This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.278M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
2018 champion: C.T. Pan
The PGA Tour's return was an unmitigated success. But as they say in the financial world, past performance does not guarantee future success. In other words, each week the Tour will be testing for COVID-19 and holding its collective breath that the pandemic does not infiltrate its universe. Okay, that completes the Debbie Downer portion of the program.
It's now on to Harbour Town, the famed Pete Dye-designed public course. Most of the big names from the loaded Colonial field hopped on board the golf caravan and have touched down on Hilton Head Island. But someone in particular, again, is missing. Yes, Golf Twitter got all excited when it was reported that Tiger Woods' yacht was heading from Florida to South Carolina. When the RBC Heritage field was released late Friday afternoon, alas, Tiger was not in it. You know how they say you have to start your car every so often to keep the battery from dying? Who knows, maybe you have do to the same thing with a yacht.
After venturing into the Great Unknown last week while deciphering the DFS landscape, we at least have one tournament to guide us this week. Like Colonial, Harbour Town is a shorter, more tactical track. Unlike the CS Challenge, the RBC Heritage boasts a quality field every year despite it being played the week after the Masters. You'd think the top players would take a pass, but so many of them love, love, LOVE this place that they come back year after year and year – despite having to wear that hideous plaid jacket if they win. Also like Colonial, Harbour Town is the only course this tournament has ever been played on. In 1969, an aging Arnold Palmer, winless for more than a year, came to Hilton Head Island and captured the inaugural Heritage Golf Classic.
The top six players in the world rankings and eight of the top 10 are on hand. Pretty much all the big names in last week's field are entered again, save Marc Leishman and Kevin Na, whose WD lowered the field to 153. Some newcomers this week are Hideki Matsuyama, Tyrrell Hatton and Brandt Snedeker. Besides Tiger, those who have skipped both events are Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari. Cantlay is the most curious omission, as the others are international golfers whose travel has been affected by pandemic measures.
So, why do so many greats come here year after year? Maybe because Harbour Town reminds them of a bygone era, when golf courses weren't a-thousandy-billion yards long. This quaint little track checks in under 7,100 yards, and the golfers will have to be more tacticians than bombers. Matt Kuchar is back for the 14th straight year and has said the narrow, tree-lined fairways, dog legs, water hazards and tiny greens "make it exciting to try to truly play chess around this golf course." Kuchar got his checkmate when he won the tournament in 2014. He is part of a who's-who of former champions here that could fill a wing in the Hall of Fame. Beginning with Palmer, who was 40 when he won, get a load of this list: Nicklaus (who consulted on Dye's design), Miller, Watson, Irwin, Faldo, Langer, Norman, Stewart, Price, Furyk and five-time champion Davis Love III.
Harbour Town underwent extensive renovations in 2015. A year later, Hurricane Matthew roared through, felling thousands of trees on the island. What we've seen the past four years are some pretty close winning scores. Branden Grace won at 9-under-par in 2016, Wesley Bryan at 13-under the following year, and Satoshi Kodaira and C.T. Pan both at 12-under the last two years. That goes to show you that a short track still can have some teeth. Last season, Harbour Town was the 11th-hardest course on Tour. Its best defenses are wind, 17 water hazards and greens that average less than 4,000 square feet. That makes getting on the green in regulation a challenge. This is traditionally the hardest GIR week of the season, and therefore there is a premium on scrambling. More on that in the Key Stats and Champion's Profile below. The signature hole is the 18th, a 472-yarder leading to the famed red-and-white-striped lighthouse and marina. Fittingly, it was the hardest hole on the course a year ago, and it usually is.
Weather-wise, let's keep in mind that that the tournament is taking place about two months later than it usually does. After a good deal of rain leading up to Thursday's opening round, including early practice days this week, it should be pretty dry for all 72 holes, with only a 20 percent chance of rain each day. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-upper 80s and the wind could be blowing all four days.
Key Stats to Winning at Harbour Town
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
A long hitter hasn't won here in forever, but that's only because Dustin Johnson imploded last year. Carrying a one-stroke lead into the final round, he ballooned to a 77 and plummeted to a tie for 28th. That opened the door for Pan to secure his first Tour win. Pan, Kodaira and Bryan were all well outside the top 100 in driving distance the years they won. Bryan and Kodaira were real outliers, as they have since fallen off the PGA Tour map. What makes this course so hard for the long hitters? For one, at the 300-yard mark the fairways narrow to an average of 22 yards, just about the slimmest we see all year. The week generally results in the shortest average drives of any tournament and the worst greens-in-regulation numbers. Firing at the tiny greens, even the most accurate iron players will see their GIR numbers dip. Bryan ranked 66th in the field in GIR – almost unheard of for a tournament champion – but he was first in scrambling and 11th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Kodaira took a more conventional path, ranking seventh in GIR, first in proximity, 13th in scrambling and 16th in SG: Putting. Pan was 37th in GIR but fifth in SG: Putting. As we often say, smaller greens tend to neutralize the better putters. That doesn't necessarily mean that putting won't matter this week; it's just that poorer putters have a better chance of having a good putting week. If your guy isn't winning heading into Sunday, take heart with this little nugget: The past seven winners at Harbour Town have rallied from at least two shots back on the final day.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Rory McIlroy - $11,300 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 12-1)
McIlroy had his worst finish in almost a year when he tumbled into a tie for 32nd at Colonial. It wasn't a case of rust – he shot in the 60s the first three days – but just one poor final round. The world's No. 1 hasn't played Harbour Town before, but he's ranked sixth on Tour in SG: Approach and third in scrambling, which means he's well-suited to play four good rounds this week.
