DraftKings PGA: RBC Heritage

DraftKings PGA: RBC Heritage

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.

RBC HERITAGE  

Purse: $7.1M  
Winner's Share: $1.278M  
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner  
Location: Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links  
Yardage: 7,121  
Par: 71
2020 champion: Webb Simpson

Tournament Preview

The week after a major is normally not the best place to be on the PGA Tour calendar. But every year when we first see the field for the RBC Heritage and it's pretty strong, we have to remind ourselves: That rule doesn't apply to Harbour Town. On the heels of the Masters, five of the top-10 golfers in the world, 12 of the top-25 and an impressive 31 of the top-50 are in the 135-man field. And it would've been six top-10s had Bryson DeChambeau not pulled out after the field was published.

South Carolina native and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the headliner, joined by defending champion Webb Simpson, Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Cantlay. Oh, and we can't forget Will Zalatoris, now up to No. 27 in the world after his remarkable runner-up at Augusta. (Zalatoris will be playing for the ninth time in 11 weeks, but it's looking like he'll take next week off at the Zurich Classic team event.)

Last year, the RBC Heritage was moved to June because of the pandemic and it was the second tournament after the restart, following the Charles Schwab at Colonial. So it had an off-the-charts field. But it's always pretty good. You'd think the top players would take a pass the week after a major or big tournament (See: Honda Classic, week after THE PLAYERS). But so many of them love, love, love this 1969 Pete Dye design they come back year after year and year – despite having to wear that hideous plaid jacket if they win. As with 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.

So why do so many greats come here year after year? Maybe because Harbour Town reminds of a bygone era, when golf courses weren't a-thousandy-billion yards. No, this quaint little track checks in 7,100ish yards, and the golfers will have to be more tacticians than bombers. Matt Kuchar is back for the 15th 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 with Dye), Miller, Watson, Irwin, Faldo, Langer, Norman, Stewart, Price, Furyk and five-time champion Davis Love III, who is in the field again this time around.  

Harbour Town underwent extensive renovations in 2015. A year later, Hurricane Matthew roared through, felling thousands of trees on the island. What we saw the next four years were some pretty tight scores. Branden Grace won at 9-under in 2016, followed by Wesley Bryan's 13-under, and then 12-under by Satoshi Kodaira (2018) and C.T. Pan (2019), which goes to show that a short track still can have some teeth. Last year, played in June, it was far easier, the fifth easiest track on Tour all year as Simpson set the scoring record at 22-under.

Harbour Town's best defenses are wind, water on every hole and bermudagrass greens that average less than 4,000 square feet. That makes getting on the green in regulation a challenge. This is traditionally one of the hardest GIR weeks of the season and therefore there is a premium on scrambling. The signature hole is the 18th, a 472-yarder leading to the famed red-and-white-striped lighthouse and marina. Fittingly, it usually is the hardest hole on the course.

Before last year's tournament, they expanded the fairways on more than half the holes – No. 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 – making it hard to determine whether the low scores from a year ago were related to that or the one-time move to June. The official Golf Course Superintendents sheet also noted that the "area had a cold, wet winter, which was not good for the bermudagrass. Course has seen extensive play during pandemic." As is always the case in April, the bermudagrass greens have been overseeded with Poa trivialis.

Weather-wise, it could be a wet, cooler week ahead. Showers are in the forecast every day but Friday. While temperatures will be in the mids-70s Thursday and Sunday, they will be hard-pressed to get out of the 60s the other two days. Right now, the only windy day is looking like Thursday.

Fun Palmetto State factoid: We can't call it a South Carolina Swing, but the PGA Tour will be in the state three of the next nine weeks. The PGA Championship comes to Kiawah Island next month and then the Palmetto Championship at Congaree will be played the second week in June before the U.S. Open. That tournament is a one-time replacement on the schedule for the Canadian Open, which has been pandemic-canceled for a second straight year.

Key Stats to Winning at Harbour Town 

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.

• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Accuracy
• Strokes Gained: Putting

Past Champions

2020 - Webb Simpson
2019 - C.T. Pan
2018 - Satoshi Kodaira
2017 - Wesley Bryan
2016 - Branden Grace  
2015 - Jim Furyk
2014 - Matt Kuchar
2013 - Graeme McDowell
2012 - Carl Pettersson
2011 - Brandt Snedeker

Champion's Profile

A long hitter hasn't won here in forever, but that's only because Dustin Johnson imploded in 2019. 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. As mentioned above, scores were much lower last year, and it's hard to determine why. What we do know is that Simpson ranked eighth in the field in SG: Approach, seventh in Tee-to-Green and second in Putting. And yet he won by only one shot over Abraham Ancer, who lost strokes on the greens and was ranked 61st in Putting. The last four winners – Simpson, Pan, Kodaira and Bryan – were all 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 it 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 (that's still the case, even with the widening of many fairways last 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 greens in regulation, almost unheard of for a tournament champion. But he was first in scrambling and 11th in SG: Putting. As we often say, smaller greens tend to neutralize the better putters. That doesn't necessarily mean that putting doesn'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: Until last year, seven straight Harbour Town winners had rallied from at least two shots back on the final day.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

Tier 1 Values

Patrick Cantlay - $10,900 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 16-1)
One of the biggest shockers at the Masters last week was Cantlay missing the cut. On the bright side, he's fresher than most of the other top guys this week (the only guy ahead of him on the DraftKings board, Dustin Johnson at $11,600, also MCed). Cantlay missed last year's tournament as he was slow returning from the pandemic. But in the three previous years at Harbour Town he finished T3-T7-T3. Cantlay is ranked third on Tour in scrambling.

