PGA: Key Plays at RBC Heritage

Profile Picture: Tommy Raymond

April 18th, 2019

Following the dramatic fifth Masters title and 15th major championship victory by Tiger Woods will prove an unenviable task.

But the eyes of the golf world turn to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C, nonetheless. Other than in 2011, the Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus designed venue has hosted what is now the RBC Heritage the week following the Masters in every year of this century.

Hilton Head is a relatively short commute from Augusta and an opportunity to play another iconic venue beneath the unmistakable Harbour Town Lighthouse.

Harbour Town, a public-access course unlike Augusta National, represented Nicklaus’ first venture into golf course design, and from here he went on to design eye-catching courses such as Muirfield Village, Castle Pines and Valhalla.

Dye is as legendary as they come in the design business, responsible for such breathtaking layouts as Whistling Straits, Kiawah Island (Ocean), TPC at Sawgrass and Crooked Stick, among others.

At stake this week is an invitation to the Masters next year, which the winner automatically receives. In the last 10 years, there have been three winners of the Heritage who were not in the Masters field. Those three were Brian Gay in 2009, Carl Petterson in 2012 and Wesley Bryan two years ago.

Four winners at Harbour Town–Jim Furyk (2010), Graeme McDowell (2013), Furyk again (2015) and Brenden Grace (2016)–missed the cut in that same year’s Masters.

As a general rule Harbour Town is what is called a “ball strikers” course, where length is considered to be of lesser advantage. Davis Love III in 2003 was the last “long” hitter to win there.  

South Carolina native Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite since he’s currently ranked No. 1 in the world and has the track record to deserve this confidence, but since his power is negated by the tightness of the Harbour Town fairways, I’ll be taking a shot against him.

One player who will offer value is Byeong Hun An at +4500. He missed the Masters because he was ranked just outside the top 50 in the world and had no other exemption criteria into the year’s first major. However, he has made 19 consecutive cuts, tied for the PGA Tour lead with Rickie Fowler, and tied for seventh last year in his first appearance at Harbour Town. A small wager to win or an each-way bet is probably worth a try given his current form.

Another player worth a look at +2800 is Kevin Kisner. The University of Georgia product tied for 21st at the Masters and prior to that won the prestigious WGC Match Play at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.

Who designed Austin County Club? Pete Dye. On that angle I’ll be giving Kisner a shot at winning the plaid jacket as well.