RBC Heritage Betting Tips: 6 selections including a 150/1 chance at Harbour Town
Just two months ago, Scottie Scheffler was a talented but ultimately winless PGA Tour player. Even with the cliched “Once they win one, they’ll win plenty more” notion, I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted just how relentlessly he’d carry on winning in the immediate aftermath of his breakthrough win at the Phoenix Open.
In his next five starts he’s won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, then transcended to number one in the world thanks to his victory at the WGC – Matchplay. Though exceeded all else he’d done in those previous five starts last week at Augusta National, winning The Masters on a fascinating Sunday, in which an exhilarating final round 64 from Rory McIlroy was not enough to deny the hottest golfer on the planet right now. Scheffler in the process putting together a collection of victories enough to satisfy most golfers in their entire career, let alone in a 2-month, 4 wins in 6 starts stretch.
I’m excited to see how long Scheffler can keep this incredible run going and after suspecting he would run out of steam long before his win on Sunday evening, it would be foolish to bet against him adding further titles to his resume this season.
Onto this week’s event and though not the high profile, elite event of last week, we head to one of the most popular venues on the PGA Tour, Harbour Town Golf Links for the RBC Heritage. An event that has its roots in 1969 and has always taken place here at Harbour Town, holding this immediate post-Masters spot since 1983, barring the Covid impacted 2020 season.
RBC Heritage Tips
- Billy Horschel 40/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1.25 pts ew
- Siwoo Kim 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
- Matt Kuchar 60/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Adam Hadwin 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Kevin Na 55/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Brendon Todd 150/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 1 pt ew
Harbour Town Golf Links is a 7121-yard par 71, designed by Pete Dye with the help of Jack Nicklaus. Most fairways are tree-lined, though there’s a good mix of more claustrophobic driving holes and holes where you have a little more room off-the-tee. Despite the large, overhanging trees creating the impression that it’s hard to find fairways here, it actually ranks about average on the PGA Tour for difficulty in finding the fairways. Though there is plenty of water in-play around the course, as well as plenty of typically penal Pete Dye bunkers.
Strategy off-the-tee here is generally more important than simply finding fairways, four of the last six winners at Harbour Town ranked outside the top 50 for driving accuracy on the week, with Satoshi Kodaira in 2018 the only one to rank inside the top 10, in 4th. Some shots from off the fairways can give, you a better angle into these small, tricky putting surfaces. Providing you aren’t too wayward.
Said greens are amongst some of the toughest to find on tour. They’re small, undulating and are abound with run-off areas. This has put a huge importance on strong approach play at Harbour Town.
Of those last six winners, nobody ranked worse than 28th in approach for the week, that man being Branden Grace in 2016. Four ranked inside the top 10, with Stewart Cink last year and Wesley Bryan in 2017 both ranking 2nd when they won.
With greens difficult to find it’s no surprise to see quality scrambling also being key. None of those six winners ranked worse than 27th in this area, with three ranking inside the top 5, Wesley Bryan 1st in 2017, Branden Grace 3rd in 2016 and Stewart Cink 4th last year.
HARD TO FOLLOW THE MASTERS?
The week before and after a major is often an interesting one and throws up unusual results. Harbour Town has been no different and the event has been a bit of a graveyard for people who have come here off the back of good performances at Augusta.
In the last 10 years, just three golfers have managed a top 3 finish here after a top 10 at Augusta. Matt Kuchar actually won here in 2014 following an excellent 5th place finish at The Masters, with Patrick Cantlay the only other player to match this criteria, when finishing 3rd in 2019 following a 9th place finish in The Masters.
Of these last 10 winners, three missed the cut in The Masters the week before, Graeme McDowell in 2013, Jim Furyk in 2015 and Branden Grace in 2016. With three of them not event teeing it up at Augusta, Carl Petersson in 2012, Wesley Bryan in 2017 and C.T Pan in 2019.
And aside from Matt Kuchar in 2014, the only other winners to make the cut at The Masters were Kodaira in 2018, who finished 28th and Cink last year, who finished 12th.
The rest of the top 3 finishers in these years are littered with players who either missed the cut at Augusta or didn’t play at all.
