While Bubba Watson heads home with his second Green Jacket to celebrate his amazing Masters Tournament victory the rest of the players on tour head 200 kilometres south to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
This week’s tournament is the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links where the players will fight it out for a different colour jacket. This one is Plaid and is presented to the winner of the tournament. Harbour Town Golf Links is a Par 71, 6,973 yard course with 145 bunkers and water coming into play on nine of the holes. There are also three Par 5’s.
The course was designed by renowned golf course architect Peter Dye with the help of Jack Nicklaus in 1969. Peter has designed other famous courses like Whistling Straits and Sawgrass which is famous for its island green 17th hole. The RBC Heritage is one of only 5 tournaments on the PGA Tour that is given invitational status. The field will consist of 132 players unlike other events, which has the standard 156.
The tournament has been played one week after the Masters since 1983 and the record of -20 was set in 2009 by Brian Gay. Many great players have had success here such as Arnold Palmer who won the inaugural event back in 1969. Hale Irwin won his first ever PGA Tour event here in 1971 then in 1994 he had his third victory in this tournament which was also his twentieth over all and also his last ever PGA Tour win. Another player to record his first ever tour victory here was Nick Faldo in 1984.
The bookies Top 5 in betting this week are:- 16/1 Jordan Spieth, 18/1 Luke Donald, 18/1 Matt Kuchar, 20/1 Jim Furyk and 22/1 Zach Johnson. Spieth is coming off a 2nd at The Masters last week while Kuchar was 5th.
Last years Champion Graeme McDowell (25/1) is back to defend his title along with other past winners such as Brian Gay 100/1, Boo Weekley 80/1, Aaron Baddeley 100/1, Stewart Cink 80/1 and Justin Leonard 150/1. Other notable players teeing it up include Harris English, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas.
The course has tight fairways and some of the smallest greens on the tour. Ball placement is one of the crucial elements required for victory here. It is not a course for hitting it far and hard. Precision players always fair better than those that go for length. Shot shaping will take you a long way at Harbour Town. Putting and hitting greens is also paramount along with scrambling. All past winners have rated highly in scrambling for the week.
Looking at the field this week there are two players who rate well in the above mentioned stats and should be in contention over the weekend.
Billy Horschel 50/1
Last year was Billy’s break through season the PGA Tour where he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as well as recording seven Top 10 finishes. This year Horschel is flying under the radar with seven made cuts from ten starts which have produced four Top 25 finishes.
This week he is back to a course that saw him finish 9th last year when on debut. Harbour Town is a course that should see Billy back to his best as it suits his game down to the ground and this could be the week he shows the form we know he has.
Entering this week he is coming off a 37th place finish at The Masters where he was -10 on the Par 5’s. This week he has three of them to enjoy. He also hit 72% of greens in regulation last week.
In this tournament last year he played the Par 5’s at 7 under par. His stats this year have him ranked 16th in driving accuracy, 16th in greens in regulation, 8th in total driving and 3rd in ball striking,
At 50/1 this could be the week we strike a winner at great each way value.
Kevin Na 33/1
Kevin last won on tour in 2011 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A back injury saw him out of the game for 20 weeks last year and he only managed to contest 13 tournaments.
This year he is back big and better than ever with 7 made cuts from 8 starts which has produced 6 top 20 finishes!
His last three tournaments read as 2nd, 14th and 11th. this will be his tenth start at the RBC Heritage where he has already had five Top 20’s. His two most recent results were 9th and 8th.
Stats wise he is ranked 15th in strokes gained putting, 20th in birdie average, 7th in scoring average, 2nd in scrambling and 7th in Par 4 birdie or better average.
Now that his back is well and truly fixed we can expect to see the real Kevin Na stand up this week and continue his impressive recent results here.
Good luck and good punting.