sure, he missed a couple of shorties that possibly cost him the green jacket but I believe he’ll be inspired this week after being so close again at Augusta. He was T9 in his last event here in 2011 and he played quite well at that Masters, too!
Brandt Snedeker: Another tough Sunday at Augusta shouldn’t take the light off his great beginning to 2013 and it should have removed any doubts you might have had about his lingering rib problem. He was the winner here in 2011 and was T17 last year so it’s obvious that playing the Masters the week before is not a bother for Snedeker.
Billy Horschel: After finishing second and T3 in his last two events, Horschel had a chance to recharge his battery last week. He’s made 21 consecutive cuts and he’s 23rd in both ball-striking and strokes gained-putting. His next step is closing one of these out!
Matt Kuchar: After his second top 10 at Augusta in the last two years, Kuchar’s confidence should be flying as we enter spring on TOUR. He has only five rounds over par in his last four tournaments here. He’s also seen eight consecutive weekends on Hilton Head, including the last six in a row.
Jason Dufner: He’s shown signs of life recently after sleep-walking through February. In his last four starts he’s finished T21 or better in three of them. In his last four tournaments at RBC he’s made all four cuts and played half of his 16 rounds in the 60s.
Bill Haas: His record on this course won’t shoot him to the top of this list but he’s quietly bagged five top 10s in 10 events so far in 2013. He’s 6th in GIR and his worst finish in his last four events is T20; the other three were all top 10s.
Graeme McDowell: First on TOUR in scrambling and 13th in strokes gained-putting will make GMAC confident about putting a number up this week. This course will also reward one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball on TOUR.
Stewart Cink: The two-time winner at Harbour Town has played some steady golf over the last six events and will be happy to head to a course that obviously fits his eye. Form and history play here.
Boo Weekley: Another two-time champion who has found a run of form recently, Weekley knows what it takes to win around here and that’s excellent ball-striking. He’s made eight cuts on the bounce and staked two top 10s during that stretch. He was second at another tight course, Innisbrook, back in March.
Webb Simpson: Strangely, it was his iron game that let him down last week at Augusta so he’s getting close to putting it all together. He’s proven, through his victory at the U.S. Open last year that playing tight courses doesn’t bother him. His short game and putting have been moving in the right direction as well. He’s close.
Zach Johnson: I might be reaching here but this was the point in his season last year, after T32 at the Masters, he really turned it on. He finished second here last year and went on to have a great May. He has two top 6 finishes in his last six here. It’s time to fire.
Bo Van Pelt: His T20 finish at Augusta is his best full-field finish since February and he’s had success in his career at this event, including T13, T10 and T3 back in 2010.
Charley Hoffman: Quietly 12th in the all-around ranking, Hoffman has rattled off T20 and T3 in his last two times out in Texas. His T8 finish here last year should move him into most conversations this week.
Tim Clark: He’s nine-for-nine around Harbour Town over the years and wasn’t bothered by the Tiger Woods circus too much on Sunday at the Masters (T11). His steadiness off the tee, experience and steady long-putter will be his advantages this week.
Aaron Baddeley: Five of his seven made cuts this season have resulted in T31 or better so “Badds” hasn’t been that “badds”. Last year was the first year in seven that he didn’t make the cut here. The 2006 champion also has finishes of T10, T2, T21, T22 and T14 before last year’s MC.
Brendon de Jonge: If the TOUR is playing, and he’s eligible, he’s going to be playing! He’s made four in a row here and is No. 9 in ball-striking. You can do much worse this week.
Brian Davis: He’s made the cut in six of seven years at HHI and has hit the top 25 in five of those. He’s still waiting for his break from the Golf Gods after calling a penalty on himself in a playoff against Jim Furyk. He was T6 and T29 in his last two outings on TOUR.
Graham DeLaet: An excellent ball striker and scrambler, in his last 24 rounds, he fired over 73 exactly once.
Charles Howell III: A pair of 68s here last year couldn’t offset a Saturday 77 but CHIII has been playing even better golf in 2013. He is second in scrambling, 12th in strokes gained-putting and 42nd in GIR. If he hits ANY fairways this week, look out!
Brian Gay: He holds the tournament record (-20) and has already found the winner’s circle this season at Humana. This will be his 14th time around the RBC Heritage so he should be quite familiar with the weather and the course this time of year. His putting and short game carries him and this week shouldn’t be any different.
Off the Beaten Path
Either “horse-for-course” or guys off the radar
Ben Crane: He’s off the radar because he’s been MC four times, T64, T65, T11 and T4 this season. Which Crane shows up? The guy who fired 67-68 to finish T4 at SHO would be nice. Crane has made seven straight cuts at Harbour Town including T6 in his last visit in 2011.
Richard Sterne: In three events on TOUR this year he’s finished T17, T12 and T25. He’s seen the course once before and wrapped his Masters week with a tidy 70 on Sunday.
John Rollins: He’s had a nice 18-day break after racking up six top 25s in his first nine events of 2013. He’s 12th on TOUR in ball-striking and sixth in the all-around category. His T20 finish here last year should also jog your memory!
