Sobel’s 2019 RBC Heritage Preview: Come for the Vibe, Pick the Ball-Strikers

Apr 18, 2019 11:20 PM EDT
Credit:

Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports.

  • Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite for the 2019 RBC Heritage this weekend.
  • Usually the tournament features a weaker field since it takes place right after the Masters, but this year the field is stronger than normal.
  • Jason Sobel analyzes the field and explains his betting strategy for Harbour Links.

No tournament on the PGA Tour has a better vibe than this week’s RBC Heritage.

It offers the perfect antithesis to last week’s pressure-cooker in Augusta. It’s relaxing, stress-free and low-key. This is where Waste Management Phoenix Open fans (should) go when they’re all growed up.

Don’t believe it? There’s a reason why, after his Masters victory four years ago, Jordan Spieth did the talk-show circuit, then basically took a vacation — while playing in this event.

By and large, though, guys who have just won the green jacket don’t follow it by going after a tartan one. Tiger Woods is no exception. While it would be fun to watch him carve irons all around Harbour Town, the man was admittedly gassed after that performance. (Oh, and he never plays here anyway.)

What we do have this week are a group of players who contended this past weekend.

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele, two of the three runners-up, are competing; so are Webb Simpson and Francesco Molinari, who each finished one stroke further back; plus, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter, each of whom closed inside the top-12.

The immediate instinct, I believe, is for most bettors to chase those close calls this week — the logic being that if they can contend at the Masters, then they should similarly contend at the more laid-back following event, too.

As Josh Perry astutely pointed out in his preview, though, Matt Kuchar (in 2014) is the only player to follow a Masters top-10 with a win here directly afterward.

Accordingly, other than one of those names I mentioned above, I’ll be fading the Masters contenders.

That doesn’t mean I’m eliminating everyone who played last week, however. In fact, my list of names includes a handful of guys who went four rounds at Augusta, finding some semblance of form before taking the drive to Hilton Head Island.

One other important note: Harbour Town isn’t just cool for the vibe.

This track is a ball-striker’s paradise, the proverbial type of place where “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.” Unlike so many PGA Tour venues, long driving is neutralized here, while there’s a premium on accuracy.

Give me all of the gritty iron players this week, especially those who love Bermuda.

There’s a specific formula that works this week. Let’s just plug the right players into it.

Favorites

Bryson DeChambeau (+1800)

I’ve always felt a special kinship with Bryson. I mean, we’re both science nerds; he speaks fluently about things like air density and I passed 10th grade chem lab (eventually).

And now this: He made his first-ever hole-in-one at Augusta National on Sunday and I made mine just a few minutes down the road on Monday.

It would only be fitting this week if he wins and I win while betting on him, then we take a buddies trip to the coolest science museum in the world. (No, but seriously, his game is coming around and I really like him at a place where he was T-3 last year.)

Jordan Spieth (+2200)

It was right about the time Spieth was making the turn on Thursday in 40 strokes that a colleague and I had a conversation about what it would mean if he didn’t turn things around soon.

He’s in jeopardy of not making the FedEx Cup playoffs and falling outside the top-50 for WGC qualifications. Not to mention, his confidence seemed like it was at an all-time low. Then he proceeded to play the next 63 holes in 9-under and finish T-21 for the week, his best result in seven starts. Call me gullible, but I think that could be the impetus for a much-needed turnaround.

Kevin Kisner shot 3-under par and finished T-21 at the Masters. Credit: Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports.

Kevin Kisner (+2800)

Have I mentioned my hole-in-one? Oh, I have? Well, you probably want more details, right? It took place on the seventh hole at Palmetto, which happens to be Kisner’s home club.