Full list below (Masters Finish):
2021: 1st Stewart Cink (12th) - 2nd Emiliano Grillo (DNP) - 3rd Harold Varner III (DNP)
2020: N/A (Didn’t follow The Masters due to changed schedule because of the pandemic)
2019: 1st C.T Pan (DNP) – 2nd Matt Kuchar (12th) – 3rd Scott Piercy (DNP), Patrick Cantlay (9th), Shane Lowry (MC)
2018: 1st Satoshi Kodaira (28th) – 2nd Siwoo Kim (24th) – 3rd Bryson DeChambeau (38th), Luke List (DNP)
2017: 1st Wesley Bryan (DNP) – 2nd Luke Donald (DNP) – 3rd Ollie Schniederjans (DNP), Will McGirt (22nd), Patrick Cantlay (DNP)
2016: 1st Branden Grace (MC) – 2nd Russell Knox (MC), Luke Donald (DNP)
2015: 1st Jim Furyk (MC) – 2nd Kevin Kisner (DNP) – 3rd Troy Merritt (DNP)
2014: 1st Matt Kuchar (5th) – 2nd Luke Donald (MC) – 3rd Ben Martin (DNP), Jon Huh (MC)
2013: 1st Graeme McDowell (MC) – 2nd Webb Simpson (MC) – 3rd Kevin Streelman (MC), Luke Donald (25th)
2012: 1st Carl Petersson (DNP) – 2nd Zach Johnson (32nd) – 3rd Colt Knost (DNP)
*DNP – Did Not Participate
St Jude Invitational @ TPC Southwind
Both courses provide a very similar level of difficulty tee-to-green. With greens tough to hit at both, fairways of a similarly average level of difficulty to find and the percentages of players getting up and down also similar.
Webb Simpson often ties many of these courses together and has form at both, finishing 2nd at St Jude in 2018. With last year’s St Jude winner Abraham Ancer possessing good form at Harbour Town. Daniel Berger franking the link further, as a two-time winner at TPC Southwind and has a good record at Harbour Town, possessing a 3rd place finish to his name.
Texas Open @ TPC San Antonio
I commented in my Texas Open preview that I liked Harbour Town as a link there, so the same applies in reverse. Again, like above, they play very similar tee-to-green, statistically speaking.
Even looking at that one leaderboard, in winner JJ Spaun, we have a player who has finished 6th here at Harbour Town. A runner-up in, in Matt Kuchar who has one of the best records at Harbour Town, winning there in 2014. With 4th place finisher two weeks ago, Troy Merrit possessing a 3rd place finish at Harbour Town.
Valspar Championship @ Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)
The Valspar asks similar questions though in most aspects is slightly more difficult than Harbour Town, particular in the ball-striking categories. Though they both rank amongst some of the easiest courses on tour in which to get it up and down.
Luke Donald has an exceptional record at Harbour Town and is a winner at Innisbrook. Whilst Jim Furyk has tasted victory at both courses. Webb Simpson, Kevin Na and Kevin Streelman are amongst the players to tie the form at both courses in further.
Sony Open @ Waialae Country Club
Short, windy course by the coast. It’s no surprise to see plenty of form-ties between Waialae Country Club and Harbour Town. Fairways are similarly difficult to find and scrambling offers a comparable level of difficulty.
Matt Kuchar has tasted victory at both venues. Whilst players such as Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and Russell Henley are amongst a huge amount of players to possess form at both courses.
Mayakoba Classic @El Camaleon Country Club
As another narrow, tree-lined venue the Mayakoba Classic ranks almost identical to Harbour Town off-the-tee and also provides a similar level of difficulty in finding the greens when missing the fairway.
Matt Kuchar franks the form again, as a winner at both venues. With players such as Brendon Todd, JJ Spaun, Harold Varner and C.T Pan all possessing form at both courses.
Being situated on the Atlantic Coast, this event can often be at the mercy of the weather. As of now, there is set to be some breeze around for the week, though not too strong, with Thursday potentially producing the trickiest conditions.
As always, this can change and more severe conditions could yet arise. So it is always sensible to consider if players can perform in windy conditions in these kinds of events.
There’s been a noticeable increase in field strength over recent years of the RBC Heritage and we are once again graced with the presence of a number of the world’s best players.
Five of the world’s top 10 will tee it up at Harbour Town, with world #2, Collin Morikawa the highest ranked player in the field and is joined by Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.
Whilst last year’s champion Stewart Cink returns to defend his title and former #1 amateur in the world, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya will be looking to emulate the achievement of his compatriot, Satoshi Kodaira in 2018, on his first spin around Harbour Town.
Justin Thomas heads the market at 11/1, though it’s Collin Morikawa who appeals the most of those at the top, at 14/1. He’s much less erratic than JT off-the-tee and has been the best iron player on the planet the last couple of years.
However he, like JT, DJ, Smith etc, were all up near the top at Augusta last week and with the generally underwhelming record of those who feature heavily there when coming here, I’m not really interested in getting involved right at the very top of the market.
That being said, I don’t want to entirely dismiss players who played the weekend at Augusta and thus, my stake is split between players who indeed played all four rounds last week and those who didn’t play at all, starting with Billy Horschel.
