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Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 The Heritage Predictions, Sleepers & Preview

Patrick Mayo Staff Writer April 10, 2017 11:27AM EDT

The Heritage
Defending Champ: Branden Grace

FNTSY Sports Network’s Pat Mayo and Cam Stewart recap the Masters then debate their RBC Heritage picks and the week in betting at this week’s PGA Tour stop at Harbour Town GL.

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The Heritage Field
132 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make The Cut

From Green Jackets to jackets that would have made Rod Roddy’s face melt like one of the ark thieving Nazis. THIS is The Heritage. Roddy died almost 15 years ago, so I’m guessing him, Arnold Toht and Rich Uncle Skeleton are all essentially doppelgängers by this point anyway. If Stewart Cink was asked to “Come on Down” after his 2000 Harbour Town triumph however, and appeared on Contestant’s Row decked out in TARTAN SWAG, we would have lost Rod that much sooner. Just sayin.

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132 of the world’s not-best are making the annual trek to Hilton Head Island for the traditional post-Masters stop. Fortunately, title sponsor RBC has its own crew of golfers in place to pad the field with competitive players: Jim FurykMatt KucharBrandt SnedekerGraeme McDowellAdam HadwinGraham DeLaetRyan PalmerNick TaylorDavid Hearn, and Ernie Els are all in attendance repping the Royal Bank of Canada. Sadly, well for The Heritage (not him financially) Jason Day switched from RBC to Nike late last year, so he’ll be absent this season. Not all is lost though. A bunch of international stars have stepped up to make up for Day’s loss: Tyrrell HattonDanny Willet, defending champ Branden GraceMartin KaymerRafa Cabrera-BelloShane LowryMatthew FitzpatrickYuta Ikea, and Hideto Tanihara have all decided to get in another event since they’re all over in the US already. Toss in some second-tier PGA regulars like Bill HaasKevin KisnerMarc LeishmanRussell KnoxFrancesco MolinariKevin NaCharley HoffmanCharles HowellJason DufnerDirt McGirtRussell Henley, and Webb Simpson, and 19 off the world’s Top 50 ranked players will be on the grounds.

Team RBC has captured five of the past seven Heritage titles, while international players donned golf’s worst sartorial honor the other two years in that stretch.

The Heritage Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4 Birdies or Better
Good Drive Percentage
Par 3 Efficiency 175-200 Yards
Strokes Gained: Around The Green

The Heritage Course
Harbour Town GL | Par 71 | 7,099 Yards

As is custom with Pete Dye designed courses, expect a high degree of difficulty and a lot of blind approaches. Traditionally ranking as the layout with the shortest drives off the tee, placement is essential to set up proper attack angles. Harbour Town GL’s fairways aren’t difficult to hit (thanks to the majority of the field using less than driver off the tee), yet, merely landing in the short grass is a fruitless effort if players aren’t on the right side on the side. Sometimes, it’s best settle in the first cut if makes the pin accessible on the second shot, because these greens are tough to hit.

Pete Dye Courses on TOUR
  • TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
  • Harbor Town (RBC Heritage)
  • TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship)
  • TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
  • Austin Country Club (2016/2017 Match Play)
  • TPC Stadium Course at La Quinta (2016/2017 Careerbuilder)
  • Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
  • Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA Championship)
  • Kiawah Island (2012 PGA Championship)

With the smallest putting surfaces on TOUR, The Heritage sports the lowest GIR% of any event. This leaves those with deadly approaches with the ability to score, and those with a prominent short games to bail themselves out of trouble an avoid huge numbers. This is where good drive percentage comes into play.

Veer enough off the fairways and you’re stuck in the woods. As we witnessed at Augusta last week, cuddling up to the trees isn’t always devastating to a score card. It is at The Heritage. Getting on the greens is challenging enough; add forest or water in play on either side of every tee shot and you have the potential for blowups quite quickly. Even more so if the coastal winds start swirling around. Looking at past champions and consistent performers at Harbour Town over the years, many will see names like Donald, Furyk, and Kuchar and immediately think driving accuracy; not wrong. But I prefer a stat called “good drive percentage” which combines a player’s accuracy off the tee with their ability hit greens in regulation even if they miss.