Rory Sabbatini: He’s finished T17, T14 and T8 in his last three here. Horse-for-course.
Tommy Gainey: The South Carolina native may sound tempting this week but he’s missed nine of his last 10 cuts. His form doesn’t suggest taking the leap.
Trevor Immelman: I HAVE FOUND THIS WEEK’S WINNER. He’s missed the cut in four of nine events and his best finish is T38 this season.
Johnson Wagner: MC, T75 and MC in three starts here.
Troy Matteson: 0-5.
Ryan Palmer: He’s 1 out of five with T36.
Rookie of the Week Last Week
I keep an eye on the youngin’s each week to see who is making the most noise.
Sony: Russell Henley WIN
Humana: David Lingmerth P2
Farmers: Brad Fritsch T9
WMPO: James Hahn T16
AT&T: James Hahn T3
NTO: Luke Guthrie T21
WGC-Match Play: Russell Henley 2nd round
Honda: Luke Guthrie 3rd
WGC-Cadillac: Russell Henley T28
Puerto Rico: Jordan Spieth 2nd
Tampa Bay: Jordan Spieth T7; Shawn Stefani T7; Ben Kohles T7
Arnold Palmer: Ben Kohles T14
Shell Houston Open: Robert Streb T22
Valero Texas Open: Ben Kohles T37
Masters: Russell Henley MC (not many to choose from last week!)
SEASON TOTAL: $2,083,350
HTOC: Steve Stricker (2nd; $665,000)
Sony: Charles Howell III (T3; $324,800)
Humana: Tim Clark (MC)
Farmers: Rickie Fowler (T6; $204,350)
WMPO: Jason Dufner (MC)
AT&T Pebble: Hunter Mahan (T16; $94,250)
Northern Trust: Bill Haas (T3; $343,200)
WGC-Match Play: Charl Schwartzel (T33; $46,000)
Honda: Lee Westwood (T9; $156,000)
WGC-Cadillac Championship: Matt Kuchar (T35; $68,500)
Tampa Bay: Jim Furyk (T7; $148,892)
Bay Hill: Sergio Garcia (WD after three rounds)
Shell Houston: Jimmy Walker (T50; $14,838)
Valero: Cameron Tringale (MC)
Masters: Phil Mickelson (T54; $18,320)
RBC Heritage: Luke Donald. Sorry gang. He’s the play this week.
GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge
(I play as “Glass” for all fantasy games)
Mike Glasscott (Rank: 8,093; $8,399,588)
Group 1: Luke Donald
Group 2: Bill Haas
Group 3: Boo Weekley
Group 4: Jerry Kelly
Ryan O’Sullivan (Rank: 6,142; $8,829,254)
Group 1: Jason Dufner
Group 2: Zach Johnson
Group 3: Boo Weekley
Group 4: Ricky Barnes
Ned Brown (Rank: 6,547; $8,730,565) “Pure Spin”
Group 1: Brandt Snedeker
Group 2: Billy Horschel
Group 3: Boo Weekley
Group 4: Camilo Villegas
Rob Bolton (Rank: 12,047; $7,663,766)
Group 1: Brandt Snedeker
Group 2: Bill Haas
Group 3: Charley Hoffman
Group 4: Richard H. Lee
Ned said, “…
Brandt Snedeker-- Last week he returned to the form he had early in the season, with a nice T6 at the Masters. His recent history at the Heritage is sold with a T17 last year and a championship in '11.
Boo Weekley-- It's tempting to go with Bill Haas or Graeme McDowell, but they don't have a strong history here. Instead I'm going with Boo Weekley, who is a two-time champion at the Heritage, and who always seems to play well here.
Bill Haas, Graeme McDowell, Charles Howell III
Jim Furyk-- He was near the top of the leaderboard last week at the Masters, but he didn't play well on the weekend and faded to a T25. His record at the Heritage is very strong with six top 10s in 12 visits, which includes a championship in '10.
Luke Donald-- Donald has played better recently with a T4 in Tampa and a T25 at the Masters. His record here is very good with a T2 in '09, a T3 in '10 and a second place in '11.
Ernie Els-- Played the final round of the Masters in 3-under-par 69 which moved him up to a T13 result. I'm not thrilled he has missed the cut here in his last two starts, but he still overall has six top 10s in 12 career starts.
Matt Kuchar-- He played well at the Masters, but a final round of 1-over-par 73 dropped him into a T8 result. I am down to five starts left with him and I'll try to keep him on the bench if he doesn't get off to a fast start.
Charlie Hoffman, Aaron Baddeley, Carl Pettersson, Zach Johnson, Bo Van Pelt
Jason Day-- Day looked great last week at the Masters and was very much in the mix for his first Major. He skipped the Heritage last year, but in '11 he earned his first top 10 here with a T9 finish.
Billy Horschel--He is a first-timer at the Heritage, but he has been red hot on the TOUR with a T2 at the SHO and a T3 at the VTO.
Jordan Spieth, Harris English, John Rollins, Kevin Stadler
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Ned also provides us with his GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge selections as well!
Points last week: 180
Points this year: 2,462
Overall Ranking: 410 (99th percentile)
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at RBC Heritage and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter.
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