Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
Greenery: Over-seeded Poa
Past Winners: Simpson (2020), Pan (2019), Kodaira (2018), Bryan (2017), Grace (2016)
Key Notes: Forced Layups, 2nd smallest greens on Tour
Course Comparables: Sedgefield CC (Wyndham Championship), Silverado Resort and Spa (Safeway Open)
Welcome back gang to another fun and stressful week of the PGA season. This week we cross the GA/SC border and head to Hilton Head Island where the RBC Heritage takes place. Harbour Town Golf Links is a course where any type of golfer can win. You don’t need to be a bomber to have success here unlike plenty of other venues that require such distance. There are tons of forced layups with an average driving distance of under 270 yards (tour average being around 290). Harbour Town also features the second smallest greens on Tour, meaning that Around-the-Green is actually a bit more vital this week than Off-the-Tee along with your Approach game dialed in. Webb Simpson set the course record last time through as this course generally doesn’t play as easy as Webb made it look. There are various conditions that make it more difficult that just didn’t come into play in 2020.
We have quite a loaded field for the first week after the Masters. The 10k range has plenty to offer with Dustin Johnson leading the field. He’s one of the lower owned plays this week as it seems like a miss at the Masters has DFS players not wanting to pay up for him. If we are getting DJ at an ownership discount, we have to consider the pivot here. The only player I think you should have unfaltering interest in is Collin Morikawa. He’s the elite iron player of the group and is one of two players to be top five in the field in approaches between 150 and 175 yards along with 175 and 200 yards. Harbour Town is going to have a strong majority of shots come in that range, more so than usual. I think you should also have interest in Webb Simpson as well. This is a Webb-specialty course and should have a high floor. I think a Morikawa/Webb build will be reasonably popular this week so make sure you get different down low if you end up going that route.
The 9k range is tantalizing and a great place to start your lineups. Will Zalatoris and Tyrrell Hatton are amazing ballstrikers with winning upside. This is chalk you will want to devour. The model loves Corey Conners and Paul Casey albeit I don’t trust them at this price and ownership with their lacking short games. Their approach games and recent forms still make them quality plays if you want to go there. When we have a short course where Webb Simpson has had a ton of success, we can blindly back Sungjae Im. Although his form is a bit wonky, he’s priced pretty cheaply for the field and the Webb/Sungjae correlation is quite strong. The last 9k play is Matt Fitzpatrick and is in great form. Prior to the Masters, he had four consecutive 11th place finishes or better, gaining over seventeen strokes tee-to-green within that span.
The 8k range is a lot less pleasing and not too different compared to the upper 7s. Abe Ancer and Brian Harman appear to be massive chalk and I think you can play one and fade the other. Ancer has gained on approach in all eight events he’s played in through 2021. Weirdly enough, his putter has been his shortcoming this year although he regained it through the Masters and Valero. Harman has been the opposite. The ballstriking has been inconsistent while his putter has carried him for his recent success. It’s definitely risky to go here and with his raised price, I’d recommend avoiding him this week. The model is telling me just to fade this range altogether but we have some interesting ownership pivots here if you need some low owned guys for deep GPPs. My favorite, and the model’s favorite, in this range is Shane Lowry. His elite touch around the greens can keep him in the hunt and he’s had massive swings putting over the past couple of months. He ranks within the top thirty of Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Around the Green and I like Sugar Shane a lot more at coastal venues.
The upper 7k range is magnetizing towards two players. Siwoo Kim and Russell Henley are the quinella of my model and I’m going to hammer them. Kim has regained his early career form, ranking 1st in Par 4s 450-500 Yards, 3rd in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, and ranks within the top twenty five of both Strokes Gained: Approach and Off-the-Tee. Henley ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach and ranks within the top ten of both Par 4 ranges. I recommend playing at least one of these two in any lineup you make. If you’re looking for a pivot here, Christiaan Bezuidenhout ranks out strongly in the model. He also ranks within the top ten of both Par 4 ranges and is within the top fifteen of Strokes Gained: Around the Green. While he doesn’t rank out great on the model, Branden Grace is returning to form and a coastal course that can play difficult is a boon for his game. These two should have single digit ownership and will let you get different to eat some chalk. I have to recommend Charley Hoffman as well due to his recent form, but I prefer Kim and Henley to him.
The lower 7k range is mostly a dead zone for me. Even though his recent form has been inconsistent at best, Harry Varner III still pops up in the model. He has a strong game around the greens and can pile up birdies if he can get some irons going. I generally don’t put my name on short gamers but Denny McCarthy and Adam Hadwin are in good enough form to consider and will give you some leverage in deep GPPs.
The upper 6k range has a few interesting names. The first one is a vastly underpriced Doug Ghim. He ranks thirteenth in the model and will certainly pop if we get some putting this week. At this price, we really only need him to make the cut. Same goes for Russell Knox. If we’re using the Safeway Open as a bit of a course comparable here, we should probably use, or at least consider, the most recent winner there. Stewart Cink is in great recent form with a 12th at the Masters and a 19th at the Honda, getting it done with mostly ballstriking. Kyle Stanley and Chez Reavie are both viable at a less-than-driver course, but buyer beware. Both of these guys can finish dead last due to their inability to putt.
The lower 6k range has some viable punts to consider. Tom Hoge and Peter Malnati both rank within the top forty of the model. Both are quality approach players with the ability to get the scoring going if it plays a bit easier like last year. My favorite play down here, relatively speaking, is dollar store Webb Simpson aka Tyler Duncan. He ranks fifteenth in both Strokes Gained: Approach and Approaches 175-200 Yards and we’ve seen him pop at these shorter courses that require strong iron play. These few guys have the highest ceilings in this range but also have zero floor.