*recent RBC Heritage Champions
Another year, another terrific Masters. Sure, not too many people are Patrick Reed fans, but I was still wildly entertained for all four days. Reed played incredible for three days, and even though he didn’t hit the ball very well on Sunday, his putter, which had been on fire all week, kept him afloat. Over the four days, that may have been the best putting performance I’ve seen in a major. The only putting performances that compared are when Jordan Spieth took home the green jacket in 2015 and Tiger Woods in his major-winning days. Even though he didn’t win, Spieth still found a way to make our jaws collectively drop. His final round performance was simply incredible. Spieth came into the day nine shots off the lead and had he birdied the final hole, he would’ve found himself in a playoff with Reed. He shot a final round 64 at Augusta National, and if not for a lonely tree branch on the 18th, he may have pulled off the unthinkable.
Reed winning the Masters makes it four majors in a row won by an American in their 20s: Brooks Koepka at the U.S Open, Spieth at the British Open, Justin Thomas at the PGA, and now Reed with a green jacket. With golf where it is now, there will be no Tiger Woods of this generation, but there are about eight to 10 golfers who on any given day can set scoring-records at a major. Most likely, no one will catch Jack or Tiger’s major count, but we will certainly have plenty more heroic performances on major Sundays.
With the excitement of the year’s first major behind us, the Tour makes it’s usual post-Masters stop at Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage. Normally, with the hangover from the Masters, this week is very quiet in terms of the talent we’ll see. That’s not the case this year. A total of 33 players from last week’s Masters field will tee it up at Harbour Town Golf Links alongside 99 players who will have their first opportunity at punching their ticket to the 2019 Masters. After finishing T-10 last week, world number one-ranked Dustin Johnson will make his first PGA Tour appearance in his home state since 2009. With no one else entered from the Top 10, it’s not a stacked field, but it is certainly a deep one. A total of 19 other golfers from the world’s Top 50 (and many more just outside the top 50) will be at Hilton Head including Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Tyrell Hatton, and Xander Schauffele. The next wave of golfers ain’t too shabby either with Adam Hadwin, Zach Johnson, Emiliano Grillo, Francesco Molinari, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman, and Cameron Smith, who just finished his first-ever Masters with a 30 on his final nine holes.
Who starts the @RBC_Heritage with momentum?
Find out in this week’s Power Rankings. https://t.co/5qG9yV8vJO
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 10, 2018
One of the shortest courses on the Tour schedule, Harbour Town Golf Links was built in 1969 by famous golf-course-designer Pete Dye with the help of a guy named Jack Nicklaus. Dye is famous for creating courses that make you think. At just 7,100 yards players will not need a driver on many of the holes. Tall trees and waste-areas make for a narrow course. With most players having the ability to club-down off the tee, I like the good drive % statistic more than driving accuracy. Good drive % factors in how often a player puts themselves in good position for their next shot rather than just whether or not they hit the fairway. Dye’s two main defenses from PGA Tour players going ridiculously low is the narrowness of the course, and the size of the greens. The greens at Harbour town are the smallest on Tour, with an average of just 3,700 sq. feet. That’s about 30-40% smaller than the average PGA Tour green. The small greens are occasionally surrounded by giant greenside bunkers. A solid iron and wedge game is important to navigate these issues. Golfers who rank highly in GIR % strokes gained: approach will have a much easier time than those constantly scrambling to get up and down. With that being said, scrambling is also a necessary trait to have this week. Realistically, no matter how well anyone strikes the ball, nobody will hit much better than 80% of greens over 72 holes of golf. Considering the fact that this is a very narrow course with the smallest greens on Tour, you’re going to need players who can make par after missing both the fairway and the green. The best iron-players coupled with solid scrambling is what will get it done this week.
Good Drive %
Strokes gained: approach
Want to help fight blood cancer and compete for World Series tickets? Learn about the mission of DKMS and compete nightly for World Series tickets this MLB season on FantasyDraft. All for FREE. Sponsored by FNTSY and DKMS, learn about their mission and access the daily contests at dailyroto.com/dkms.