The first main of 2021 is within the books and now the PGA TOUR will calm down with a laidback occasion, heading to Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage.
The course is Harbour Town Golf Links and it is one of many extra iconic venues on the PGA TOUR. It’s often known as considerably of a plodder’s paradise and it is simply recognized with the signature lighthouse lurking within the background.
The occasion is bucketed as an “invitational” which implies a smaller subject measurement. The goal for the week is 132 golfers however they overdid the reserving with 135 golfers presently set to peg it this week. That is following the Monday-morning WDs of Bryson DeChambeau and Joel Dahmen. There will not be any alternates added to the sphere until the sphere measurement dips beneath that 132 goal quantity.
As for the cutline line, it returns to the standard PGA TOUR standards which is high 65 and ties after 36 holes performed.
Harbour Town Golf Links has performed host right here because the inaugural 1969 version. It was initially a 6,657 yard take a look at however now performs proper round 7,121 yards as a par 71. Length has by no means been one of many course defenses.
This closely tree-lined Pete Dye design will typically drive golfers to hit irons and woods (lower than driver) off the tee. When you discuss a position-based course, this is likely one of the first that involves thoughts. Even for those who hit the green it’s possible you’ll discover your strategy shot blocked by overhanging bushes.
Creativity turns into a key attribute as a result of everybody will discover themselves in a number of sticky conditions over the course of the week at Harbour Town. Some will take their drugs and settle for bogey. Others will showcase that creativity and pull off some miracle birdies or par saves. Lastly, some golfers will try these artistic photographs however solely dig themselves in a deeper gap once they do not execute.
The take a look at will get even more durable while you issue within the inexperienced sizes. At a median of three,700 sq. ft, they’re a number of the smallest targets on TOUR. In truth, that is the important thing attribute that reveals up when crossover success between the Heritage and different PGA TOUR venues. More on that within the Correlated Courses part. That means golfers will miss loads of greens this week but when they do land the greens then they possible have a very good have a look at birdie.
The course sometimes supplies a troublesome scoring setting however a June date in 2020 noticed the sphere go low. The subject scoring common was almost two photographs below par and the Webb Simpson finally gained the occasion by reaching 22-under, the bottom successful rating on this occasion’s complete historical past, and simply the second time the winner had reached 20-under or higher. I personally assume that was a product of the June date and COVID-19 insurance policies stopping the grounds crew from doing their regular prep within the lead-up.
Speaking of the June date, one main change in April this yr would be the return to overseeded situations. Last yr the sphere noticed pure bermuda from wall-to-wall however this time across the lead-up climate has not been sort to bermuda development. They will see ryegrass overseed from tee-to-green and poa trivialis on the placing surfaces. The goal stimp is 11.5 ft which is round TOUR-average speeds.
Sifting by some previous quotes, let’s attempt to break down the course to see the way it will play.
Luke Donald: “the guys that can scramble well and have good course management, it’s not a course you need to be a long hitter. Certain holes it helps, obviously, but the long hitters, it’s taking driver out of their hands a lot. So I feel like the playing field’s leveled out.”
Jim Furyk: “Long or short, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about do you like to shape the ball, and can you imagine some different shots, and do you find that style of golf fun?”
Webb Simpson: “The fairways really do pinch in as we get closer to the green, so guys have to lay back to the wider part of the fairway. I think guys will be shocked here that you can drive it in the fairway and be blocked out to the green or blocked out to that side of the green where the pin is on. So there’s plenty of holes here where we look at the pin sheet before we tee off because we’re aiming at the right side of the fairway or left side of the fairway, which I don’t know if we have any of those golf courses on the TOUR.”
