What a Masters week it was with Hideki Matsuyama holding on to outlast Will Zalatoris and become the first Japanese golfer to ever put on the green jacket. Xander Schauffele turned a boring Sunday into an exciting one, cutting Matsuyama’s lead to two with three holes to play before finding water on the famous par-3 16th and triple-bogeying to drop back to a tie for third with Jordan Spieth.
The Tour now turns its attention to Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the 2021 RBC Heritage, where the field is uncharacteristically packed this year. Most year after the Masters, many of the top golfers take the week off. But in this case, half of the Masters field will be playing this week. Webb Simpson won this event last year, shooting 22-under par to hold off Abraham Ancer by one shot.
Course Breakdown and Weather
Harbour Town is a Pete Dye-designed course that plays very uniquely compared to other PGA Tour stops. It is a par 71 that measures out to roughly 7,100 yards, so while it is relatively short, it features the smallest greens on the Tour. This places a principle on iron play and ball striking if competitors intend to find greens in regulation.
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Driving distance does not provide much of an advantage at this track because finding fairways tends to be more important than mashing the ball a long way. Anyone who can consistently find fairways and greens in regulation can find themselves in contention here, which opens the door for the longshots. Wind should not be much of a factor throughout the week, but rain showers are expected to hit on Thursday and Saturday that could delay the completion of those rounds as scheduled.
The favorite this week is world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (+1000), despite the fact that Johnson was unable to make the cut at Augusta last week while defending his Masters title. Reigning champion Simpson (+1200) comes in next on the list as this course fits his game perfectly with the emphasis placed on iron play and putting as opposed to distance off the tee.
Patrick Cantlay (+1400) ranks next-highest on the odds board after a disappointing week at the Masters where he could never get going. And although Cantlay’s recent form is a concern, he has never finished worse than seventh at Harbour Town in three starts. Collin Morikawa (+2000), Daniel Berger (+2200), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2200), and Cameron Smith (+2500) fill in the next group of favorites, but the only favorite worth a bet this week is Tyrrell Hatton (+2500).
Hatton finished third here a year ago, where he was unable to catch back up after an opening-round, even-par 71, despite shooting 20-under par over the next three days. He was struggling earlier in the year but seemed to find something last week, finishing tied for 18th at Augusta with fantastic iron play all week long. Take a chance on Hatton to keep striking the ball well and get hot with his putter this week to win his second PGA Tour event.
Best Value Plays
The middle tier features a couple of guys who were in contention on the weekend at the Masters, such as Corey Conners (+3000) and runner-up Will Zalatoris (+3300). And the focus this week should be on Zalatoris.
The world was shown how good of a ball striker Zalatoris was on the weekend and while typically it is a bad idea to take someone so young and inexperienced coming off an obviously mentally draining week, Zalatoris seemed to be relaxed and having fun as he gained popularity on social media throughout the week.
The 24-year-old already has some of the best iron play on the entire circuit, and that is exactly what is required to win this week. One week after he was in contention at Augusta in his first Masters and did not blink, being in the mix on the weekend at the RBC Heritage is not out of the realm of possibility and will not rattle him in the slightest, making him worth the first bet of the middle tier.
Si Woo Kim already has a win this season at the American Express. Kim struck the ball great last week at the Masters in route to a tie for 12th place. Kim has also had success at Harbour Town in the past, losing in a playoff to Satoshi Kodaira here in 2018. Kim can play with the big boys, as he won the 2017 Players Championship at just 21 years old, not to mention that he held off Cantlay at this year’s American Express.
Kisner lost in a playoff six years ago and owns three finishes of 11th place or better in eight appearances in this event. Kisner missed the cut at the Masters, but excluding 2020 (Masters was not played the week prior), 2018 was the only year that the RBC Heritage champion made the cut the previous week before teeing it up at Harbour Town. Granted the fields tended to be a lot weaker than the one we are seeing this week, but it is worth backing someone undervalued due to struggles at Augusta last week.
Longshots have had success here in the past with C.T. Pan winning in 2019, Wesley Bryan in 2017 and Brendan Grace in 2016 when all were far down the odds boards.
Henley lacks distance off the tee, which has held him back in the past at some other venues. But with distance off the tee being neutralized this week, his approach game should put him in a position to go low. All he will need is his putter to heat up and he can find himself near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.
The Georgia Bulldog picked up two PGA Tour wins last season and found himself in contention frequently in the 2020 season. He does not hit the ball far off the tee, but last season he showed that what he lacked in distance off the tee he could easily make up for near the greens. Todd has not been able to figure it out since the Tour moved into 2021, but at 110-1, Todd is worth a play because if he gets hot with his irons and putts like he did most of last year, he will be right there in the thick of things.
The first golfer worth a top-10 play this week is Kevin Streelman (+500). Streelman has already picked up two top-10 finishes so far this season, bringing the total of top-10 finishes for the 42-year-old golfer’s career to an impressive 46.
Streelman cannot gain distance off the tee box anymore, but he is still sharp with his irons and his putter, which will be more than enough to keep him in contention this week. He missed at this event last season, but finished tied for sixth back in 2019.
Wallace struggled earlier this year with his ball striking but has found it over the past two weeks, finishing in third at the Valero Texas Open and tied for 34th last week in the Masters. He found himself right there to win the Valero, but did not play well on Sunday — which is why you should avoid taking him to win outright as a longshot. Wallace has the skill set that matches what is required at Harbour Town and for that reason he is worth a bet to finish inside the top 10 at 6-1.
Matchup Play of The Week
The matchup play of the week takes place among a couple of favorites this week, Daniel Berger (+105) over Dustin Johnson. It always is a bold move to take anyone head-to-head against the best player in the world, but this would be the golf course to do it at. DJ cannot seem to figure Harbour Town out, finishing outside of the top 15 here in each of the last three years.
The course cannot be bombed and gouged so DJ will need to find fairways and greens in regulation consistently if he wants to find himself in contention. Based on his recent form, that is going to be a very tall task. Back Daniel Berger at plus money to finish ahead of the World No.1 while the public loses their money on Dustin Johnson for yet another year at the RBC Heritage.