RBC Heritage at Harbour Town provides unique challenge after Masters
The Masters hangover is a real thing.
Many golf fans still need to catch their breath from Sergio Garcia’s clutch playoff win over Justin Rose on Sunday at Augusta National. For those ready to move on, this week’s RBC Heritage at famed Harbour Town provides an interesting challenge for PGA Tour pros.
Where is the RBC Heritage played?
Harbour Town Golf Links, a 7,099-yards, par 71 in Hilton Head, S.C., is one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour schedule. With hundreds of oaks and pines lining the tight fairways, the shorter, more accurate hitters get to dominate for once.
A massive hurricane last fall made the course a little less tight after tons of trees came down, but the iconic red-and-white lighthouse behind the 18th green still guides players to victory.
Who won the RBC Heritage last year?
South African Branden Grace slipped on the winner’s plaid jacket last year after edging Luke Donald and Russell Knox by two strokes. Grace rose to No. 11 in the world ranking after the win, but has since dropped back to No. 22.
Who are this year’s favorites to contend?
Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley and Tyrrell Hatton headline a balanced field.
Kaymer, ranked 43rd in the world, has finished in the top 23 in each of his last six starts worldwide. He finished T-16 at the Masters last week while cruising up the leaderboard Sunday.
Kuchar, ranked 17th in the world, won here in 2014 after holing out from the bunker on the 72nd hole. He finished T-4 at Augusta last week while dazzling fans with a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th.
Fitzpatrick (32nd in the world) and Hatton (16th), enter the week in fabulous form while trying to gain full status on the PGA Tour. Hatton missed the cut at the Masters last week, but before that surprising finish, he had recorded 12 straight top-25 finishes worldwide. Fitzpatrick won the DP World Tour Championship last fall.
Normally a streaky player, Henley enters the week as one of the hottest players on Tour. After winning the Shell Houston Open, Henley backed up his dramatic victory with a T-11 at the Masters, which qualifies him for a return to Augusta next year. His accuracy off the tee will make or break him this week.
Sleepers for the RBC Heritage
Patrick Cantlay has the talent to become one of the best players in the world. The former No. 1 amateur in the world returned to golf this year after a number of injury and personal setbacks. He finished runner-up at the Valspar Championship, and could be a factor this week considering he’s a great iron player.
Aaron Baddeley is as mercurial as they come, but he finished T-15 in Houston two weeks ago and he finished T-2 at Harbour Town in 2008. Baddeley is a great putter and accurate off the tee. His sub-par iron game hurts his consistency, though.