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2023 RBC Heritage Odds & Picks: Bet Justin Thomas, Tom Kim and Mackenzie Hughes at Harbour Town

2023 RBC Heritage Odds & Picks: Bet Justin Thomas, Tom Kim and Mackenzie Hughes at Harbour Town article feature image

Pictured: Justin Thomas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The first major is in the books and Jon Rahm left no doubt about where he resides among the current crop of stars.

Unfortunately for me, when a guy that good wins, I do not.

So now the focus shifts to Harbour Town and another elevated event.

This has always been a great course for betting. Shorter hitters are in play and most of the stars typically didn’t show up because they just finished the Masters.

But with the new status and larger prize purse, most of the big names are quickly back in action.

This could be really good for our purposes. We may get a letdown from some of the top players, while the driver is basically negated for some of the bombers. Overall, there are a few angles that have come into play over the years here.

The Course

The Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town is a par-71 that checks in at around 7,100 yards. It has the smallest greens on TOUR, so iron play will be even more important than usual. But even the best iron players will struggle at times, so scrambling also plays a bigger role than the standard TOUR stop.

Wind is one of the primary defenses at this seaside South Carolina course, so you can expect some pretty difficult scoring conditions if things get blustery.

Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley have won here multiple times, while players like Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker have also notched a victory. None are really known for distance, but all have been elite iron players or scramblers.

The Favorites

Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler open as the favorites after Rory McIlroy pulled out. Apparently having the weekend off at Augusta wasn’t enough time for him to get ready for this one. Of those two, it’s hard to back Rahm off that win. I have to figure there will be some sort of letdown after a grueling four days. I could see betting Scheffler against him head-to-head. Scheffler’s ball striking was elite, but he just had an abysmal putting week, which can happen to anyone at the Masters. The distance will be negated for both, but Scheffler has the better irons on a course where approach is king.

Patrick Cantlay is next in line and he loves this place. He’s got three top-3 finishes in five starts here and has been one of the steadiest guys on TOUR this year. His well-round skillset really gives him an edge over some stars who are more reliant on distance.

We’ve got a pretty large group in that +2000s range with Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Max Homa and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The key to this week is figuring out who among that group is going to be subject to that Masters hangover, and who is ready to go. I played Thomas when he opened at +3300 and would still think about it at +2800. Thomas missed the cut last week, but Spieth had no problem winning here last year after a poor week at Augusta. We’ve seen multiple MCs at Augusta rebound here in recent years. Thomas had a fairly solid first round, but just fell apart in the worst weather conditions. I will usually throw out rounds in those type of conditions when I see them drag down a player’s odds if the forecast looks decent.

The Midtier

This is usually a good range and guys I like in that +3300-5000 range include Sungjae Im, Shane Lowry and Tom Kim.

For Im, the course should fit better than we’ve seen before. He’s gotten better here in his past couple starts with a 13th and 21st after a pair of missed cuts. Overall, he’s solid off the tee and keeps it in play. He’s got good irons and the putter can get rolling.

Lowry just seems to fit here. We’ve got three top 10s from him in four appearances. Lowry had a rough stretch early in the year, but has been rounding back into form lately.

Tom Kim continues to be a guy I back on Webb Simpson courses. Simpson won here in 2020 with the same style Kim executes now. He’s accurate off the tee, great with the irons and capable of getting hot on the greens. This has always been more of a course fit place rather than a course history, meaning a player doesn’t need a string of good results here to contend, as long as the skillset fits. Satoshi Kodaira and Wes Bryan both won here in their first appearance in recent years. It’s not a place that requires years to figure out.

The Longshots

Down here, I’ll go with Mackenzie Hughes at 200/1 on BetRivers. Hughes had a great week with the irons at Augusta and put together a good run against the elites in match play. This course compares favorably with Sea Island, where Hughes notched his first win. At a big number, and with his current form, I think it’s worth a look.

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