Congratulations to Patrick Reed on a great tournament and particularly his performance on Sunday being able to hold off all the big names in the chasing pack to earn his 1st major and a green jacket. He is a very interesting character and despite not being the most popular winner ever at Augusta the win was fully deserved, holing tough putts at vital times and fighting well.
This week the PGA Tour heads to Hilton Head Island on the South Carolina Coast for a course that could hardly be more different than Augusta National. Harbour Town Golf Links is a 7,100 yard Pete Dye design with Bermudagrass greens. It is a short tree-lined course where keeping the ball in play and on the right side of fairways is important to give yourself a chance to attack the pin. Most players will not hit many drivers and the emphasis is hitting the fairway and nailing the approach. The sole similarity from last week is that the greens here are tough to hit. These are the smallest greens on tour so getting up and down for par to keep momentum will be vital.
Key Stats we are looking at this week:
Stokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
Strokes Gained: Short game (putting/chipping)
Par 4 Scoring
Proximity 150-200 yards
The leading contenders are Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar. DJ has played here twice and never made a cut but is playing here for the 1st time since 2009. He is only playing here as he is sponsored by RBC so we have to question how focussed he will be and therefore cannot be backed at less than 10/1. Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar should go well here where it will all depend on the putter for them, but it is tough to take guys with there strike rates below 20/1.
It wouldn’t be an RBC Heritage Preview without mentioning Luke Donald. The former world no.1 has an incredible record here with 7 Top 3 finishes in the last 9 years without winning. That would suggest each way value and it would not surprise us to see him contend but the form is not there for a recommendation from us. Even his trusty iron game is struggling, losing strokes on approach in his last 3 tournaments. Here are some players we think provide value:
Marc Leishman @ 33/1 BetStars 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
The Australian is coming off a good masters week that he will feel could have been so much better having sat 2nd at the halfway point. He struggled off the tee at Augusta but was dialled in with the irons and putted very well. That could bode well for this week where he can leave the driver in the bag. 6th in this field in SG:Tee-2-Green over the last year and has gained strokes around the green in 12 of his last 15 tournaments so we know he can get up and down when he misses the green. The course setup looks to suit. Being Australian he is used to playing in the wind and has performed well on coastal courses. Top 10 finishes in his last 2 stroke-play events show he has the form to contend.
Adam Hadwin @ 40/1 Coral 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another player who has been in excellent form recently. 8th in SG:T2G and 2nd in bogey avoidance in 2018 the thing holding him back from a big finish has been putting. This is a bit of a surprise as that has historically been the strongest part of his game. No real course form to speak of but his approach play from 150-200 yards has been outstanding in the last 2 months and if the putter heats up he will be there or thereabouts.
Ian Poulter @ 50/1 PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
We know the Englishman is in good form, the question is does he have enough left in the tank for another good week. At 50/1 we are willing to take a chance that he does. Over the last 12 months he is 9th in this field in SG:T2G and 4th in proximity from the important distance of 150-175 yards where a lot of his approaches will be played from this week. His approach play from 175-200 has been outstanding the last month and the week he made some putts he was able to get the win. He is a Pete Dye specialist who plays his best golf on bermudagrass. Has solid form on this course with Top 20s in 2 of the last 3 years here when he wasn’t playing as well as he is right now.
Ollie Schniederjans @ 66/1 Unibet 5 places e/w 1/4 odds
Ollie looks well suited here as he has played his best golf on coastal courses with bermudagrass greens. He is 7th in the field from 150-175 yards and has really improved his short game recently, gaining strokes around the green in 6 of his last 7 events. 3rd here on debut last year and has good finishes at similar layouts, 2nd at The Wyndham Championship and 6th at The RSM classic last year. He is known for hitting low stinging irons off the tee -which we hope to see this week. OS will have plenty of support out there.
Chris Kirk @ 100/1 Skybet 8 places e/w 1/5 odds
Chris Kirk is a player who is slowly getting back to his best form. Since the turn of the year he is 10th in this field in SG:T2G, 11th in Driving Accuracy and 16th in bogey avoidance. He performs very well on Pete Dye designs and has been consistently excellent from 175-200 yards for months now. A multiple winner at his best, it seems only a matter of time before he finds the winners circle again.
Longshots to consider:
Kelly Kraft @ 125/1 Betfair/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Kraft is another player in form with 2 Top 10s in his last 4 events. He likes colder, windier coastal conditions, but struggles with the driver. Consequently these shorter courses suit him. He has been hitting it close from 150-200 yards lately and has always been a solid putter.
Vaughn Taylor @ 200/1 Betfair/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Vaughn Taylor has been solid this year, making the cut in 4 straight tournaments with 2 Top 20s. He is 5th in the field in Driving Accuracy and Top 10 in proximity from 150-200 yards. He is an excellent chipper but struggles to make putts. No real pedigree on Pete Dye courses but if he finds some form on the greens he could go well at a big price.
Blayne Barber @ 250/1 Betfair/Coral/PaddyPower 7 places e/w 1/5 odds
Another Pete Dye specialist who is arguably the best putter on tour on bermudagrass greens. A good wind player who may have found some form with the irons over the last month.
2nd April 2018