The RBC Heritage Preview and Predictions to Win
Dates: April 13-16, 2017
Course: Harbour Town GL, Hilton Head, SC
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
Man, what a Masters that was. Everyone could probably use a week off right about now, especially those that just braved the mental test that is Augusta, but the PGA Tour is relentless and quickly pivots north to Hilton Head for the RBC Heritage. Another jacket is on the line this week and while the tradition at The Heritage is a little short of The Masters, this is still a top-notch event on the schedule. Gathering a strong field the week following a major is no easy task but plenty of premier players will be in attendance, including dozens making the trip from Augusta. Many Euro pros make the trip back across the pond after The Masters so this event is traditionally heavy on American talent but guys like Branden Grace, Graeme McDowell, and Carl Pettersson have all won here recently to represent the international side of things. We enter a cluster of events now that culminates with the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in June with The Memorial, Byron Nelson and PLAYERS Championship all in between. Players that are still trying to figure things out will really start feeling the pressure to perform. A bad few weeks at this time of year doesn’t completely derail a season but you don’t want to waste opportunities to advance your position on the FedExCup Points List either.
Harbour Town is a love-it or hate-it kind of course. The barely 7,100 yard, par-71 layout it short by Tour standards but is just about the toughest front-to-back accuracy test of any non-Major venue. Players will be challenged to find the fairways at all costs and then face approaches to greens that are about two-thirds the average size of any other PGA course. There are ten holes where players can have legitimate tree issues even in the fairway and there is another handful of holes with water placed less than a few paces away from the green complexes. Basically, a shot that lands on the very right side of the green at any other PGA course will probably result in a tricky up-and-down chance at Harbour Town. Add in fast and firm Bermuda surfaces and you can begin to see why the difficulty rating is up even though the raw distance is down. The good news is that well-struck approaches are not often that far away from the cup so birdies will be had by players that execute well. Familiarity and comfort seem to be important factors here as several players have won the event on multiple occasions with Davis Love III leading the way with five victories.
Each week, we take a look at Bovada Sportsbook and highlight the best bets. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that are most commonly listed at the various golf betting outlets. Here are our picks to win the 2017 RBC Heritage.
Brandt Snedeker (20 to 1 odds to win)
This is a bit of a trend-breaker pick as Sneds does not have the best Harbour Towne record. I did like his tidy 2-under performance over the weekend at Augusta and those that have done well at The Masters do have a good result in the transition to Hilton Head. Approach proximity is a good indicator of success this week and Brandt is 20th on Tour on approaches from 125-150 yards. That is the money distance this week and Snedeker should be able to use that short iron game to set himself up. Once he does find the greens, he can use his top-40 putter to good use and he adds a solid par-save ability with good scrambling numbers. The fit looks good if he can just shake off the few bogeys that have done him in during previous Heritage events.
Luke Donald (33 to 1)
Donald is the second leading money winner in this event’s history and that is significant considering he has never won here. He has four runner-up finishes, including three straight years where he held the 54-hole lead, and two more third place runs. There is clearly something that fits his eye at Harbour Town and you can’t ignore that. Luke hasn’t done much outside of this event recently but did have a nice T17 at Riviera which is another demanding course in terms of ball striking. Even though he is off his vintage form, Donald leads the Tour in sand saves and is 10th in total putting. He enters the week inside the top-30 in strokes gained around the green so you can feel pretty good about his ability to wring every last drop out of his rounds. Maybe it is just the comfy surroundings that gives him the boost but no matter what it is, he is coming in at a great value considering his record here.
Charles Howell III (50 to 1)
With fourteen starts already under his belt, it must have killed Chucky Three-Sticks to sit out the Masters. Howell didn’t make the exempt list for Augusta and he had to be the best player left out of this year’s field. I’m going with the thought that he will be motivated to not miss next year’s Masters and getting a win is the best way to earn that ticket. Howell has made the cut in thirteen of his fourteen starts with four top-10 finishes, including a runner-up at The Farmers. He isn’t a premier ball striker overall but he does rank 41st in greens hit and had a decent go of things last year on the way to a T23. He is currently 22nd in scoring and 16th in scrambling so I think the raw stats speak to him having the ability to card good numbers this week. Charles is 6th in approach distance on putts so he’s kicking in for par when he doesn’t make birdie. I think that gives him a great chance to make another cut and look for a win against a bit softer playing field.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Branden Grace v. Bill Haas (pick to win: Haas)
The easy thing to do is to simply go with the defending champ in Grace, especially with Harbour Town’s reputation for producing multi-time champs. I’m going the other way however as Haas is a good fit for this course as well and he has the edge so far this season in greens hit, overall tee-to-green performance and putting average. That is about all there is folks and it is no surprise to see Haas way ahead in scoring. Billy is 3rd on Tour in scrambling to give him the statistical edge in another important category and it is just too hard to make the case for Grace outside of the fact that he won here last year. If he does, that’s great for him but betting him to do so is just a gut play.
Charley Hoffman v. Adam Hadwin (pick to win: Hadwin)
Full disclosure: I am a pretty big fan of Charley Hoffman. I don’t really have any reason behind it other than the guy is a grinder that always seems to pop his head up a few times a year in big moments to provide a nice underdog story, just like he did last week. So, given that note, you might be surprised to see my pick Hadwin but stats ahead of gut again and Hadwin has the goods. He leads Hoffman in greens hit, putting average, birdies and scoring this season. Hadwin is also in a great mindset having just won his first PGA Tour event and getting married. Golfers on a hot streak make for good bets and playing pressure free is a good way to stay hot. Hadwin is also a talented short game player to give this match a similar look to the Grace/Haas pairing and I am going in essentially the same direction with the pick. Hoffman is fresh on everyone’s mind after playing well at Augusta but Hadwin has the stat sheet and the talent to back it up every week. Bet your RBC Heritage picks for FREE by taking advantage of a huge bonus at 5 Dimes.