Usually the PGA Tour event after a major championship is devoid of talent, but this week’s RBC Heritage has bucked that trend. The Hilton Head Island tournament has several top names entered this week.
The biggest is Dustin Johnson. The No. 1 ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings is making his second straight appearance here after an eight-year hiatus. Johnson is fresh off a tie for second at the Masters. Johnson is the favorite to win this week at 7/1.
Another golfer who is in the event, and tied for second last week, is Xander Schauffele. The third-year tour pro flew to South Carolina straight from Augusta, and said he wanted to get a feel for the course since this is only his second time here.
“I played today and the greens are really firm,” Schauffele said. “There’s a ton of run out. And I’m assuming it’s only going to get a bit firmer. You have to be very precise and you have to make a lot of good decisions off the tee.”
Just because Schauffele has only played here once before, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe he can’t succeed.
“I wouldn’t show up to a property that I don’t think I could win at,” Schauffele said. “I think my game suits a lot of different style of courses. This property historically suits sort of a shorter hitter that’s very precise, putts well and wedges it pretty well. You can sneak a few extra drivers off the tee, but you don’t really have to.”
Precision Over Muscle
Most of the players will be using the same strategy on the par-71 course that measures at right about 7,100 yards. The tight-tree-lined layout built by famed designer Pete Dye, definitely places a premium on accuracy. Fairways in regulation are going to be a more important statistic this week, as opposed to driving distance.
The leader in fairways hit this year is Jim Furyk at 77.65 percent. The next closest is Chez Reavie at 73.79 percent. It is not surprising he is the all-time money winner at the RBC Heritage and has two victories. What is a little shocking is that he is at 33/1 to win.
On another Dye course, the TPC Sawgrass where the Players Championship is played, he finished second this year. Furyk believes his game is well-suited for this week.
“It calls for a lot of different shots,” Furyk said. “It’s different than a lot of golf courses we play. I won’t lie to you, my strengths are very valuable here, getting the high, bombing draw and driver isn’t really in my wheelhouse. And there’s not a huge need for that here.”
Big Names To Test Harbour Town
Francesco Molinari (14/1), Bryson DeChambeau (18/1), and Jordan Spieth (22/1) are some of the other top players that are committed to this event. Matt Kurchar and Patrick Cantlay, also Masters entrants, are here as well.
Someone who might be near the top of the leaderboard this week is Luke Donald. The Englishman has five seconds and two thirds at the tournament, but missed the cut last year. Donald is not one of the longer drivers on tour, so this has usually been a good event for him.
“The guys that can scramble well and have good course management, it’s not a course you need to be a long hitter,” Donald said. “Certain holes it helps, obviously, but the long hitters, it’s taking driver out of their hands a lot. So I feel like the playing field’s leveled out.”