Billy produced a lowkey 43rd place finish at Augusta last week but still managed to catch the eye thanks to continuing to show the type of quality in his approach play we’ve seen from him recently.
He ranked 12th in approach for the week, with a couple of standout performances both on Friday, where he gained +3.22 strokes in approach and ranked 4th for the day and it is what helped him sign off with his best round of the week in round four on Sunday, where he ranked 6th, gaining +2.13 strokes.
This has indeed contributed heavily to Horschel’s excellent early season form. He started the year off with strong 23rd, 36th and 11th place finishes, managing to do this with every part of his game firing, except his irons. He then showed a noticeable upturn in approach play when finishing 6th at the Phoenix Open.
From there, he’s since ranked 5th in approach in both his 16th place finish in the Honda Classic and 2nd place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Even producing some quality approach play before withdrawing in THE PLAYERS Championship.
Horschel has a good record here at the RBC Heritage. In nine visits he’s only missed two cuts and recorded two top 10 finishes, when 9th on debut in 2013 and was 5th in 2018. He typically finds the course suits his eye tee-to-green and though initially struggling on the putting surfaces, has produced much better performances on these greens over the last four years.
In addition to this is some encouraging correlating form. Horschel has five top 10s to his name in the St Jude Invitational, two 3rd place finishes and a 4th in the Texas Open, a generally strong record including two top 10s in the Mayakoba Classic and has also hit the top 10 in the Sony Open.
Billy has been in excellent form this year, with every part of his game firing. Though he failed to really show up at The Masters last week, it was encouraging to see the approach play still in good shape and he can make up for that underwhelming performance here at Harbour Town.
Siwoo Kim finished in a similar position to Horschel last week in The Masters, in 39th. However he looked likely to go much better at one point and with the approach play continuing to show signs of life, comes here as a lively contender in an event he’s already finished as runner-up before.
Siwoo is actually at his best off-the-tee and around-the-greens, though rather strangely it was these areas of his game that failed to fire last week, whilst his putter did most of the heavy lifting, with some help from his irons.
This showing a player who has all areas of his game in pretty good condition so far this year and it’s this that has enabled him to enjoy a strong start to the year.
Siwoo hasn’t missed a cut in 2022, a run which actually covers his last 12 events and goes back to October of last year. In this time he’s failed to hit the top 10 but has finished inside he top 25 on six occasions, with two 26th place finishes enhancing that already solid run of golf.
He’s excelled off-the-tee, ranking 22nd for the season but every area has been in good shape. Gaining strokes in approach in 6 of his last 8 starts, around-the-greens in 7 of his last 10 and with the putter in 5 of his last 8.
As mentioned, he finished runner-up here in 2018, losing out in a playoff to Satoshi Kodaira. This following a 14th place finish on debut and though he missed cuts in 2019/2020, he responded with a 33rd place finish last year.
As a winner of THE PLAYERS Championship, he’s built up a strong record on Pete Dye designs. With top 5 finishes in each of the Texas Open, Mayakoba Classic and Sony Open adding further emphasis as to his suitability for this venue.
Siwoo is in the midst of a really solid run of form. Combine this with his proven course form and the fact all of his game appears to be in good shape, he can make up for that playoff loss in 2018 by finally landing the spoils this year.
Matt Kuchar possesses a frankly superb record at Harbour Town Golf Links, which includes a victory in 2014. Producing some good results this year, particularly on his two most recent starts and starting to show some form with his irons, he can add to that record this week.
Kuchar started his year with a 7th place finish at the Sony Open, largely thanks to a quality week with the short game. After a disappointing run of MC-MC-67-MC in his next four events, he’s arrested the slide in his latest two, first finishing 16th in the Valspar Championship and finished 2nd last time out in the Texas Open. That his most recent start as he missed The Masters this year for the first time since 2009.
In those most recent starts he’s continued to show the quality on and around the greens that we’ve grown accustomed to from Kuchar but there’s been a notable improvement in approach amongst those starts.
It actually started in his missed cut at THE PLAYERS, where he gained strokes in both rounds before his MC. He was a little off again at the Valspar but responded well in Texas, where in round two he produced his best round of approach play of the year and 3rd best number of the last couple of years. Add this to his excellent short-game which has remained in form this year, even through the missed cuts and see’s him rank 1st in scrambling and 12th in putting on tour this season. We start to see a player who may be getting back into something like the kind of form we began to expect of him.
I mentioned his superb record here and it’s one that reads 17 starts and 0 missed cuts. In addition to his victory in 2014, he’s finished in the top 10 on five occasions, including a 2nd in 2019 and produced 11 top 25s. Meaning he’s hit the top 25 on just shy of 65% of his visits here.
