RBC Heritage Betting, DFS Picks: Fade the Favorites at Harbour Town?
If you haven’t yet caught your breath after an epic Masters weekend with a glorious leaderboard, don’t worry. We got you. The PGA Tour rolls right along this week and will make a stop at one of the players’ favorite courses of the year: Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This is a links course through and through, so expect a much different feel than last week. On that note, let’s dive into this great tournament.
Looking back at the winners at Harbour Town, it’s pretty clear the type of player who has success on this track.
Jim Furyk and Boo Weekley have won twice, while Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Branden Grace, Wesley Bryan, Brandt Snedeker and Brian Gay have all taken down this tournament in the last decade. Also, Luke Donald may have the best history of anyone on this course, with seven top-three finishes despite not ever winning.
There’s not a bomber in the bunch, and for good reason. Harbour Town is a par-71 checking in at 7,100 yards, so it’s one of the shorter courses on tour. It’s also a difficult course to use driver and routinely ranks near the bottom in average driving distance. It also has the smallest greens on tour.
Basically, we’re looking for guys who can keep the ball in play off the tee and stick their irons. Because of the small greens, everyone is going to miss a few more iron shots than they’re used to, so I’m looking at scrambling and putting a little more than I would during the average week.
It’s also important not to overrate what we just saw at the Masters. Augusta and Harbour Town couldn’t be further apart on the spectrum, and only three of the past 13 winners at Harbour Town even played the weekend at Augusta. — Joshua Perry
Josh is exactly right, and I don’t have a lot more analysis to add. Instead, let me put some data behind everything. Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at Harbour Town. The baseline golfer last year produced a -0.94 DraftKings Plus/Minus. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data …
Recent Greens in Regulation (GIR) back-tested the strongest of all metrics, and Long-Term Driving Accuracy (DA) was certainly up there as well. Whereas players needed to take advantage of Augusta National’s par-5s last week, that’s definitely not the case here. Look for the best ball-strikers in the field and ones who hit it the straightest. Also, putting seems to be more important than usual here, possibly because everyone is able to put it close to the hole because of the short distances. — Bryan Mears
For more course and DFS analysis, listen to Bryan and the FantasyLabs PGA crew on this week’s Flex podcast.
I just talked up all the short hitters having success here, but the favorite coming into the week is Dustin Johnson at +800. I love that Johnson is here, because this is probably the worst course on tour for him, but his overall talent level is going to make him the favorite almost anywhere. The world No. 1 drives down the numbers for everyone else, which gives us some great values in the midrange.
The only other players lower than 20-1 this week are Paul Casey (12-1) and Matt Kuchar (16-1). — Joshua Perry
Betting angle: I won’t back any of the top three players and will start my card with Webb Simpson, who is available on Sportsbook at +3000. Simpson has been solid across the board of late, gaining strokes in all areas. But it’s been the putter that has really heated up recently: He’s up to 10th on tour in Strokes Gained: Putting. — Joshua Perry
DFS spin: Matt Kuchar ($10,800 on DraftKings) is an excellent fit for this course, as he’s hit 67% of GIR in his past four tournaments (67.2% LT GIR) and hits a tremendous amount of fairways with his 65% LT DA. Kuchar also has solid course history here with top-12 finishes in each of the past four years. Course history on Dye courses could be something to pay attention to given the blind approaches and visual tricks. Kuchar is currently projected for 13-16% ownership: He’s historically been highly owned in the past four tournaments at Harbour Town: — Justin Bailey
Check out Justin’s full DFS breakdown here.
Betting angle: Outside of Simpson, there are plenty of guys I’ll be targeting to get a win in this range.
Tyrrell Hatton (33-1), Adam Hadwin (33-1), Patrick Cantlay (35-1) and Emiliano Grillo (40-1) are all players who don’t necessarily need the driver to be successful.
Of this group, I think Hatton is the most mispriced. He’s probably the third-best player in this field behind Johnson and Casey. Hatton has also done his damage recently when the driver was more out of play. He finished one shot out of the altitude-shortened WGC Mexico and advanced out of his match play bracket in Texas.
Two years ago, we saw Branden Grace enter this tournament as a top-four or top-five player in the field but was priced too low at 40-1. He ended up coming out with the win and providing some good value to bettors.
One last player in this range I like is Ryan Moore (55-1). Moore is another guy who is good with the irons and putts pretty well. I’m going to wait on the number because it’s the same on every site. He’s not really getting much buzz at the moment, so it’s possible his number gets worse a little later in the week. — Joshua Perry
DFS spin: This course seems to have been made for Francesco Molinari ($7,500 on DraftKings). Molinari can hit fairways, as evidenced by his 67.5% LT DA, and he strikes the ball well, hitting 68% of GIR over the past 75 weeks. Molinari’s LT Adj Rd Score of 68.9 is sixth-best in the field, but he’s the 26th-most expensive golfer. The main knock on Molinari lately has been his putting with 30.1 Recent Putts Per Round (PPR). — Justin Bailey
Betting angle: I’m betting too many players in that mid-tier range to really play many longshots, so I’ll be firing at a few top-10 and top-20 bets on guys further down the board. The first is Michael Thompson at +950 to finish in the top 20. He’s got a pair of top-25 finishes in his past two starts on tour. The stats won’t be pretty for him, but his recent results suggest that his game is coming around.
I also like Furyk and Donald to finish in the top 10 this week. Furyk comes in at +600 and Donald is +475. As mentioned above, both guys have a lot of good history at Harbour Town, and the course is a place that really suits both of their games. — Joshua Perry
DFS spin: If you’re in need of a low-owned option, Chesson Hadley is projected for just 2-4% ownership in DraftKings tournaments. Hadley has hit 69.9% of GIR in the past 75 weeks while hitting 61.7% of fairways. His -1.1 average adjusted strokes on par-4s and -0.1 on par-3s both rank within the top six of the field, and his LT Bogeys per tournament (7.5) is the ninth-best mark. However, he can be a volatile option, with a 28% missed cut rate over the past 75 weeks. — Justin Bailey
Pictured above: Luke Donald at Harbour Town Golf Links
Photo credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports