RBC Heritage – Golfers to Target

Mark Diana
Golf Analyst

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Following a historic Masters Tournament, the PGA Tour moves to Hilton Head, South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. This tournament is featuring a strong field, especially considering the fact that the Masters was last week. Harbour Town Golf Links is a Pete Dye designed course. We have seen plenty of Pete Dye courses this season, most recently at the PLAYERS Championship and the WGC Match Play. All Pete Dye courses require golfers to be creative shot-makers and to be strategic with how they attack the course.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a Par 71 that measures under 7,100 yards. The greens are hard to hit, with only 58 percent of golfers landing on the green-in-regulation. This is because the green complexes are only 3,700 square feet, which is second smallest on the PGA Tour. The fairways are narrow and accuracy is essential. Driving distance can be thrown out the window this week with the course forcing players to layup to certain distances to create the proper approach shot. I will be looking for players who are great on approach, and have proficient short games.

Each week, I will highlight golfers from different price tiers to help you build your betting card! The four price tiers I will highlight this week will be the: the top-tier, mid-tier, sleepers, and longshots. Top-tier golfers will consist of golfers who are 30-1 or less. The mid-tier will consist of golfers who are longer than 30-1, but shorter than 60-1. Sleepers will consist of golfers who are longer than 60-1, but shorter than 100-1. Longshots will consist of golfers who are longer than 100-1.

Top-Tier (Under 30)

Webb Simpson 13-1

Webb returns to RBC as the second-favorite (behind Dustin Johnson) and he looks to defend his 2020 title. Webb has played this event 11 times in his career and has recorded five Top 15 finishes. This is a course that suits Webb’s game perfectly. A shorter course with an emphasis on short-game is Webb’s recipe for success. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Webb ranks: third in Strokes Gained Short-Game, 10th in Putting, 14th in Birdies-or-Better gained, 15th in Good Drives, and 15th in Strokes Gained on Par 4s. The seven-time PGA Tour winner has three Top 12 Finishes in his last six events. This is the perfect event to be on Webb, the number might be short, but it’s because he has a realistic chance at a repeat victory this week.

Collin Morikawa 21-1

Morikawa is one of the superstars on the PGA Tour. He is a major champion, he’s won a WGC, and has two more victories to his name at only 24-years-old. Despite all of this, he never gets priced in the betting market correctly. Blindly betting on him every time you see a 20 or higher would be profitable. The #4 ranked golfer in the world is one of the best iron players in the world and this is a course that rewards strong approach play. Morikawa already has a win in 2021 and he can look to add to that total this week. He comes into the week, over his last 36 rounds ranked: first in Approach, third in Good Drives, fourth in Greens-in-Regulation, and eighth in Birdies-or-Better Gained. Morikawa has shown he has a mature, strategic approach to attacking golf courses which is why I like the way he sets up for this week.

Will Zalatoris 30-1

Coming off a runner-up finish at Augusta National where he was making his Masters debut, might be a natural “let down”spot for Zalatoris. However, he has shown that he can compete week-in and week-out. During the California swing, Zalatoris played seven consecutive weeks and showed no signs of slowing down. I don’t think the fatigue will get to him. He is a Tee-to-Green and Ball-Striking machine. Clubbing down off the tee will allow him to be more accurate and use his irons to give himself birdie chances. In his last eight events, he has seven Top 30 finishes which includes three Top 10 finishes. A win is coming for the young 24-year-old and one of these events he will convert his high finishes into his first PGA Tour victory.

Abraham Ancer 30-1

Ancer does not usually come in at such short odds, but after finishing runner-up here last year, and having a good track record at Pete Dye courses, it makes sense. Over his last 36 rounds, Ancer is ranked 10th in Total Strokes Gained on Pete Dye courses. Ancer is a shorter hitter, who bases his game off of being in the fairway and getting onto the greens in regulation. For the 2021 PGA Tour season, Ancer is ranked second amongst all players in Driving Accuracy Percentage and 14th in Greens-in-Regulation Percentage. The 30-year-old from Mexico has strung together five straight Top 25 finishes. His last Top 10 Finish came back in January at the American Express, a Pete Dye course. RBC Heritage is a tournament that has seen plenty of first-time PGA Tour winners, and Ancer will look to get his maiden PGA Tour win.

Mid-Tier (Longer than 30-1, shorter than 60-1)

Brian Harman 34-1

Harman has been living at the top of leaderboards for the last month and he will look to convert his strong current form into a victory. His last three finishes have been: 12th, fifth, and third place. The two Top 5 finishes came at Pete Dye courses, TPC Sawgrass and Austin Country Club. The only other Top 10 finish that Harman has this season was at the American Express. The former Georgia Bulldog loves Pete Dye courses. The last time Harman won on the PGA Tour was the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship which was held in North Carolina. All of this builds into a perfect profile of a course that Harman should have success on. Harman has been one of the best putters on Tour this season, and a strong short game this week can lead to his first PGA Tour win in almost four years.

Sergio Garcia 45-1

Garcia has already won once this season and he finished fifth place at this event last year. At the WGC Match Play, Garcia advanced to the quarterfinals, and he finished in ninth place at the PLAYERS Championship. He’s played well on Pete Dye courses recently and he is one of the best ball-strikers on Tour. While his Off-the-Tee game will be neutralized by forced layups, his iron play is still very good. Garcia’s putting is always terrifying and while putting is important this week, so is the short game as a whole. What he lacks in pure putting, he makes up for with his around the green play, where he is ranked seventh in this field over his last 24 rounds. I like this number for a player who has flashed upside recently and has clear win equity.

