2017 RBC Heritage Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

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, Branden Grace and others.  It’s the definition of a course that requires actual strategy, not just brawn.

My picks last week at the Masters were just so-so, as Lockzilla Jason Day disappointingly finished t-22nd and my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week Jim Furyk bogeyed the 18th hole on Friday to miss the cut by a shot.  But, my Semi-Flier pick Brooks Koepka had a very solid weekend and finished t-11th and my Hosel-Rocket BUST of the week Dustin Johnson WD’d before the tourney even started due to an alleged fall.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Day t-22nd)

Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar
– A classic case where you don’t need to overthink things.  Mr Masters hole-in-one is as big of a no-brainer as they come this week.  And don’t bother even trying to fade him either just due to popularity, particularly at a venue where he’s gone win, 5th, t-9th the past 3 seasons.  Time to swallow that chalk this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Koepka t-11th)

Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner
– The Duf has been a top 25 machine so far this season on Tour, with five straight such finishes coming into last week’s Masters, where after a closing 76 he finished t-33rd.  He’s been striking it well all season and actually putting quite well too (currently 39th in Strokes Gained-Putting, which is mighty stellar for Duf!), so even though his best finish here is t-14th in 8 tries, I’m all over the Duf this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: DJ WD)

William McGirt
William McGirt
– A nice big, dirty Augusta hangover coming this week for the McGirtster.  He flashed early in the week, ultimately fading to a t-22nd finish.  He’ll be popular this week due to his pair of t-9s here in the past three years, but stay away and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Furyk MC)

Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk
– I had Jimbo in this exact same spot last week at the Masters and he fell flat, bogeying the 18th on Friday to miss the cut by a single stroke.  No question about it though, now is an even juicer time to pounce at a venue where he returns essentially for his title defense, after winning here in 2015 and not being able to play last year due to injury.  Not only did he win here two years ago, he also won here in 2010 and finished t-8th in 2012 and t-7th in 2014.  So yeah, he loves him some pea-shootin’ Hilton Head Island style.  Oh yeah, and his ownership should be lessened even more due to his missed cut last week.  All the better…

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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