Wesley Bryan: “It’s not overly long. You have a fair amount of short and mid-irons in out here. The par-3s are really tough. So you’ve got to be really precise with your irons. And traditionally the guy that putts the best out here usually has a lot of success. “
Sam Saunders: “I’ve always enjoyed golf courses where if you hit a shot into the trees you have an opportunity to curve the ball. And I love that there’s not long rough here. Even if you’re stuck behind some trees you have a chance to peel one through the trees or hit a big high cut or low hook. It makes it fun, because I feel like there’s always an opportunity to recover from an errant shot here.”
Looking at grass sorts, geography, course attributes, and previous efficiency, listed below are a number of programs/occasions that I feel might show to be a very good pointer this week:
Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course
A significant theme of those programs is inexperienced measurement. Most of those programs have tiny targets which implies around-the-green play and when you attain the greens you might be in all probability going to have a fairly good have a look at the opening. Not too many lag putts.
Thursday: Light rain with a excessive of 77 levels. Winds at 7 to 14 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a excessive of 70 levels. Winds at 5 to 10 MPH.
There is a few early-week rain to dodge however seems fairly regular in any other case with temps within the higher 60s and low 70s for a lot of the week. Playing on the coast, winds can at all times change into and challenge so hold an eye fixed out for the wind numbers because the occasion attracts nearer and the wind forecast will get extra dependable.
Golfers to Watch
If Simpson ever will get into course structure, I might think about his programs being modeled after Harbour Town and different classical designs. “Yeah, this is one of my favorite golf courses of the year. I feel like it’s a little bit thrown back in time with the way the golf course is. It’s really a shot maker’s golf course. I love that about it.” The outcomes match up, as properly, as he is entered the ultimate spherical positioned T13 or higher in every of his final 4 Heritage appearances.
DJ light on Friday to overlook the reduce final week in his tried Masters title protection. Johnson’s sport was shaky within the lead-up and he is now hit fewer greens than the sphere in three straight stroke-play occasions. Next up he heads to a course that considerably mutes his energy. Will that assist him focus and discover his sport or will it’s one other early trunk slam? He was the 54-hole chief right here in 2019 earlier than fading with a closing 77 to complete T28.
The Englishman has known as this considered one of his favourite programs on TOUR for years now however the outcomes did not match up in his first three journeys (T23-MC-MC). He’s rattled off high 15s in two of his final three appearances so the outcomes are beginning to line up along with his quotes. He arrives with high 20s in six of his final seven worldwide occasions.
It’s a home-state occasion for him this week. He misplaced in a playoff right here in 2015 and calls this considered one of his favourite programs on TOUR. “I love it here. It’s probably the top three on Tour for me. Every year I come I love this weather, love in atmosphere. I just feel like it’s a great shot maker’s course. You can be in the fairway and have to carve shots into the pin. It kind of suits my game. I love to see the picture and try to hit the shots.”
The subject is surprisingly deep this week which implies the rankings acquired robust for me when trying on the names after the highest 15 or so. There are dozens of golfers that deserve a point out however did not discover the highest 20. Perhaps meaning it is a good week to focus on the mid-range on the betting board or DFS wage sheet? Grace is an effective instance because the long-term stats do not put him within the highest 20 for me however he is flashed his outdated sport currently and he is a previous champ at Harbour Town (2016).
Another title with an extended checklist of fine outcomes at this occasion. Gamers might want to resolve whether or not they belief his efficiency on the WGC-Match Play as an indication of his return to kind or whether or not final week’s missed reduce on the Masters proves the WGC outcome was only a one-off. Kuchar is 16-for-17 on the Heritage with a win and 5 different high 10s on his resume.
Ranking the Field
1. Webb Simpson
2. Tyrrell Hatton
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Daniel Berger
6. Patrick Cantlay
7. Will Zalatoris
8. Corey Conners
9. Russell Henley
10. Abraham Ancer
11. Cameron Smith
12. Paul Casey
13. Sergio Garcia
14. Si Woo Kim
15. Collin Morikawa
16. Tommy Fleetwood
17. Patton Kizzire
18. Ian Poulter
19. Kevin Kisner
20. Brian Harman