The Masters is over for another year and what an event it was with Tiger Woods recording a memorable 15th Major Championship victory.
His comeback from injury and the well-documented ‘personal problems’, has been nothing short of phenomenal and I am sure the Hollywood scriptwriters are already working on the blockbuster that will no doubt follow one day.
While the golfing world now can’t wait for next month’s USPGA Championship to see if Tiger can add to his Major tally, there is plenty of great action to come on the PGA Tour over the next few weeks – starting with this week’s RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head in South Carolina.
The host course, Harbour Town, a par 71 Pete Dye design measuring just on 7100 yards, is one of the most unique tests played on Tour all year.
What makes Harbour Town so different is the precision required of the tee. Length is not important, but positioning your tee ball is.
Finding fairways isn’t enough at Harbour Town. On most holes finding the correct portion of the fairway is key as otherwise you will be blocked out on your second shot by the trees, making it a struggle to find the smaller than average greens.
Following on from this scrambling is key this week as all players will miss their fair share of greens, meaning the ability to ‘get up and down’ is imperative.
This year’s event see’s a very strong field taking part and Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay are among those who were in the thick of things at Augusta who make the trip. In addition, several other big names including Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Bryson Dechambeau and Tommy Fleetwood will be on display.
Logically you would think this list of marquee names would be the place to look for the winner, history though actually tells us something different with only one player, Kuch, having won here in recent years after finishing top 25 the week before at the Masters. In fact, five of the past seven winners either missed the cut at Augusta or did not play there at all.
This is enough for me to swerve the big names who featured prominently last week and instead focus on players who were never seriously in the mix or didn’t appear at all. The first player who matches the criteria is former Harbour Town winner Jim Furyk at 30/1.
For the last couple of years Jim’s game has taken something of a back seat as he focused on his Ryder Cup captaincy duties. With this now firmly behind him, he has re-dedicated himself to his own game and the results have been mightily impressive.
He was ninth at the Honda Classic and second at the Pete Dye-designed TPC Sawgrass and that shows Jim means business again. This week represents a perfect opportunity for him add another victory to his CV. Paddy are paying to eight places each-way, so the 30/1 on offer looks a steal.
South African Grace has form figures of 11, 1 and 7 here in three visits, while Si Woo Kim, who has been in great form of late, had this title in his hands last year before missing a host of short putts down the stretch to open the door for Satoshi Kodaira.
To complete this weeks team, I shall venture further down the market and include a third former Hilton Head champion in the shape of Aaron Baddeley (95/1) and one time PGA Tour winner Ryan Armour at 150/1.
Badds claimed his maiden PGA Tour title here way back in 2006 and arrives here in great touch.
Significantly as well he appears to have rediscovered his short game magic and currently sits third for the season in scrambling, which is key this week.
Armour, meanwhile, is the typical sort of shorter-hitting plodder who performs well here and currently sitting third in Driving Accuracy and 18th in Scrambling, coupled with two recent top twelve finishes, he ticks an awful lot of boxes for me at an eye-catching 150/1.
To win: Jim Furyk 30/1.
Each-way chances: Si Woo Kim 35/1, Branden Grace 40/1, Aaron Baddeley 95/1, and Ryan Armour 150/1.
* All odds correct at time of posting.