2015 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town picks + predictions, plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #Dyeabolical

One may think that being slotted the week following the Masters is one of the toughest draws on the annual PGA Tour tournament calendar, but the RBC Heritage isn’t just any regular tournament.  In fact, in a few years ago Golf Digest did a poll among PGA Tour players and the host course Harbour Town ranked 2nd among player favorites on Tour, behind only- you guessed it- Augusta National.  Let me repeat that- Harbour Town ranked SECOND place!  Ahead of Bay Hill, Memorial, East Lake, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Riviera and so many other top notch spots the Tour visits each year.

Harbour Town is a prime example of why it doesn’t take a 7,500 yard monstrosity to host a competitive PGA Tour event.  One of the many things that makes Harbour Town great, is that at just a shade over 7,000 yards (after a few tees were stretched by architect Pete Dye in 2011), it demands that players work the ball both ways, hit it high and low, and literally use very club in their bags during the round.  Trees hang crowd the edges of fairways and greens and require players to strategically place tee shots to specific quadrants of the fairway in order to have proper angles into the green.  A tee shot on the wrong side of the fairway could mean being fully blocked out by overhanging trees, leading to punch and run or other captivating creativity.  Placement off the tee is paramount this week, not just the bomb and bash mentality that we see at all too many Tour events these days.

Harbour Town’s sharp doglegs and dime-sized greens require extreme precision, as a player could literally hit anything from a driver all the way down to a 6-iron off the tee on some holes (seriously, guys will hit 6-irons off some par 4 tees this week).  This is how you get creative and crafty precision-happy past champions like Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and others.  It’s the definition of a course that requires actual strategy, not just brawn.

All of my picks made the cut last week at the Masters; however, no question about it, it was a disappointing week overall as none of them contended.  I was particularly surprised the most by Lockzilla Jason Day, as after his opening round 67 he sputtered big time en route to a t-28th finish.  Time to find some new momentum this week.

Now, let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Day t-28th, Walker t-38th)

Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson
– Probably not the best reputation to have when the first thing I’d say about you is to never pick you in fields deep with talent- sorry Webb!  But, it’s true.  Sans his U.S. Open win, Webb notoriously plays well in “smaller field” tourneys and struggles in deeper fields.  Lucky for us, the RBC is a smaller field relatively speaking and boom, I love me some Webb this week.  He’s made his past 7 of 8 cuts on Tour and finished t-28th at the Masters last week, which will only keep more under the radar.  In his last appearance here he lost in a playoff in 2013, so there’s some added motivation to get it done this week.

Brandt Snedeker
Brandt Snedeker
– Sneds disappointingly missed the cut last week at the Masters by one stroke, which was a surprise given his good form headed into Augusta, as he finished t-13th at Bay Hill in his previous start, as well as 4 other top 25s on the season including his victory at Pebble.  He’s a past champion here (2011) as well, which will give him some positive vibes to get things back on track following last week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Westwood t-46th)

Brendon de Jonge
Brendon de Jonge
– The burly Zimbabwean was a perfect 5/5 in cuts made at Harbour Town until a MC last year, with a career best t-9th in ’13.  Throw out his MC at the Valero Texas Open where he was a victim of the wrong side of the draw like so many others, and his last four other events on Tour have gone t-25th at the Honda Classic, t-10th at Puerto Rico, t-33rd at the Valspar and t-5th at the Shell Houston Open.  Not too shabby.  I’ve been saying it for years, it’s only a matter of time before this birdie-making machine breaks through and wins on Tour, this very well could be the week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Stenson t-19th)

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth
–  A performance for the ages by young Spieth at the Masters to be sure, but now it’s time for exhaustion/letdown city to set in.  It’s impressive that he’s even planning to tee it up this week, kudos to him for honoring his commitment to a tourney that gave him a sponsors exemption before he first had full status on Tour, but with the media whirlwind that he’s going through early this week, there’s just simply no way he has any gas left in the tank at this point.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Palmer t-33rd)

Kevin Streelman
Kevin Streelman
– One of the best stories from last week’s Masters was Kevin Streelman’s triumph in the Par 3 contest.  Not just the fact that he won, but that he asked 13-year-old Ethan Couch, who has a brain tumor to caddie for him.  Low and behold, karma paid off and Streelman won the par 3 contest, then put together 4 solid rounds in the actual tourney to finish t-12th, good enough to earn him an invite back next season.  Good things come in bunches, and I believe that Streelman’s momentum carriers into this week at Harbour Town, where he has made the weekend in 4 consecutive appearnces, including a t-3rd in ’13 and a t-17th in ’12.  Kevin Streelman is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

Speak Your Mind

*