This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.206M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
2017 champion: Wesley Bryan
Harbour Town has been entrenched almost exclusively in the post-Masters slot on the PGA Tour calendar for almost four decades, so tournament organizers are used to the drama of Sunday at Augusta spilling over into their week. Last year, it was the feel-good playoff win by Sergio Garcia that continued to be the talk of the golf world. Patrick Reed's win on Sunday hasn't resonated quite as much, so Hilton Head now gets our attention. This isn't exactly a top-tier event, but lots of touring pros love, love, love to come back year after year after year. At under 7,100 yards, Harbour Town hearkens a largely bygone era when golfers were tacticians more than bombers. Matt Kuchar is back for the 12th straight year and says the narrow, tree-lined fairways and dog legs "make it exciting to try to truly play chess around this golf course." Kuchar got his checkmate when he won the tournament in 2014.
As is usually the case, the RBC Heritage gets a decent field that goes 132 deep, with 10 of the top 30 in the OWGR, plus a bunch of internationals who played the Masters hanging around another week before heading home. In all, 32 golfers have made the short trek over from Augusta, including Dustin Johnson. It makes for a nice story to hear that the top-ranked golfer in the world is playing in his home state for the first time since 2009...until you also hear that RBC is now one of his sponsors. DJ has played the tourney twice, trunk-slamming both times. Also on hand are Marc Leishman Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner and defending champion Wesley Bryan. The international contingent includes Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher, Dylan Frittelli and Satoshi Kodaira. The Harbour Town winner usually has been a Masters participant. Only seven times since 1983 has the winner not played Augusta the week before, but get this – five of them camee in the past 12 years. More on that in the Tier 1 value picks below.
Some years, Harbour Town ranks in the top 10 on the difficulty meter. Last season, it was in the middle of the pack, the 29th-hardest course out of 50. That could have been because there was little wind last year. Or maybe because it was the first tournament since Hurricane Matthew roared through, felling thousands of trees on the island. The year before, there was a significant course renovation. We're still getting our bearings on all the changes. Three years ago, Jim Furyk won at 18-under, then Branden Grace won at eight-under-par, and last year, Bryan was planted firmly in between at 13-under. One thing that hasn't changed through it all is the tiny greens, averaging less than 4,000 square feet. That makes getting on the green in regulation a challenge. This is traditionally the hardest GIR week of the season and therefore there is a premium on scrambling. More on that in the Champion's Profile below. The signature hole is the 18th, a 472-yarder with a small green. Last year, it played as the third-hardest hole on the track, with a combined 17 double bogeys or the even more dreaded "other." But at least golfers walked off amid the beautiful surroundings of the famed red-and-white-striped lighthouse and marina.
Weather-wise, the forecast called for rain early in the week but then mostly dry conditions till Sunday. Temperatures will be mostly in the 70s and the wind will strengthen throughout the tournament leading to a potentially wet and windy final round.
Key Stats to Winning at Harbour Town (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained approach
• Scrambling/Strokes gained around the green
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
2017 - Wesley Bryan
2016 - Branden Grace
2015 - Jim Furyk
2014 - Matt Kuchar
2013 - Graeme McDowell
2012 - Carl Pettersson
2011 - Brandt Snedeker
2010 - Jim Furyk
2009 - Brian Gay
2008 - Boo Weekley
It will be interesting see whether Dustin Johnson can end the decade-plus stretch of shorter hitters winning. Harbour Town pinches the fairways, which average only 22 yards at the 300-yard mark, the narrowest we've seen all season. The week generally results in the shortest average drives of any tournament and the worst greens-in-regulation numbers.
Firing at the tiny greens, even the most accurate of iron players will see their GIR numbers dip. Last year, Wesley Bryan ranked 66th in the field in greens in regulation, almost unheard of for a tournament champion. But he was first in scrambling and 11th in strokes gained: putting. Four of the top five finishers were top-7 in scrambling. The only one who wasn't, Ollie Schniederjans (T3), was second in GIR. Looking back at some other recent winners, Branden Grace was third in scrambling and Jim Furyk was first, as was Graeme McDowell. As we often say, smaller greens tend to neutralize the better putters. That doesn't necessarily mean that putting doesn't matter; it's just that poorer putters have a better chance of having a good putting week.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Matt Kuchar - $10,800 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 16-1)
While the Heritage winner often is someone who played the Masters the week before, that trend is diminishing and those who did win it were mostly guys not close to contention at Augusta. That's why we're skipping almost all the top guys. We're especially not sold on Dustin Johnson coming here in the right frame of mind. So we'll start with Kuchar. Earlier, we mentioned Kuchar's love of playing Harbour Town. That counts for a lot. And his passion shows in his results, with a win four years ago followed by a T5, T9 and T11. Oftentimes, those are the best stats to consider.
Brian Harman - $9,800 (30-1)
Harman was in the Masters, but he was pretty much out of if after a 73-74 start, so we're guessing his stress level was not too high on the weekend. Harman leads the Tour with seven top-10s. He's got a couple here, as well, with a T9 last year and a T7 three years before that. Harman is ranked fifth on Tour in greens in regulation, seventh in SG putting and 12th in SG: total.
