After an exciting Masters event last week golfers will move north a few hundred miles to play the RBC Heritage Classic from Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Harbour Town is a 7,100 yard par 71 with four par 3s and three par 5s. Off the tee golfers will have to deal with tight, tree lined fairways with thick woods, bunkers, and water being a problem for golfers who miss wildly off the tee. The fairways are tight but over 66% of fairways are hit during the tournament’s past (which is above average) meaning most golfers will be hitting less than driver to place their balls in the right location. This course is the definition of target golf. If golfers hit it on the wrong side of the fairway, they might have a blocked second shot because of all the overhanging trees that surround the fairway. On the other hand if they miss the fairway but hit it on the correct side and not in the woods, they will have easier approach shots than golfers who hit it on the fairway but on the wrong side. The rough is not too thick but it will make approach shots much tougher to the small greens.
The greens are some of the smallest on Tour but are only slightly undulated. They will be playing slow with a stimpmeter rating of around 11 and the grass on the greens is TifEagle Bermuda. Golfers will need to be accurate with their approaches not only because of the small size of the greens but also because of the obstacles around the green. There are bunkers around almost every hole and water will be a factor around a few greens as well. Another bit of trouble the golfers will face around the greens are over hanging trees. A couple of holes actually have trees right in front of the green on both sides, making it look almost like a field goal post. So on these holes, if a golfers misses a little left or right, the trees will knock the ball down and leave tough chip shots onto the small greens. Weather could also play a part this week because Harbour Town is a seaside course.
As of now it looks like there is rain in the forecast with a decent amount of wind as well. Check the weather closer to Thursday to see if the AM/PM or PM/AM wave will have an easier go of the course the first two days. One last note about the course, they shut down the course for a few months during the past year to get new turf on the greens and fairways. Usually when golf courses do this the greens tend to play firmer than usual for at least the first year. Keep an eye out on what golfers are saying about this as the week progresses. It could make these greens even harder to hit than they already are. Needless to say, accuracy trumps power on this course by a wide margin.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.
Good Drive % (GD%) with a focus on Driving Accuracy (DA):
GD% is defined as “On Par 4 and Par 5’s, the number of fairways hit, + the # of Greens or fringe in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway on the tee shot. / by the number of par 4 and par 5’s played.” I think this is a good stat to focus on because hitting the fairways will be important but also how many greens you hit when not on the fairway is very important as well. This stat combines the two and I think it will make a good indicator of how well a golfer might do here.
The greens are small. They will be missed. Getting GIRs might even be tougher this week with the new grass on the greens. How a golfer gets up and down from these misses will play a big part in determining success. In the last 11 years 28/38 golfers that finished Top 3 or better have been inside the Top 65 in this stat for that respective year.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
There are 11 par 4s on this course which is more than usual. In the last 11 years 27/38 golfers that finished Top 3 or better have been inside the Top 55 in this stat for the specific year they finished Top 3.
Bogey Avoidance (BA):
The normal winning score at Harbour Town is around -10. This will not be a birdie fest. Avoiding big numbers will be key. 28/38 golfers that finished Top 3 or better the last 11 years were inside the Top 70 in this stat for that specific year.
Proximity from 150-175 (Prox150) and 175-200 (Prox175):
According to @fgmetrics on Twitter (you should give them a follow. Solid statistical info every week), 55% of all approach shots the last ten years have come from these two distances. Golfers who consistently hit it close from these distances will have a leg up on the field.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
Jason Day ($12,500):
With this field, Day’s price seems very low to me. He is the #1 golfer in the world and can win at any time, including this week. His stats are good and he has finished in the Top 10 here in past. I know some people might worry if he will take this tournament seriously because of the amount of golf he has played lately and the fact that he didn’t perform as well as he could have at The Masters last week but to me Day doesn’t seem like the kind of golfer who will take a week off during a weaker tournament. If he is playing, he is trying to win. That’s the vibe I get from him. He is also sponsored by RBC so more than likely he doesn’t want to let them down by not making the weekend. I think he will be very high owned because he is by far the best golfer in the field so if you want to fade him, I have no problem with that, either. (GPP only).
Paul Casey ($10,800):
Casey played well last week at the Masters with a 4th place finish and has three consecutive Top 10s on Tour. His stats for the course are good and he hasn’t finished outside of the Top 22 in three starts at Harbour Town. With how strong his game has been the last year, I think a win for Casey is inevitable this year and it could come at this event with a weaker field. (GPP and cash)
Brandt Snedeker ($10,600):
Snedeker has been having a solid 2016 missing only one cut in eight events with four Top 10s. He also hasn’t finished worse than 36th in any of his seven made cuts in 2016. His stats for the course are very good. He’s 52nd in SG:T2G, 27th in SG:P, 15th in Scr, 5th in P4, and 14th in BA. His driving stats leave a little room to be desired but since he will have less than a driver on a lot of holes this week, I can look past that. He won this event in 2011 and has not missed a cut here in his last 5 tries. (GPP and cash)
Matt Kuchar ($10,300):
Kuchar is very consistent, always makes the cut, and has more Top 25s than anyone else on Tour since 2015. He’s 47th in SG:T2G, 36th in SG:P, 46th in GD%, 42nd in DA, 63rd in BA, and 60th in Prox150. He hasn’t missed a cut here in his last ten tries, with FIVE Top 15 finishes and a victory here a couple of years ago. As of now he looks like he will be a staple in my cash lineup this week. (GPP and cash)
Brendan Grace ($9,000):
While most people will be loading up on Matthew Fitzpatrick (who I like as well) I’m going to be putting a lot of GPP shares on Grace this week. He’s ranked 13th in the OWGR, has a solid tee to green game, plays par 4s well, avoids bogeys, is great out of the sand, and is accurate from 175-200 yards. I think he will be low owned because of his missed cut last week but he did finish 7th last year at his only other appearance at Harbour Town. (GPP only)
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.