Justin Thomas - $10,900 (14-1)
Thomas overtook Brooks Koepka to move into the No. 3 spot in the OWGR this past week. Like McIlroy, he played three good rounds before falling back on Sunday, only not as far as Rory did. Thomas had a great scrambling week at Colonial, ranking third in the field. He has played this event twice before, in 2015 and 2016, and tied for 11th in his debut.
Bryson DeChambeau - $10,700 (14-1)
In his last four starts, DeChambeau has finished second, third, fourth and fifth. There's only one number missing there. He tied for third in his Colonial debut and now heads to a track he's not only familiar with, but has excelled at. DeChambeau owns third- and fourth-place finishes at Harbour Town, but he has missed the cut twice.
Sungjae Im - $9,700 (30-1)
Im quietly had a terrific week in Texas, flying under the radar because he was never in contention to win. Still, his tie for 10th placed him higher than some of those who were in the mix on Sunday. Im's game really has no weakness, something that should serve him well at a course where golfers will need most every club in the bag. He's ranked 30th in SG: Approach and 31st in scrambling.
Tier 2 Values
Justin Rose - $9,200 (30-1)
What's the old line about a good craftsman never blaming his tools? Well, Rose would be excused for blaming his Honma clubs for his disastrous start to the 2019-20 season. Having fully abandoned them and returning to TaylorMade for Colonial, Rose came a whisker shy of joining Sunday's playoff. We won't offer any season-long stats – they're terrible. We will tell you that Rose finished top-25 last week in every major stat save driving distance.
Webb Simpson - $9,000 (25-1)
Simpson ruined the week for us and many gamers with his no-doubt-about-it missed cut at Colonial. The North Carolina native plays this event just about every year and has never missed the cut. Simpson has finished top-20 six times in his past nine visits.
Patrick Reed - $8,800 (30-1)
Reed owns perhaps the best wedge-putter combination on Tour, which certainly bodes well at a course where short game is paramount. He's ranked second on Tour in putting and 22nd in scrambling. Now ranked at a career-best No. 6 in the OWGR, Reed doesn't have a great record at Harbour Town. But he also hasn't played there since 2015.
Matt Kuchar - $8,300 (40-1)
Kuchar doubled his 36th and – as it turns out – final hole at Colonial to wash away his weekend. Perhaps nobody in the field outside of Davis Love III has a better RBC Heritage history than Kuchar, who was runner-up to C.T. Pan last year and won it all in 2014. He has two other top-10s and three other top-25s in the last decade.
Tier 3 Values
Tyrrell Hatton - $8,000 (50-1)
Hatton was not in the field last week, so we are flying a bit blind here. When we last saw the Englishman, he was winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And before that he tied for sixth at the WGC-Mexico in his first tournament in over four months after recovering from wrist surgery. So, long layoffs don't faze him. Hatton has played only four events all season, and has only eight measured rounds, but that's enough to lead the Tour in all of SG: Approach, Tee-to-Green and Total. He finished 29th in this event in 2017 and missed the cut the following year.
Ian Poulter - $7,600 (80-1)
Poulter does not have great results so far this season, but he has made the cut in all six starts and has two top-25s. His short game is still potent, with a ranking of 25th in scrambling and 19th in SG: Putting. And he has a great history at Harbour Town. Poulter has four top-20s over the past five years, including top-10s in the last two.
J.T. Poston - $7,500 (80-1)
Poston is up to a career-best 65th in the world after last week's tie for 10th. He was second in the field in scrambling and 14th in SG: Putting. Poston finished tied for sixth in his Harbour Town debut a year ago.
Bubba Watson - $7,400 (100-1)
Warning: It seems like when we pick Bubba, he doesn't play well; when we don't pick him, he does. But there's no denying Watson has been an outstanding putter this season, and that continued last week at Colonial, as he tied ninth in SG: Putting and finished tied for seventh. Watson's game off the tee continues to be elite. This will be his Harbour Town debut.
Bud Cauley - $7,200 (125-1)
We'd really like Cauley a lot more if he were, say, $200 cheaper. But he really is one of the Tour's top scramblers – he's currently ranked ninth and last season was 14th. Cauley has played this event five times, making four cuts with a best of T9 in 2017. He tied for 29th last week at Colonial.
Maverick McNealy- $7,100 (150-1)
The 24-year-old made it 12 cashes in his past 13 starts with a tie for 32nd at Colonial. He is ranked 13th on Tour in scrambling and 25th in SG: Putting. Really, the potential for a high finish is very real.
Talor Gooch - $7,000 (200-1)
13 made cuts in a row? We're not going anywhere. Gooch simply finds a way to make it to the weekend no matter the course. He did it last week at Colonial, where he tied for 43rd. This will be Gooch's Harbour Town debut.
Brian Stuard - $6,600 (300-1)
Stuard has made five straight cuts in the RBC Heritage, including a tie for 16th a year ago and a tie for fifth in 2014. His biggest weakness is that he's incredibly short off tee, averaging barely 280 yards. That won't be an issue this week. Stuard is ranked 13th on Tour in SG: Around-the-Green. He tied for 43rd at Colonial thanks to a Sunday 64.