One Particular Harbour
Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Harbour Town Golf Links
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: Tifeagle Bermudagrass with Poa annua; 3,700 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass with perennial ryegrass playing at 1.38”
Water Hazards: 12
Course Architect: Pete Dye (1969)
Winner’s Share: $1,044,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Carl Pettersson ran away from the field with a five shot victory over Zach Johnson.
Dates: April 17-20
Notes: 144 players this week with the top 70 and ties making the cut.
This is the 45th edition of the RBC Heritage and all of them have been played at Harbour Town.
Payne Stewart (1989-1990), Davis Love III (1991-92) and Boo Weekley (2007-2008) are the only three players to defend their championship.
Since 1999, five players have made the RBC Heritage their first victory on TOUR. Glen Day (1999), Jose Coceres (2001), Peter Lonard (2005), Aaron Baddeley (2006) and Boo Weekley (2007) broke their maidens here.
Since 1969, the first year, there have only been five players who have won on their first trip around Harbour Town. Arnold Palmer (1969), Bob Goalby (1970), Stewart Cink (2000), Jose Coceres and Boo Weekley comprise this very small club. Experience pays around here!
The highest-winning score is 283 (-1) by Arnold Palmer in 1969. Brian Gay holds the tournament record 264 (-20). He set that in 2009.
Tiger Woods is the only multiple winner on TOUR in 2013.
Rank and File
As of Monday evening, 23 of the top 50 in the OWGR are in the field this week.
Time to exhale! The pressure of the first major is behind us and the TOUR pros! This week, the TOUR moves to the Low Country as Hilton Head Island will be the scene of the 45th RBC Heritage.
Pete Dye put together this tight, tree-lined track back in 1969. He incorporated small greens that are only 3,700 square feet on average. What does that mean? Well, to put this in perspective, the teeing areas are 2,500 square feet on average so the putting surfaces are just 33% bigger! If that’s not a big enough challenge, most of the greens are guarded by intricate, large bunkering systems.
After rolling bentgrass greens two of the last three weeks, the players will have to adjust to bits of Poa annua in the Tifeagle Bermudagrass this week. There’s a reason not many young’uns don’t succeed here and the green complexes are one of those reasons. The other reason is the risk-reward that Harbour Town plays. If you can work your golf ball both directions and have the ability to hit small greens, rewards should follow. Players who spray it off the tee must be able to play from tree-lined fairways; players who spray it to the greens must be able to get up and down from traps and collars. Carl Pettersson led the field in GIR here and was T10 in strokes gained-putting. No wonder why he won by five shots…Billy Mayfair finished T4 and his sand save percentage (90%, nine of ten) kept him alive.
Harbour Town checked in at No. 9 in the most difficult courses on TOUR in 2012. Tight fairways, doglegs, small greens and difficult bunkering will do that. So will the tee shot on the difficult hole No. 18. Don’t let the quiet lighthouse in the background fool you this week. I’ll be looking for experienced guys who can work the ball, paint GIR or are top-level putters. Good shots are rewarded around these parts and rough shots will make you work for par. The average winning score here since 2000 is 13-under-par so players will have to find birdies and avoid bogeys as well.
Let’s see who makes the list.
Top 10, Plus One
Luke Donald: After a T2, T3, second finish before last year’s T37, there is no doubt that Donald enjoys a course where his accuracy around the greens isn’t cancelled out by hitting last out of the fairway each time. Oh, and he’ll be in the fairway. His putter and scrambling skills have come in handy over the last four years and I don’t see this year being much different.
Jim Furyk: In his last seven events at RBC, Furyk has chalked up a WIN, second, fourth and T8. No point in overthinking this one.
Jason Day: Usually his length will be the determining factor in how he does on the weekend but as we saw last weekend at the Masters, his short-game, especially from the bunkers, is pretty tight. Sure, he missed a couple of shorties that possibly cost him the green jacket but I believe he’ll be inspired this week after being so close again at Augusta. He was T9 in his last event here in 2011 and he played quite well at that Masters, too!
Brandt Snedeker: Another tough Sunday at Augusta shouldn’t take the light off his great beginning to 2013 and it should have removed any doubts you might have had about his lingering rib problem. He was the winner here in 2011 and was T17 last year so it’s obvious that playing the Masters the week before is not a bother for Snedeker.
Billy Horschel: After finishing second and T3 in his last two events, Horschel had a chance to recharge his battery last week. He’s made 21 consecutive cuts and he’s 23rd in both ball-striking and strokes gained-putting. His next step is closing one of these out!
Matt Kuchar: After his second top 10 at Augusta in the last two years, Kuchar’s confidence should be flying as we enter spring on TOUR. He has only five rounds over par in his last four tournaments here. He’s also seen eight consecutive weekends on Hilton Head, including the last six in a row.
Jason Dufner: He’s shown signs of life recently after sleep-walking through February. In his last four starts he’s finished T21 or better in three of them. In his last four tournaments at RBC he’s made all four cuts and played half of his 16 rounds in the 60s.
Bill Haas: His record on this course won’t shoot him to the top of this list but he’s quietly bagged five top 10s in 10 events so far in 2013. He’s 6th in GIR and his worst finish in his last four events is T20; the other three were all top 10s.
Graeme McDowell: First on TOUR in scrambling and 13th in strokes gained-putting will make GMAC confident about putting a number up this week. This course will also reward one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball on TOUR.
Stewart Cink: The two-time winner at Harbour Town has played some steady golf over the last six events and will be happy to head to a course that obviously fits his eye. Form and history play here.
Boo Weekley: Another two-time champion who has found a run of form recently, Weekley knows what it takes to win around here and that’s excellent ball-striking. He’s made eight cuts on the bounce and staked two top 10s during that stretch. He was second at another tight course, Innisbrook, back in March.