RBC Heritage Betting Preview: Which Golfers Have the Best Course History at Harbour Town?
Photo credit: Hector Vivas/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Kuchar
On Tuesday, I wrote about which golf metrics have best predicted success at Harbour Town Golf Links, the site of this week’s tournament, the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
See that piece for the nitty-gritty details, but essentially it’s a pretty similar course to the one we saw last week in Colonial. It’s very short at around 7,100 yards, which means ball-striking will be at a premium. Consistent golfers who avoid bogey golf and have good short games will hang around the lead.
We now have a week’s worth of golf under our belt following the COVID-19 induced layoff, but it’s still a weird time in the handicapping world. Recent play is based just off a couple rounds, and who knows how predictive that is (I’d guess it will be for some players, but not broadly).
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The data we can be confident in is the same as last week: Long-term play plus course history and fit. Harbour Town has hosted this tournament since 1969, so we have a wealth of data to know how it plays and which golfers fit.
At the bottom of this post, I’ll insert a table with “Course History Ratings,” which basically highlights how well golfers have done here over the past six years.
It incorporates Adjusted Round Score, our proprietary metric at FantasyLabs, and I also account for how many times a golfer has played here in that time frame. In other words: A golfer playing well once is nice; doing it consistently over the years is more impressive. Likewise, a golfer who consistently underperforms will be penalized more than one who had a bad random year.
Top Golfers in Harbour Town Course History Rating
Matt Kuchar, one of the world’s premier ball-strikers, is essentially in a tier of his own this week in terms of course history. The dude has played each of the past six years, with these stupid-good finishes:
- 2019: 2nd
- 2018: 23rd
- 2017: 11th
- 2016: 9th
- 2015: 5th
- 2014: 1st
If there weren’t other factors like the layoff this week, he’d be one of the easiest DFS plays — the set-it-and-forget-it type. He still might be.
One interesting factor this week is that the field is way more loaded than usual this year as golfers get back in the swing of things. Among the players who haven’t played this course or haven’t visited in the last six years include Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson.
It’s an important point: If you looked just at previous leaderboards you’d find names like CT Pan, Satoshi Kodaira, Wesley Bryan, Branden Grace, Carl Pettersson and more. In fact, the last four winners at this track have all been first-timers. That will be more difficult with the much stronger field.
Other golfers this week with great history at Harbour Town include Luke Donald, Kevin Kisner, Russell Knox, Branden Grace, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson and Jason Kokrak. Ball-strikers galore!
Webb is one of the more interesting names in the field: He was very popular in the betting and DFS markets last week but really disappointed. He’s one of the world’s best ball-strikers when on, so we’ll see if he’s able to get it going in Week 2 of this season resume.
Worst Golfers in Harbour Town Course History Rating
Some of the worst golfers in my rating include some of the worst golfers in the field. That’s boring; no one is going to use them in DFS or betting anyway.
Let’s instead highlight some of the golfers at the top of the board who have historically struggled here.
Interestingly enough, the big-name golfers who have played here before have struggled compared to their usual expectations: Justin Thomas, Sung-jae Im and Hediki Matsuyama have been especially poor, although JT has played only twice and the others just once.
Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are golfers at the top who possess solid but not spectacular history; I wouldn’t necessarily upgrade or downgrade them based on past performance.
A few interesting names after last week’s play are Harold Varner III, Corey Conners and Harris English. The latter was a popular value play and really disappointed; the others weren’t popular but surprised with incredible play especially prior to Sunday. They all have miserable history at Harbour Town; if you take the history angle, they’re ones to avoid.
Enough analysis: See full course history ratings below.
Harbour Town Course History Ratings
|Name||To-Win Odds||Course History Rating (1-10)|
|Si Woo Kim||+30000||5.01|
|Bo Van Pelt||+250000||4.51|
|Ted Potter Jr.||+75000||4.51|
|Rafa Cabrera Bello||+10000||4.01|
|Byeong Hun An||+10000||3.43|
|Harold Varner III||+12500||2.59|
|Charles Howell III||+15000||2.50|
|Davis Love III||+150000||1.59|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+30000||N/A|