RBC Heritage Preview and Betting Picks
When: April 14-17, 2016
Where: Harbour Town Golf Links Hilton Head, SC
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapping Analyst, Predictem.com
Im sure more than a few golfers are spent after grinding through a week at Augusta. There are even some spectators that are feeling it after watching the drama unfold late Sunday afternoon but there is no rest for the PGA Tour and all eyes move to South Carolina this week for the RBC Heritage. Held at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, the RBC has followed the Masters since 1983 and while that is not the most ideal slot on the schedule, this event still draws a strong and competitive field. The field is a bit shorter than most as the Heritage has full invitational status so there will only be about 120 golfers teeing it up this week rather than the 150 or so. Bryson DeChambeau sheds his amateur status and makes his pro debut this week but defending champ Jim Furyk will not play as he continues to rehab a wrist injury. Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson highlight a field that also includes past champion Graeme McDowell and four-time RBC Heritage champ Davis Love III.
Harbour Town is so different from the rest of the Tour courses that it deserves to be in its own category. The Dye/Nicklaus design measures just 7,100 yards, far shorter than most modern courses, and plays at par-71. The layout is heavily tree-lined to the point where drives placed in the fairway may still require an approach navigated around the trees. Greens at Harbour Town are small with most just a shade over 3,700 square feet on average. That is diminutive compared to the Tour average of almost 7,000 square feet and they are firm and fast on top of that. Accurate players can score here but it is very difficult to get around all week without some hiccups. A rain-soaked edition of the Heritage last year allowed several players to card four rounds in the 60s but that is not common and low rounds are not commonplace either. The winner this week will have struck the ball well and surely saved more than his fair share of scrambling pars after missed greens. The best strategy here is to play the simple shots that give you the best chance to stay out of trouble. Quality birdie looks will be there after good approaches but there is no way to force anything at Harbour Town. Patience, accuracy and par-saves are the name of this game.
Each week, we take a look at the available wagering options and highlight the best bets. We make some picks to win and breakdown some head-to-head matches that you can find at any of the books on our recommended sportsbooks list. Here are our picks to win the 2016 RBC Heritage.
Brandt Snedeker (20 to 1 odds to win)
Snedeker is fresh off a Masters week that saw him flirt with the lead on a couple of occasions before settling in a tie for 10th. He made it through three rounds at the Match Play event a couple of weeks prior so its safe to say he is well on top of his game. Brandt won the 2011 edition of the RBC Heritage and has not missed the weekend since here since. He has added some power to his game, especially off the tee and while he is a bit off from his career accuracy marks, that added distance has helped him to top-15 ranks in birdie and scoring average. Sneds is a fantastic putter and enters the week 11th in total putting, adding that clutch element on the greens that helps net the 15th best scrambling stat. Getting up and down here is a key to breaking par and Brandt should utilize his whole skill set well for a contending run this weekend.
Luke Donald (50 to 1)
It has been a rough couple of years for Luke Donald. It was just 2011 when Donald was the worlds number one ranked player and all seemed on track but swing coach changes and relatively poor play through most of the last few seasons have led to Luke falling out of the top-60 and more recently the top-90 in the world. He did not qualify for the last Ryder Cup team or the Masters last week and his U.S. Open status hinges on yearly qualifiers at this point. One thing that has remained consistent however is his play at Harbour Town. In seven RBC appearances, Donald has five top-3 finishes, including a playoff loss and two other runners-up. He finished T15 last year in one of his worst Heritage efforts, bringing his career finish at this event to 9th. That is an amazing run of success to not include a win and there is something that just fits well with Luke and Harbour Town. Despite his struggles overall, he has remained a solid ballstriker and enters the week hitting a solid 68% of his greens. When he missed the putting surface, he scrambles at a top-10 level and is a good lag and mid-length putter. His record speaks for itself and a win here is long overdue.
Webb Simpson (50 to 1)
Webb is another prototypical player that should succeed at Harbour Town and he has in the past with three top-14 finishes since 2010, including a playoff 2nd in 2013. He has not missed a cut here since 2009 so he makes for a good head-to-head betting option as well but I think he can push toward the top of the leaderboard based on a pretty strong Masters week. Simpson endured a tough opening round at Augusta but made the weekend and was only 2-over par through the final three rounds. He enters the week inside the top-30 in ballstriking and is a very solid 12th in total driving. Overall, he is an average putter on Tour but he is good at par-saves and is well above average in making putts in that 10-20 foot range. He keeps the big mistakes off the card at the expense of really going for broke but that is exactly the type of approach you need at the Heritage.
Picks to win matches are based on projected score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for the best selection of single round matches and prop bets. (If you sign up there, PASS on the bonus and opt for the “reduced juice” option. The benefits to betting at reduced odds is WAY better and more valuable!
Zach Johnson v. Matt Kuchar (pick to win: Kuchar)
You are going to see a lot of domestic players going head-to-head with the heavy American field and this pairing looks very close on paper. Both players should do well as both are good on the accuracy stats but Kuchar has managed to be about 70 spots better in scoring average rank than Zach despite hitting fewer greens. Johnson simply isnt scoring at his usual pace and while he doesnt have any glaring weaknesses, he cant quite seem to get birdie runs going and that makes his bogeys all the more damaging. Kuchar is steadier at this point and that should play out over four days.
Jason Dufner v. Billy Horschel (pick to win: Dufner)
Harbour Town will make you work tee-to-green and you have to like Dufner in this head-to-head based on his fairways and greens hit numbers. Jason outduels Billy in both those categories and owns a scoring advantage edge despite Horschel owning a better putting average. There is no real advantage for either when it comes to scrambling to birdies made so Im happy sticking with the guy who is the better ballstriker at the moment.
Good luck and good golf!