The first Major Championship of the golf season has come and gone. Now it is down the road a piece from Augusta to Hilton Head, South Carolina as the PGA Tour visits beautiful Harbour Town Golf Links.
It seems a bit difficult for both players and golf fans to come off of The Masters and get right back into the Tour schedule the very next week but it is not quite what it appears. Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina is less than a 150-mile trip from Augusta, Georgia and the players love this classic golf course and beautiful setting. While yes, some may be worn out from the mental and physical test that The Masters presents, The Heritage can be a bit of a reprieve from the intensity experienced in Augusta. 34-players from the field at The Masters will play here this week and while this week may be more relaxing, it is no pushover in terms of the difficulty of the golf course.
The wind did blow at Harbour Town last year and it ranked as the 8th hardest course on the 2016 schedule. Far different from the length needed off of the tee and the creativity required around the greens at Augusta National, Harbour Town is more straightforward. It is a short golf course and has some of the smallest greens on Tour. One must drive it accurately, hit greens in regulation, and when missing these tiny targets, scramble very well. Scoring on the Par 5’s is critical at The Masters but at The Heritage it is more about scoring on the Par 4’s. More accuracy and precision this week versus distance and deft touch last week. Very little wind is in the forecast. It ought to be a beautiful week to watch and to play, seaside in Hilton Head.
Matt Kuchar (+1417 Bookmaker) No doubting that Matt Kuchar is indeed a horse for this course. He won The Heritage back in 2014 and has another four Top 10 finishes to go along with that. He comes in on a roll after taking 4th last week at The Masters.
Brandt Snedeker (+2000 5Dimes) A mixed bag of results here for Snedeker who won back in 2011 and has two other Top 20 finishes but in ten overall visits, he has also missed the cut three times including last year.
Branden Grace (+2556 Bookmaker) Your defending champion was not anything extra special last year in Driving Accuracy but he was in Putting, Scrambling, and Greens in Regulation. He arrives after a solid 27th at The Masters and also finished 7th here at Harbour Town in his 2015 tournament debut.
Russell Henley (+27.91 Pinnacle) Henley is off to a wonderful 2017 campaign and comes in on a real roll, finishing 11th at The Masters and winning in Houston the week before. Feast or famine here in Hilton Head as in four visits he’s gone 23-Cut-Cut-6.
Bill Haas (+33.29 Pinnacle) Haas’ game would seem perfect for this venue but in twelve tries, he’s missed the cut five times. He does have three Top 30 finishes and a 14th last year. He has not missed a cut on Tour yet this season and took 36th at The Masters.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+3388 Bookmaker) The young Englishman was cut here last year and 23rd in his debut the year prior. He’s been playing very well as of late with a 16th at The WGC Mexico, 13th at Bay Hill, 17th at The WGC Match Play and a 32nd just last week in Augusta.
The Long Shots
Francesco Molinari (+4500 5Dimes) Molinari has only played here a couple of times and did finish 45th here last year. He’s proven to be very solid on Pete Dye courses, taking 7th and 6th the last two seasons at The Players. He’s coming off of a 33rd at The Masters and is 2nd on Tour in Driving Accuracy.
William McGirt (+4400 Pinnacle) Feeling right at home in The Carolinas, William McGirt also has to be pretty pleased with how well he did last week up the road in Georgia. He very much fits the mold of this golf course and it shows with two 9th place finishes in the last three years.
Chris Kirk (+11000 5Dimes) A Georgia Bulldog and Atlanta native, Kirk knows these parts well too. His results this season have been decent, some cuts, some Top 10’s, some Top 20’s.. similar to his track record at Harbour Town. Kirk ranks 6th on Tour in Par 4 Scoring.
Jason Dufner (+3800 5Dimes) Dufner in my opinion, has been sneaky good all year long. He’s played The Heritage eight times and is on run of seven straight cuts made at the event, finishing as high as 14th in 2011. Off of a very respectable 33rd at The Masters, Dufner has finished in the Top 15 three times in the last six weeks. He is very accurate off of the tee, scrambles well, and is putting much better this season than maybe he ever has. He has been lurking this season and I think this week he comes to the forefront.
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