Si-Woo Kim 45-1

Si Woo Kim is the captain of the Pete Dye specialist team. Kim won on at the American Express a few months ago, but his overall Pete Dye performance has been remarkable. Over his last 36 rounds on Pete Dye courses, Kim ranks: first in Tee-to-Green, second in Total Strokes Gained, second Around-the-Green, fourth in Approach, and 16th in Short Game. This is the type of course where the 25-year-old Korean thrives. Kim finished runner-up here in 2018. The three PGA Tour victories for Kim have been at the American Express, The PLAYERS Championship, and the Wyndham Championship. Two Pete Dye course victories, and another victory on a short Bermudagrass course in North Carolina. This is the type of event that he has shown he can win and 45-1 is good value.

Kevin Kisner 60-1

Kisner looked rejuvenated at the WGC Match Play where he won a couple of matchups but wasn’t able to advance past Matt Kuchar. During the WGC, people began bringing his name up for Ryder Cup Team consideration. While he is a great Match Play player, Kisner will need to show a little bit more if he wants to be on that team. A victory will go a long way for Kisner. The 37-year-old has won three times on the PGA Tour and earlier this year, made a comment that he doesn’t think he can win at any golf course. He can only win on the short courses where distance doesn’t matter as much. Kisner was quoted in 2019 saying this is one of his favorite events of the year because it is a course he grew up playing on where he knows he can compete for a victory. Kisner is an elite putter and can find himself right back in the Ryder Cup conversation with a win this week.

Sleepers (Longer than 60-1, shorter than 100-1)

Chris Kirk 65-1

Kirk is having a great 2021 which started with him regaining his Tour card at the Sony Open with a runner-up finish. Sony is a similar event where precision and short game are the main factors to success. Kirk has three Top 25 finishes in his last four events which includes two Top 10s. His recent form has been stellar and the longer he hovers near the top, the closer I think he is to winning again. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Kirk ranks: 15th in Strokes Gained Short Game and 20th in Approach. He ranks well in other statistics as well which is why he was my sixth ranked player this week. However, my focus is on that combination of Approach and Short Game ability. With smaller greens, a bad approach shot will require scrambling to save par. Kirk has excelled in the two most important factors which is why he was one of the first bets I placed this week.  

Emiliano Grillo 75-1

Grillo is a name that pops up on short, coastal courses. Since November, Grillo has four Top 20 finishes. Those finishes came at the RSM, Mayakoba, Puerto Rico, and Corales. All of the courses play similarly to Harbour Town. They are all courses where shorter hitters can excel if they have a good iron game. Grillo hasn’t been great this season, but I like his Birdies-or-Better and Greens-in-Regulation numbers. He ranks 10th in both of those categories over his last 36 rounds. This tells me that when he is striking the ball well, he is converting those gained greens into birdies. This is a week where he can live in the fairway and let his approach game lead the way. 

Ian Poulter 80-1

Poulter is a horse for the course with four straight Top 15 finishes. Poulter is a great wind player, and this is a course where the weather conditions can take over and determine the winner. Poulter has also shown signs of life recently with a good showing at the WGC Match Play, which was followed up with a 26th place finish at the Masters last week. Over his last 36 rounds, Poulter is first in Scrambling and ninth in Putting. If he stays out of trouble off-the-tee, he will be able to allow his short game to shine which could lead to another high finish here.

Kevin Streelman 80-1

Streelman’s name pops up at a few courses each year. The main courses where Streelman has had success are Pebble Beach and the Travelers. However, he has quietly had success at this event as well. His last six appearances at this event has resulted in three Top 7 Finishes. This course makes sense as a good combination of Pebble Beach and Travelers. The Travelers is hosted at TPC River Highlands, a Pete Dye designed course and Pebble Beach features the smallest green complexes on the PGA Tour. Streelman is good, but not great at anything in particular and his balanced approach should translate well this week.

Long Shots (Longer than 100-1)

Aaron Wise 130-1

Wise is a really good approach player who consistently lands on the green in regulation. His biggest weakness is his putter and that was on full display at the Honda Classic, where could’ve been in a position to win if it weren’t for costly three-putts. Over his last 25 measured rounds, Wise is gaining 1.02 strokes per round Tee-to-Green. Getting onto the greens this week is a massive advantage for players but Wise will need to capitalize on these opportunities. At 130-1, Wise could be a good flyer bet or someone to target in Top 40, Top 30 markets.

Patton Kizzire 160-1

Kizzire was my 14th graded player this week, which is pretty surprising. However, when you dive deeper into it, his best finishes have been at Valero, RSM, and Sony. Valero was his most recent event where he finished ninth. RSM and Sony were two correlated courses I looked at because of the similar styles of the course. Additionally, over his last 36 rounds, in this field Kizzire ranks: 14th in Strokes Gained Short Game, 18th in Greens-in-Regulation Gained, and 20th in Putting. At 160-1, Kizzire will almost certainly be on my Top Finishing betting card. 

Rory Sabbatini 210-1

When I’m looking at these long shots, I’m really looking for above average putters. If someone gets unconscious with their putter, it usually results in a high finish or a win. Long shots who have shown they can be good putters are valuable to me because I take a lot of these longshots in higher percentage markets such as Top 40 Finish. Sabbatini is a good putter with good course history. Since 2012, Sabbatini has played this event eight times. During that span, he has two missed cuts and six Top 25 finishes, which includes three Top 10 finishes. 210-1 are crazy odds and one of his best finishes this season came at the American Express where he finished 12th.

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