Tier 2 Values
Patrick Cantlay - $9,100 (30-1)
Cantlay's first missed cut of the season came last week at the Masters. He had been 8-for-8 with two top-10s and five top-25s. Cantlay's debut last year at Harbour Town was a brilliant tie for third. He is ranked 16th on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee and 32nd in greens in regulation.
Luke List - $8,900 (30-1)
List may be the best current golfer who didn't get into the Masters. He has finished in the top-26 in his past seven stroke-play events, including T16 at Copperhead, another tight track. We're going to dismiss his T39 and missed cut the past two years at Hilton Head, because List is a far better golfer now. He's 19th in strokes gained: around the green and just inside the top-50 in greens in regulation.
Emiliano Grillo - $8,600 (40-1)
We envision Grillo as a very popular pick this week. He's fairly priced and coming off a T3 two weeks ago at Houston. This will be his Harbour Town debut, but he should find a comfort level right away. Grillo is ranked 18th on Tour in driving accuracy, 19th in GIR and 20th in strokes gained: putting. He's also a not-too-shabby 53rd in scrambling.
Tier 3 Values
Kevin Chappell - $7,900 (40-1)
We don't understand why the 40th-ranked golfer in the world and a top-flight ball striker would get a sub-$8,000 price in a middle-of-the-road field. But we'll gladly take advantage of it. Chappell missed only his second cut all season last week at the Masters. He is ranked third on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee, 21st in scrambling and 26th in strokes gained: approach.
Russell Knox - $7,800 (50-1)
The Scot doesn't love Harbour Town quite as much as Luke Donald (see below), but year after year he delivers. Knox has finished top-20 each of the past four years, and it's easy to see why. He is ranked 18th on Tour in greens in regulation and 27th in strokes gained: around the green. Knox tied for 15th at Pebble Beach, another course well-suited to the shorter hitter.
Luke Donald - $7,700 (50-1)
Donald always finds out the week after Augusta whether he will qualify for next year's Masters. We're kidding, slightly. The Heritage annually is Donald's best chance for a victory, and some would say his only chance. The former world No. 1 has a sterling track record here, finishing runner-up three of the past four years and five times altogether. It's almost cruel he's come so close so often without winning.
William McGirt - $7,600 (60-1)
Like Knox and Donald, McGirt delivers year after year at Hilton Head, with top-10s three of the past four tournaments. He missed the cut last time out in Houston, but before he strung together three good weeks during the Florida Swing. McGirt is ranked 26th on Tour in scrambling and 49th in strokes gained: approach.
Jason Kokrak - $7,400 (60-1)
Kokrak has made six trips to Harbour Town and has confounded gamers with his three top-20s and three trunk slams. Overall, he's made 11-of-13 cuts this season, with more than half of his cashes being top-25s. He is ranked 31st in greens in regulation.
Brandt Snedeker - $7,400 (50-1)
Snedeker won the tournament back in 2011 and tied for 11th last year. He surely has not been on top of his game after his 2017 ended prematurely because of injury, but he did have a couple of top-25s in February. Snedeker ranks 14th on Tour in scrambling, 42nd in strokes gained: putting and 54th in driving accuracy.
Ollie Schniederjans - $7,400 (40-1)
Schniederjans' Harbour Town debut last year resulted in a tie for third. He hasn't done much recently, but he enters ranked 21st in strokes gained: around the green, 34th in SG approach and 40th in SG total.
Chris Kirk - $7,100 (80-1)
Kirk is always a tough guy to figure out. He has a lot of weeks where he's horrible, but he has just enough strong weeks to keep you interested. He has three top-15s in 2018, including a recent one in the stacked Arnold Palmer Invitational. At the Heritage, Kirk has registered three top-30s in the past five years. Based on his numbers, he's capable of so much more. Kirk is ranked 22nd on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 37th in scrambling. And he's 33rd in strokes gained: tee to green. Even his putting isn't that, with a ranking of 124th. Tough to figure him out indeed.
Rory Sabbatini - $7,000 (80-1)
Sabbatini has missed his last two cuts at Harbour Town. But he strung together five top-25s before that, including three top-10s. We think Sabbatini is playing more like that golfer this season. He's made all nine cuts since the calendar flipped to 2018. And he's ranked 10th on Tour in strokes gained: around the green.
Lucas Glover - $6,800 (100-1)
Glover has made 11-of-12 cuts this season, so he's a good bet to reach the weekend. He's also made the cut the past three years at Hilton Head, one of them a top-20. Glover is a great ball striker and an accurate iron player – he's 23rd in strokes gained: off the tee and 42nd in GIR, plus top-50 in scrambling – so there's no reason he can't have a top-25 week.
Tom Hoge - $6,500 (Field, 12-1)
Rarely do we dip down to the very bottom in the mid-$6,000s – those guys are there for a reason – but we'll take our chances on Hoge. He had a great January, then went ice cold, then showed some signs of a reversal with cashes in his past two starts, including a T26 at Bay Hill. Hoge is ranked 28th on Tour in scrambling and 30th in strokes gained: approach. And he's also eighth in proximity to the hole.