I'm no writer but I do enjoy writing on my day off about golf which conveniently is on Wednesday's, the day before golf tournaments start. I also find it helpful for working through my research and breaking down players. Follow me on Twitter (@TheFav_orite) and instagram (@Advantage_U) for more content. - M.Luke Flagg
Imagine being the golf tournament after the Masters? I don’t know how they manage to follow that up every year but someone has to. “The tournament after the Masters” has another name and it’s the RBC Heritage or just The Heritage. It’s played at Harbour Town Link Golf course on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, which many consider the golf capital of America. This tournament has always had a laid back resort life vibe to it, which makes sense after all the hoopla that comes with Augusta. The location itself Is a draw for some of the bigger names that maybe considering taking the week off, you’ll see a lot of guys bring the family along as it’s a great vacation destination. Which is nice but I'm looking for the golfer(s) that have no family and are down there for one reason only and that’s to win a golf tournament.
Much of my course knowledge at Harbour Town comes from playing Tiger Woods PGA 09 on PlayStation 2. I always picked TPC Boston or Harbour Town links course because of the driveable par 4’s and the famous lighthouse on 18. David Frost (1994) and Troy Merritt's (2015) 18 hole course record of 61 was shattered several times. I know every break and contour on those tiny Bermuda greens and honestly feel I’d be a great caddy on this course if carrying the bag and walking wasn’t a job requirement. The average winning score the past 50yrs at RBC Heritage is 11 under par, without me on the bag.
Harbour Town is one of the many famous Pete Dye designs, it’s a par 71 and not very long with a total length of 7,100 yards. Definitely not a bombers course but rather a shot shapers course. Accuracy off the tee is a must with the very narrow tree lined fairways, rough is not an issue this week but expect bad shots off the tee to run through the fairways into the tree line. The run ups to the green and around the greens are link style which is a bit different as players are accustomed to chipping and pitching out of rough, you’ll see perfectly mowed chipping surfaces which typically result in some highlight chip ins. The big X factor at The Heritage is always the wind, the coastal breeze is sure to be an issue, we want low ball strikers here, so stay clear of guys with an average apex of 120 plus feet. Link for average shot height on tour > https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.02407.html
Unlike Augusta and the Masters last week where course history is a major factor to success, it’s not really a factor at Harbour Town, the past 3 winners were all event first timers. Smart golfers that play the hole green to tee will have success. We will see a lot of wedges and short irons into these small greens but in order to hold these green those shots need to be coming from the fairways. Really it’s the same old, you have to hit good shots in order to win but when deciding who to bet on it’s good to consider the small things, it can’t hurt. Below are some of my bets this weekend.
Last week I broke even and had a real shot on Sunday to cash the outright winner until a gust from the gods turned away Tony Finau’s chances on 12. Same could be said for Brooks Koepka and Molinari backers. The Jason Day top 10 finish at +275 helped and Justin Rose missing the cut hurt but it’s all in the past. Onto the next.
Patrick Cantlay -115 over Bryson DeChambeau: Had Cantlay last week over Cameron Smith and it was a no doubter. He’s in top form, #1 in par 4 scoring, the last 4 winners at Heritage have been T-2 or better in par 4 scoring. He’s finished T-7 2018 and T-3 2017 and was -20 during that span. Looking for a carry over from the Masters, If only he didn’t run out of holes Sunday at Augusta, went eagle, birdie, birdie, par on his way in.
Si-Woo Kim -105 Over Marc Leishman: Kim is last years runner up at Heritage and he already has 4 top 10’s this year. Leishman is normally a guy I look to back most weeks but with only one top 25 (T-9 2013) on his resume at Harbour Town I think this tournament is a bye week for him. I bet he brings his wife and kids.
Kevin Kisner +275: The good ole native boy from Aiken South Carolina is always in the mix at RBC Heritage, 3 T-11 or better in last 3 of last 4 starts. Great Bermuda greens putter, accurate off the tee. Love him this week and most likely will throw a bit on him to win outright this week.
Ryan Armour +750: I’m not a very big numbers guy as I’m sure some of you can tell, but numbers alone Ryan Armour is tailored made for Harbour Town, he's third in fairways hit, 11th in proximity and 18th in scrambling. Low ball striker that can navigate windy weekends. Only downside is at 43 years old he’s likely a family man but hopefully this is a business trip for him and not a family vacation.
To win the tournament
As of writing this I haven’t made an official outright winner bet but a few guys I’ve narrowed down that I believe are worth a shot are...
Byeong Hun An - 40/1 , Branden Grace - 40/1 , Ryan Moore - 50/1 , Ian Poulter - 30/1 , Kevin Kisner - 25/1. Not a big fan of betting outright winners as I feel there are better positions to get money down but it’s the thrill of the chase for that bingo jackpot.
(Probably more to come as this tournament seems to get some late WDs, something to pay close attention to.)
- Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Trainer, Sung Kang, John Huh