Good Drive Percentage

The percent of time a player hit a good drive. On Par 4 and Par 5’s, the number of fairways hit, + the # of Greens or fringe in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway on the tee shot. / by the number of par 4 and par 5’s played. 

This assists the bombers who generally don’t have the greatest pure accuracy percentage but leave themselves quality GIR opportunities.

Beyond that, at a Par 71, where the three Par 5s don’t really cede eagles (10 in 2016; 17 in 2015; 15 in 2014), generating birdies on Par 4s will separate the leaders from the field. That, or ample scoring on Par 3s, which is far less consistent week-to-week. Although, we do get the benefit of having all four of the Par 3s measure within a yard of the distinct Par 3 range: 175-200 yards.

RBC Heritage Picks (Yahoo! Game)

Bill Haas & Graeme McDowell – If it’s a Dye design, it’s time to roll out Haas in your lineups. He’s gained strokes on the field around the greens in seven straight events, made 12 consecutive cuts, and keeps posting quality results on the Dye layouts (3rd/T17/T43/T14/T9/T9)… Before no-showing the Puerto Rico Open, GMAC was starting to recapture his game again. He played seven straight weekends previous, and he was good for four Top 20 finishes. He accomplished through an amalgamation of approach shots and lights out putting.

Kevin Kisner, Francesco Molinari, Webb Simpson & Matt Kuchar – Kisner has been lurking enough over the past two months. He’s close. While his around-the-green work has slipped as of late, the 2015 Heritage playoff loser and RSM champion continues to be elite with his irons. For the year, he sits seventh on TOUR in SG: Approach, seven in overall Strokes Gained, and ranks fifth in the field from the key Par 3 range (2.880)… Stat heads love Molinari. His irons are crisp (5th), he can putt (66th) and drive it where he wants it (35th GD%), but that lousy short game usually sinks him (134th). However, lately, he’s been getting a grasp on his chipping; he’s gained strokes on the field in each of past two measured events… The story is always the same with Webb: If he putts he’ll contend. And I’m not even talking putt well, just averagely. For example, he lost over four strokes to the field on the greens at Valspar and still came 41st. With the small, slower greens this week, the amount of three-putts is greatly diminished… Kuchar is former champion, with three T10s in a row at Harbour Town, with an ideal skill set, who crushes Dye courses, and currently sits as the betting favorite. If you have to take the chalk in this group (Kuchar/Snedeker/Furyk), Kuch is the best bet.

Tyrrell Hatton & Jason Dufner – As with Grace last year, the missed cut for Hatton at Augusta may actually work in his favor. Expectations have been lowered and he got the extra two days of downtime. Ultimately, his short game struggles finally bit him at The Masters, but previously, he’d been so solid with his irons that it didn’t make a difference. It worries me slightly here with so much around-the-green work to be done, but if he continues to lap the field in SG: Approach and Putting, he’ll make enough birdies to counteract the hiccups. Oh, he’s the highest ranked player in the field too (16th), don’t forget that… I’m such a sucker for Dufner. He’s never been a great Pete Dye player, but his game theoretically translates perfectly. He’s accurate, he gets hot with irons, and he score in bunches. And, maybe the sneakiest part of his game right now is his work on and around the greens. Generally a death knell, Duf Daddy has gained strokes versus the field with his flat stick in three straight events.

The Pat Mayo Hour covers the entire scope of the Fantasy sports landscape from Football to Reality TV, daily and yearly leagues and everything in between. You can watch the Pat Mayo Hour every weekday at 3:00pm EST, 8:00pm EST and Midnight on the FNTSY Sports Network Television channel or on your Apple TV, Xbox, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. If you have a Fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at PatMayoHour@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show. 

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