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Last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, the PGA Tour’s first event back since it hit pause on its season in early-March, lived up to every expectation imaginable. This week’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head should be stellar as well with the top six golfers in the world set to tee it up this week.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy headlines the 155-player field alongside the likes of Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and last week’s winner Daniel Berger among others.
C.T. Pan won last year’s event by one shot over Matt Kuchar at 12-under.
Harbour Town Golf Links isn’t necessarily a ‘traditional’ layout like we saw last week at Colonial, but it does share some characteristics as it’s on the shorter side playing at 7,100 yards, possessed tree-lined fairways and is truly a ball-strikers course.
Having said that, we saw a number of players essentially play Colonial with a bomb and gauge gameplan last week and that sort of style won’t translate well at Harbour Town given the tree trouble and native/waste bunker areas.
After seeing bentgrass greens last week, players will have to adjust to bermudagrass in Hilton Head. The greens are on the smaller side as well, again putting an emphasis on approach and scrambling.
Pick To Win
Last year’s Rookie of the Year put together one of the sneakiest Top 10 finishes in quite some time last week as he still sits atop the FedEx Cup standings.
Im, who won the Honda Classic two weeks before the sports world hit pause, has a total of six Top 10 finishes in 15 events played this season and his game should translate very well here at a shorter, potentially windy track that promotes solid iron play.
The 22-year-old ranks 30th in strokes gained: approach, sits 17th on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and averages 4.40 birdies per round, the sixth-best average on Tour.
Pick To Contend (Top 5 Finish)
While he already has a PGA Tour win under his belt, the 23-year-old showed he’s a force to be reckoned with among the biggest names in the game before falling to Daniel Berger on the first playoff hole. He put on a ball-striking clinic and showed he’s no slouch with the flatstick either at Colonial, two things he’ll need to do again to compete at Harbour Town.
He was third in the field last week in strokes gained: approach and 17th in greens in regulation meaning that his irons should be en fuego coming into this week. While you may say the playoff loss may linger a bit and cause him to struggle this week, I think the loss did nothing but to re-confirm that he’s already one of the best players in the world.
Collin Morikawa’s avg. finish in his first 21 events as a pro: 23rd (1 win).
Tiger Woods’ avg. finish in his first 21 events as a pro: 14th (5 wins).
Rory McIlroy missed 8 of his first 21 cuts as a pro, all on Euro Tour. Avg. finish was 23rd in the events he did make the cut.
— Mark Harris (@itismarkharris) June 15, 2020
Player To Fade
While it’s not ever a great idea to fade the No. 1 player in the world, McIlroy gives us reasons to do so this week.
He began the final round of the Charles Schwab just three shots off the lead, but after shooting 6-over on the front nine his day was over in a hurry. He birdied two of his last three holes to shoot 4-over on Sunday.
On top of that, McIlroy hasn’t played in this event since 2009. This feels like a week where we see McIlroy make the cut, but not really contend. His scrambling at Colonial wasn’t great either, which could make things difficult this week.