This past week’s Masters has to go down as one of the greatest weeks of golf in the history of the sport as Tiger Woods not only completed one of the best personal comeback stories the sporting world has ever seen to capture his 15th major, he did so in compelling fashion by erasing a two stroke deficit on the back nine Sunday and prevailing over many of the game’s elite that were around the top of the leaderboard. We will all be fighting a Masters hangover this week but the PGA Tour has an event scheduled so after pausing for a moment to take it all we will take a look at this week’s RBC Heritage held a Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina, a venue that is often voted as one of the best on the schedule.
Harbor Town Golf Links: Par 71, 7,099 yards. Harbor Town is one of the more interesting layouts on the PGA Tour. The course is a classic Pete Dye design that features tight, treelined fairways, and abundant hazards. This is a target course with several doglegs that will require players to hit their spots off the tee in order to leave themselves with a good approach angle. Because hitting the right part of the fair is so critical, players will club down off the tee, this leads to a higher than average rate of fairways hit. The greens at Harbor Town are some of the smallest and most difficult to hit on tour with an average GIR percentage that is 15% lower than the average PGA Tour venue. However, scrambling is easier with an average up and down conversion rate of 61% vs. the 57% Tour average. The course has three par fives with the two on the front nine being the best opportunities for birdies or better. The signature hole is the long par four 18th where players will be hitting a mid to long iron into a green partially surrounded by marshlands in likely windy conditions that will test of the nerves of players near the cutline on Friday afternoon.
This is a second shot course so we will want to key in on strokes gained approach. The short layout will lead to approach shots clustering in the 125-175 yard range so we will want to key in on proximity from those distances. Bogey avoidance and scrambling will also play an increased role this week as small greens and fewer overall scoring opportunities will make it harder to get back dropped shots. Weather will also increase the importance of the scrambling stats as high winds are expected throughout the week.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Good Drives Gained
- Opportunities Gained
- Bogey Avoidance
- Scrambling Percentage
Usually we see a watered-down field the week after a major, but this year’s edition of the RBC Heritage has one of the strongest fields in recent memory as the course is a favorite among many players on the PGA Tour. Title sponsor RBC also has a strong lineup of staff players who are likely under an obligation to play this week. Some of the Team RBC members headlining the field this week include Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, and Graeme McDowell. We will also see quite a few of the big names who were in contention on Sunday at Augusta teeing it up again this week as Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, and Webb Simpson will all be in the field. Also, as the course has the tight off the tee and small green feel we see in many Euro Tour courses, it should not be a big surprise that quite a few Europeans will be in the field this week including bigger names like Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Rafa Cabrera Bello. With a stronger than average field this week we will have plenty of options to choose from so let’s get to the picks. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament (GPP) lineups on DraftKings:
Upper Mid-Range – Jim Furyk – $9,400
On a course with difficult to hit greens it is important to target players who have been sharp with their irons as well as showing the ability to be able to get up down and grind out pars. This has been the name of the game as of late for Furyk as over his last 24 rounds he comes in ranked 4th in the field in strokes gained approach and 2nd in bogey avoidance. It is also worth mentioning that his bogey avoidance stats do not take a hit in rounds played in extremely windy conditions. He also has the upside protentional we like to see at this price as he won this event just four years ago.
Mid-Range – Ian Poulter – $8,600
I do not target Poulter in cash games all that much but course fit, conditions, and recent form converge to make this a play worth considering. He looked very sharp last week at The Masters as we have continued to see improved ball striking to go along with his superb scrambling ability. His ability to grind out pars will also be useful in the expected windy conditions and he has recorded top 15 finishes at Harbour Town in each of his last two starts.
Lower Mid-Range – Ryan Moore – $8,100
Last time we saw Ryan Moore was two weeks ago at the Valero where he was throwing darts with his short irons coming down the stretch in a weekend charge that came up just short. You can tell he was confident in his wedge game as he chose to lay up on a couple of the short par fours most of the field was attacking with driver and made it pay off by knocking it to tap in range. He comes in to the week ranked 7th in the field over his last 12 rounds in strokes gained approach and ranks 1st in the field in long-term historical proximity from 125-150 yards. He only made his debut at Harbour Town in 2018 but apparently liked what he saw as he finished in 16th place and has decided to return in 2018..
How we did last week:
Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:
Tommy Fleetwood – T7
Hideki Matsuyama – T32
Matt Kuchar – T36
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Rickie Fowler – T9
Hideki Matsuyama – T32
Matt Kuchar – T36
Paul Casey – MC
Sergio Garcia – MC
Charles Howell III – T32
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Loss
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 15-8
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 40-18
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