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RBC Heritage Preview: Brandt's Back in Pursuit

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

It was one of the better Masters tournaments in recent memory, yet 24 hours later it seemed just that, a memory. With the events that took place Monday in Boston, it's impossible to simply write about golf today, so we recognize those that had their lives forever altered, and we do what we always do when something like this happens, we move on, just as we should. Some might consider that statement a bit callous, but it's meant to show the resolve of people in this country, for terrorist attacks are meant to harm the spirit of a people, not just the body. The spirit of this country cannot be broken, however, and as such, we keep moving forward, doing what we do, while pausing for at least a moment to recognize that many lost their lives too soon.

Now, back to the reason you are here; let's talk golf. I don't think I can recall a week quite like the one we just witnessed. We had a bit of everything, from a rules controversy involving the best golfer in the world, to a triumphant victory from one of the world's best. Let's start with Tiger. For those who follow me on Twitter, you already know where I stand on this. To put it simply, Tiger did everything the game asked of him, and there was no reason to withdraw. The rules officials failed to do their job on the spot, and Tiger paid the price - a price that was not too steep or too lenient; after all the rule is now in place to cover a golfer in that situation. It is funny, though, as we watched that shot live, who would have thought that it was the end of Tiger's week? We also had a classic ending. It looked for a while that no one would take the reins, and, in fact, two players did, but not until the very last moment. Adam Scott finally hit a putt, and Angel Cabrera hit an approach shot for the ages. From there, some more quality golf in the playoff. You really couldn't ask for more. We have a great player as the new Masters champion and as a bonus, Tiger is still playing well, which should make next month's Players Championship very interesting.

This week:
RBC Heritage

Last Year:
Carl Pettersson shot a final-round 69 on his way to a five-stroke victory over Zach Johnson.

Players to Consider:

1. Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker may not quite be ready for the major stage, but as he proved earlier this season, he can tear apart the field at a regular tour stop. Although he fell apart a bit Sunday, his game is still strong entering this week, and he won here in 2011.

2. Boo Weekley

Boo simply owns this course. He won here in 2007 and 2008 and somehow managed a T6 last year when his game was in awful shape. His game appears to be in better shape this year, and as such, another top-5 is not of the question.

3. Zach Johnson

Johnson is not off to a great start this season, but he's starting to show signs that his game is coming back, and if that is the case, he will be a factor this week. Johnson finished runner-up here last year to Carl Pettersson.

4. Jim Furyk

Is this the week Furyk finally gets back into the winner's circle? It's certainly possible as his track record here is outstanding, and his game is pretty solid. In addition to his victory in 2010, Furyk also has two runner-up finishes on his resume here.

5. Jason Day

It will be interesting to see if Day can bounce-back mentally this week after his disappointing Masters finish. If he can get through round one, he should be fine. Day finished in the top 10 his last time here in 2011.

Players to Avoid:

1. Sean O'Hair

O'Hair has played Harbour Town five times with only one good showing, a top-10 in 2007. O'Hair has been all over the place this year with two top-20s, two WDs and three MCs. You simply never know what you are going to get with O'Hair.

2. Ernie Els

Els had a decent week at the Masters, but that came on a course where he's had a lot of success. Although he's played well at Harbour Town, it hasn't come recently as Els has missed the cut in three of his last four tries.

3. Bud Cauley

Cauley's game appears to be rounding into form entering this week, but his play is still way too erratic to be a serious contender. His track record here leaves a lot to be desired as he's only played here twice, with one missed cut.

4. Robert Allenby

Not that anyone would consider Allenby based on his play this year, but just in case anyone thinks he might turn it around this week, think again. Allenby has missed the cut here in his last three visits and has only one top-20 in eight tries overall.

5. Graeme McDowell

Perhaps if the field was thin this week you could consider using McDowell, but with the field as is, and McDowell's less than stellar track record here, it's probably best to pass on him this week.


Group A

1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Boo Weekley

There isn't much in Group A beyond these two players, so it makes the selection of Snedeker and Weekley fairly easy. This might be the only spot for the remainder of the season where Weekley is a good option in Group A. Snedeker is the top pick in Group A this week.

Group B

1. Jim Furyk
2. Zach Johnson
3. Luke Donald
4. Matt Kuchar
A lot of big names in Group B again this week, and unlike years past when I'd try to get fancy and find a sleeper to replace one of these guys, this week I'm just going with the chalk, if you will.

Group C

1. Billy Horschel
2. Jason Day

A never ending list of players to choose from in Group C this week, but not much quality beyond Day. I take that back, Horschel has been very good lately, but the week off might have quelled his momentum. That said, he's still the pick this week opposite Day in Group C.

Starters Round One

1. Boo Weekley
2. Jim Furyk
3. Zach Johnson
4. Jason Day

I'm picking my spots Thursday concerning possible Masters hangovers. I'll stick with Day and bench Snedeker to start things out Thursday, but there's a good reason for Snedeker benching. Weekley is money on this course and even though he's not the player he was a few years ago, his game has come back a bit recently. As for Day, he gets the start by default as this is Horschel's first time here. Furyk and Johnson start in Group B based on their track records here. Johnson doesn't have a long history of playing well here, but the runner-up last year combined with his improved play recently is enough to warrant a start.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Even with his outstanding history here, Weekley is not locked into his spot in Group A this week, so I'll keep a close eye on how Snedeker starts Thursday. If both players start well, then I'll likely make the switch to Sneds in round two. Group B is tough to call, as there is so much talent. With names like Furyk, Johnson, Kuchar and Donald, you really just have to wait and see how it plays out. If there is a toss-up, I'll give the edge to Furyk, but everyone else is on level ground starting the week. Group C could be Day's all week if he starts well, but if he shows any ill-effect from the Masters, then I'll move quickly and get Horschel in the lineup.