His correlating form is as good as anyone’s too. He’s another former PLAYERS Champion and has picked up further titles in the Mayakoba Classic and Sony Open. In addition to that he’s never missed a cut in the Texas Open and has hit the top 10 on three occasions, including that 2nd on his last start. He too has a solid record at the Valspar and St Jude, only missing the cut once in each event amongst multiple starts.
Kuchar seemed to be one of the more affected players by the covid pandemic. It may seem like a long time ago but at the start of 2020, before the stoppages, he’d won out in Singapore and produced an excellent runner-up finish in the Genesis Invitational. He’s also a PGA Tour winner as recently as 2019. With a couple of top 10s to his name so far this season, I’m convinced he has more wins in him yet and if he can find further improvement with his irons this week, has to rate as a big danger at a course which he has such a good record.
A name that has featured a lot amongst my selections in recent weeks and after placing for us last time out in Texas, I’m inclined to go back in again on Adam Hadwin, who continues to play fantastic golf.
That 4th place finish in Texas was the latest in an excellent sequence of results for the Canadian. After a solid start to the year, where Hadwin hit the top 26 in 3 of his first 5 starts, he’s taken it to new levels in his next three. First finishing 9th at THE PLAYERS, following it with 7th at the Valspar and then that 4th in Texas the last time we saw him.
His game has been superb tee-to-green this season and sees him rank 26th on tour. He was particularly impressive in those two most recent starts where he ranked 8th tee-to-green in the Valspar and 4th in Texas. Approach play is the absolute standout area, where he ranks 19th, in addition to 22nd in scrambling and a solid 50th in putting, on current form, he looks the ideal type for this week’s test.
He has a solid record here, with four cuts made in six visits and a best of 22nd in 2017. With him having particular success in playing into these greens.
Hadwin possesses a good book of correlating form too. He’s a past champion at the Valspar and that last start in Texas also rates nicely. With top 10s at El Camaleon in the Mayakoba Classic and at Sawgrass in THE PLAYERS Championship providing added confidence.
He’s had a week off following Texas. As shown above, this is rarely a negative here and with his game continuing to thrive, it was a no-brainer to include Hadwin amongst the selections this week.
After a couple of poor performances from Kevin Na, in missed cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and at THE PLAYERS Championship, he has bounced back well in his next two starts. First making the last 16 in the WGC – Matchplay and then finishing 14th at The Masters, where he led the field in approach. He can continue that run this week at a venue in which he has a very strong record.
He has actually looked good with his irons for most of the year. Ranking 9th in approach when 13th in the Tournament of Champions and then ranked 8th when 20th in the Sony Open. The only blot was in the missed cut at Bay Hill, where he was pretty poor across the board.
He’s played in the RBC Heritage 15 times and missed just four cuts, hitting the top 10 on five occasions, with 4th place finishes in 2007 and 2016 his standout efforts. Na most notably plays very well here on and around-the-greens but it’s no coincidence that the best of his results at Harbour Town have come when he’s been on a going week with the irons. Something I’m very much hoping he can carry over from last week.
Na has a bunch of strong correlating form. He’s a past winner of the Sony Open and has other top 5 finishes both at the Mayakoba Classic and Valspar Championship. These kind of tests, which negate the ability of the longer, stronger drivers to overpower the course are very much his bag.
Leading the field in approach is always an eye-catcher for me but Na doing it at The Masters, on a course longer and more open than ideal really stood out and if able to keep that going this week, looks an obvious danger on this suitable setup.
I liked a few at three-figures but none appealed more than Brendon Todd. Whose steady, straight ball-striking and quality short-game can see him pick up where he left off last time out, when finishing 8th in Texas.
Todd by no means had a poor start to his year, he only missed one cut in his first six starts and put up a couple of real solid efforts, when finishing 16th at Pebble Beach and 26th in Phoenix. His irons looked in good shape at that point and following a few weeks of poor iron play following the Phoenix, he found his form again at the Valspar, where he only missed the cut due to an unusually poor week on the greens and once again produced positive strokes-gained numbers last time out in Texas.
In addition to the good signs in approach, Todd is amongst the straightest drivers and best putters on tour, ranking 11th and 10th respectively, with 30th in scrambling also a big plus around Harbour Town.
He has gone really well here before, when finishing 4th in 2015. Other than that his record is surprisingly underwhelming with three missed cuts and finishes of 38th and 39th. Though he does have some strong correlating form, as a winner of the Mayakoba and also possessing top 10s in the Texas Open.
Todd has had a good year so far, with that 8th place finish last time out his best effort of the year. At a course where he’s proven he can contend before and with the quality he’s once again showing in approach, this straight, steady player looks the ideal type to cause an upset to some of these bigger names this week.