Webb Simpson - $10,700 (12-1)
Simpson had the absolutely beautiful price of $9,000 last year. No such luck this time around. But he still checks off all the boxes to be a value pick, even if not quite the same value. He ranks fifth on Tour in driving accuracy, 23rd in greens in regulation, first (!) in scrambling and 13th in SG: Putting. Simpson tied for 12th last week at Augusta.

Collin Morikawa - $10,500 (20-1)
If you ever needed one guy to hit an accurate shot to save your life, Morikawa would be a pretty good option. He is ranked sixth on Tour in driving accuracy and fifth in greens in regulation. His short game isn't the best, but he likely will rely on it less just about anyone else in the field this week. Morikawa finished T64 in his RBC Heritage debut last year.

Will Zalatoris - $9,700 (30-1)
If Zalatoris can finish second in his first trip to Augusta, how much of a hurdle will Harbour Town be? Actually, the quirkiness of the course could present some issues, but Zalatoris has passed test after test. So even though this will be his ninth tournament in 11 weeks, we don't want to be kicking ourselves come Sunday evening.

Tier 2 Values

Corey Conners - $9,300 (35-1)
If Morikawa was somehow unavailable to hit that life-saving shot, Conners would be a pretty good backup plan. He is ranked seventh on Tour in driving accuracy and 10th in greens in regulation. The statistics say he actually has a better short game than Morikawa, and he is a vastly improved putter. Conners tied for eighth last week at the Masters and for 21st a year ago at the RBC Heritage.

Abraham Ancer - $8,900 (30-1)
Ancer has some unfinished business from a year ago, when he came oh-so-close to his first PGA Tour win. He came up just short in a shootout with Webb Simpson. He is ranked second Tour in driving accuracy and 14th in greens in regulation. He's also a good scrambler, ranked 36th. Ancer just missed a top-25 last week at the Masters, winding up tied for 26th.

Sergio Garcia - $8,600 (40-1)
The keys on the keyboard always seems to get a little sticky when we try to type out S-E-R-G ... sort of a built-in defense mechanism to avoid silly picks. But here we are, going with Garcia after yet another missed cut at the Masters – that's three in the four years since he won (and he missed last year's tournament altogether after testing positive). But there's no denying he was top-10 at THE PLAYERS and a quarterfinalist at the Match Play and tied for fifth in his Harbour Town debut a year ago with three 65s and is ranked 25th on Tour in greens in regulation and 20th in scrambling and nothing can ever go wrong when picking Sergio.

Harris English - $8,400 (40-1)
English has expectedly taken a few steps back after winning the Tournament of Champions back in January. But he's been regaining his form with a T26 at Bay Hill and then a T21 at the Masters. He is ranked eighth on Tour in scrambling. He tied for 17th here last year and for 25th the year before.

Tier 3 Values

Kevin Na - $8,100 (40-1)
Na didn't play last year's tournament but tied for 10th in 2019, his fourth Harbour Town top-10 over the past decade. He was T4 in 2016. There always seems to be the WD possibility with Na – the latest one was at THE PLAYERS – but he's also coming off a tie for 12th at Augusta. He is ranked third on Tour in SG: Around-the-Green.

Russell Henley - $7,900 (60-1)
At No. 59 in the world, Henley was the highest-ranked golfer not in the Masters field. And you know he had to absolutely know that. Henley doesn't have the greatest recent track record here – missed cuts the past two years – but he has finished as high as sixth back in 2013. And his stats certainly suggest a made cut and perhaps much more: He's ranked 27th in driving accuracy, eighth in greens in regulation, fifth in scrambling and a decent 50th in SG: Putting.

Ian Poulter - $7,600 (80-1)
Poulter is back at Harbour Town for the seventh straight year and he's made every cut. He's finished in the top-15 four years running, two of them top-10. He's ranked 21st on Tour in driving accuracy and an elite fourth in scrambling. Poulter is coming off a near-top-25 at the Masters, tying for 26th.

Kevin Streelman - $7,300 (80-1)
Streelman missed the cut last year in a loaded field but was top-10 the two previous years. He was one of the highest ranked players not to qualify for the Masters. He made it to the round-of-16 at the Match Play and has two other top-25s this year. Streelman is ranked 17th on Tour in greens in regulation.

Long-Shot Values

J.T. Poston- $7,100 (100-1)
Poston has played Harbour Town twice and finished top-10 both times – T8 last year and T6 the year before. The North Carolina native went to Western Carolina, so maybe that has something to do with it. He's also coming off a recent top-25 at THE PLAYERS. Poston does not have much supporting evidence statistically other than he's ranked sixth on Tour in SG: Putting.

Matthew NeSmith - $6,900 (150-1)
At perhaps the toughest track on Tour for greens in regulation, sign us up for the Tour leader in greens in regulation. Our ol' pal NeSmith, whom we rely on so many weeks, is back in the $6,000s. He had a couple of blips in Florida but has gotten back on track his past two times out, including a tie for 34th at the Valero. NeSmith tied for 33rd in his RBC Heritage debut a year ago – in a field far stronger than this one.

Chase Seiffert - $6,700 (200-1)
The Florida State alum has made five of his past six cuts. Two of them were opposite-field events, but three of them weren't (math!), including a tie for third at the Honda. Seiffert is ranked a better-than-average 51st in greens in regulation and 25th in scrambling heading into his Harbour Town debut.

Jason Dufner - $6,300 (300-1)
You want to get a sixth guy through to the weekend? You don't have a lot left from your $50,000? Your first choice probably isn't: 44-year-old guy ranked 369th in the world. But Dufner has made the Harbour Town cut eight of his past nine tries, including last year, with three top-25s and was 11th just four years ago (when he was 40). He's also recently made the cut at the Honda and Bay Hill and just missed a top-25 at Pebble Beach. What are his season stats, you ask? Don't ask.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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