RBC Heritage Preview and Picks
June 17, 2020
The return of PGA Tour action last week was welcomed around the world. The Charles Schwab Challenge featured a star-studded lineup, and it was clear that many players have held their form from earlier in the year.
Daniel Berger got the job done at the first playoff hole. He is ultra-consistent now shooting 38 rounds in a row under par.
He beat fellow American, Collin Morikawa, to the win. Morikawa is also one of the most consistent young players on the Tour – having never missed a cut.
Morikawa looked set to win but pushed a putt on the 72nd green. Berger played well up the stretch to force a playoff and held his nerve by parring the first playoff hole (the 17th) after Morkawa found trouble off the tee.
Both are players that have to be considered for future events – potentially starting this week at Harbour Town.
Harbour Town Links is a Pete Dye designed, 7,099-yard challenge. Located just 2 hours flight from last week’s venue, Colonial - the South Carolina track is actually also very similar in nature.
It is a tight track, with narrow fairways, multiple doglegged holes and water coming into play on 10 of the holes. It’s stand out feature is the tiny, dome-shaped greens that were upgraded and replaced in 2016. These targets are hard for even the best ball strikers to find in regulation, making scrambling a key attribute to follow this week.
A strong short game is going to be as important as ever at Harbour Town this week. Accuracy off the tee is also vital. Like last week, this course is not about distance – but more so accuracy. The wind can play a major role in winning scores. Final totals of -10 have been enough to win when the wind has played a role – but scores as low as -20 have also been seen.
Making pars when missing the putting surface is a major key to success here – looking for players who have a strong short game is recommended.
Like last week, many of the world’s best players will feature at Harbour Town.
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are all expected to play. Last week’s winner, Daniel Berger and playoff loser Collin Morikawa are also set to feature.
Players are clearly keen to sharpen up their game ahead of the majors – explaining why we are seeing such stacked fields early after the resumption.
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Despite the big names that will tee it up here this week, it is often a lesser-known player who manages to secure the win at Harbour Town. C.T Pan (2019), Satoshi Kodaira (2018) and Wesley Bryan (2017) are the last 3 winners here (all at huge prices).
The likes of Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell have also won around here in recent years. As mentioned before – none of these players are considered to be long off the tee.
Last year’s winner, C.T Pan explained after his win that: ‘I’m not a long hitter, so it’s all about decision. Decision with the ball is very important out here, and I hit a lot of fairways…’. This reinforces the traits of the players we are keen on this week.
Our first selection this week is Kevin Kisner 66-1 William Hill. Kisner has shown throughout his career that he plays well on Pete Dye courses. Recent form at Harbour Town reads 7th (2018), 11th (2017) and 2nd (2015).
Last week at Colonial he shot 4 rounds in the 60s, finishing 29th overall. That should have sharpened his game up for the test to come this week. Playing in his home state, Kisner should feel comfortable – and he has played well throughout his career in the South. Strong showings at TPC Sawgrass and TPC Louisiana highlight this fact clearly.
Kisner has won three times on the PGA Tour to date and has recent form to back up our selection this week. Looking at key attributes from the Tour so far this season, Kisner is ranked 7th in Driving Accuracy this season, and 5th in the Scrambling statistics. Both of these measures have been highlighted as being keys to success around this South Carolina links track.
Whilst his putting let him down slightly last week – he hit fairway after fairway. If he can sharpen up his putting then he could well feature heavily this week in South Carolina.
Collin Morikawa 30-1 FOXbet is our second selection this week. Just touched off last week, the 23-year-old PGA Tour debutant has done very little wrong so far this year. He looked to have victory in his sights last week, only to miss two crucial putts when it really mattered.
He is as consistent as any player on Tour this year – not having ever missed a cut. His short game was highlighted as being a real strength last week at Colonial too. He managed to get up and downtime after time from around the green and from the sand. If he is able to replicate that sort of scrambling performance here this week then he has got to be considered.
He does not possess the distance of many of his fellow pros off the tee – but that does not seem to be a statistic that will hold him back around Harbour Town. He can shape the ball nicely and consistently makes fairways in regulation.
He is in excellent form, and showed real promise last week, only to come up short on Sunday. We do not think it will be long before Morikawa secures his first Tour win, and recommend a wager on him to feature here this week.
Despite the big names that once again line up this week, we are concentrating on two of the lesser-known players on the Tour.
Both Kisner and Morikawa are players that possess the attributes to play well here.
Kisner has proved this with strong showings each time he has played Harbour Town. Morikawa is a future star, with an excellent touch around the green. That attribute alone makes him of real interest here.
We suggest backing both of these players this week with the hope that Morikawa can go one better than his 2nd place finish last week in Texas.