RBC Heritage Matchups: Ride with Morikawa

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Patrick McDonald
·4 min read
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We are less than a day away from the start of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, but as the great Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend.” A full week on the PGA Tour would not be complete without at least a few matchup bets.

These matchup bets present a great opportunity to put your running theories to the test. Will Harbour Town play similar to last June? Will the free falls of Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay continue? Can Will Zalatoris contend once again and finally secure his PGA Tour card with a victory?

For a tournament that is supposed to be a “major hangover,” I reckon there are plenty of intriguing storylines to keep us occupied until the real “Sunday scaries” kick in. Here are a few 72-hole matchup bets that caught my eye and will hopefully be settled by the time the cut is finalized Friday evening.

Head-to-Head Matchups (Odds via PointsBet Sportsbook):

Collin Morikawa (-105) over Webb Simpson: I love Morikawa this week, there’s no beating around the bush. The precision with his irons should suit Harbour Town extremely well. That combined with his ability to find fairways from off the tee makes it difficult to envision Morikawa getting into any real trouble. Yes, the putting can be questionable at times, but I'm hoping that his ball-striking will carry most of the weight.

It’s always risky betting against the defending champion. This more so has to do with my conviction of Morikawa and less so of completely fading Simpson, but there are surely doubts about the status Simpson’s game. His ball-striking has been touch-and-go for the past couple of months. A wizard from around the greens and trusty with his putter, Simpson doesn’t necessarily need to strike the ball well in order to contend. What that said, this matchup essentially comes down to Morikawa’s ball-striking versus Simpson’s short game. There aren’t many instances where you’ll find me betting against Morikawa’s irons and this won’t be one of them.

Patrick Cantlay (-110) over Dustin Johnson: In this matchup we have two premiere players both heading in the wrong direction. Here’s to hoping a change a scenery and a return to a historically fruitful course is what Cantlay needs to steady the ship. He’s been unbelievable when teeing it up at Harbour Town. In his three appearances, he has two third-place finishes to go along with a seventh-place finish. The form that we are used to seeing out of Cantlay will eventually come back and there isn’t a course better suited for his return to form than Harbour Town.

As for Johnson, he has looked lackadaisical over the past month. Obviously, that’s being a bit harsh, but it’s hard not to compare Johnson to his former self of this past summer when it seemed like he won whenever he decided to tee it up. One week, the driver looks bad, then it’s the irons, and then it’s the putter. He just can’t seem to get the whole bag to cooperate for four days straight. I’m nitpicking, yes, but with Johnson you have to. History shows that he struggles around the greens at Harbour Town and that may just be enough for Cantlay to squeak by him.

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Abraham Ancer (+100) over Matthew Fitzpatrick: If Si Woo Kim is considered the Pete Dye specialist, then Ancer is hot on his heels. While his recent finishes haven’t been anything to write home about, you can see his game slowly coming together, specifically his putter. Typically, a weakness of his, the putter looked solid at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club, another Pete Dye design. He carried the momentum over to the Valero Texas Open, where he gained nearly four strokes putting. If he can do something similar this week, I like Ancer to not only win this matchup, but also possibly contend.

While Ancer has struggled with his putter, Fitzpatrick has been relying on his maybe too much. His recent run of quality finishes, which includes three top-10's in his last five starts, has been on the shoulders of his putter. In two of those finishes, he lost strokes on approach for the week, most notably at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he lost nearly four strokes with his irons. If he brings that type of iron play to Harbour Town, Fitzpatrick could be in for some trouble that not even his putter can bail him out of.

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