5 Players to Watch at The RBC Heritage
The first major championship of the season may have concluded, but Hilton Head Island will play host to the next PGA Tour event: The RBC Heritage.
The course at Harbour Town Links encourages creativity and commitment, as opposed to deploying brute power throughout.
Considering its length of 7,099 yards - which is more than 400 yards shorter than Augusta - those who lack the strength of the powerhouses should be in contention.
Previous winners of this event include Stewart Cink (3), Jim Furyk (2), Graeme McDowell, Davis Love III (5), Payne Stewart (2), and Nick Faldo, while Arnold Palmer was victorious in the very first edition.
The Previous Edition
In previous years the field typically involved a weaker representation, but more players are opting to experience the fun layout of Harbour Town in contemporary times.
During last year’s tournament, Shane Lowry, Corey Conners, Matt Fitzpatrick, Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel all featured at the Heritage.
The interesting fact about Harbour Town is that it has history of producing winners who are victorious on multiple occasions.
Stewart Cink secured his third victory of the Heritage last year, after two fantastic opening rounds of 63.
Cameron Smith shot 62 on the opening day, to open up a narrow one-shot lead, before the Australian faltered with a subsequent 71.
Cink matched 63 for his second round to be the lowest scorer of the day and, despite two following rounds of 69 and 70, won comfortably by four strokes.
Harold Varner III and Emiliano Grillo finished T2 after four rounds in the sixties, but Varner’s bid for PGA Tour glory continued - and still does today.
Five to Shine
The golf course to succeed Augusta National could not be any different, with scoring opportunities frequent throughout.
The closing holes at Harbour Town hold the potential of wrecking cards, which should provide intense entertainment as the players come down the stretch come Sunday afternoon.
We are going to look at five players who will be targeting victory in South Carolina as we enter the meat of the season.
As a three-time champion of this event, Stewart Cink must head into every Heritage with the utmost of confidence. Last year marked only his second win since the 2009 Open Championship and it proves that in the sport of golf, your next triumph can come at any given moment. This is also a huge reason as to why golf viewing is so essential; the best golfer is never assured of winning. Cink has enjoyed an excellent career that peaked with a major, and at the age of 48, he certainly isn’t guaranteed more victories.
Whilst he may have missed the cut at The Masters, he was chopped in style as he aced the par-3 16th, which sparked scenes of jubilation as his son was carrying his bag. Only one top 10 to his name this year and that was earned at the Valspar Championship that Sam Burns successfully defended. Generally, away from that T7 finish in Florida, this campaign has been largely disappointing, missing six cuts of a possible 11. No doubt Cink and his family enjoy this week and if he can mirror his form from last year, he’s certainly in with a chance of emulating Burns and producing the second successful defence of the season.
If we rewind just eight months ago, Patrick Cantlay must have felt like he was king of the world as he triumphed in the Tour Championship and walked away with a cool $15 million. Of course, golf isn’t about prize money and the legacy they leave will be determined on major championships, but it must be nice to earn $15 million through playing golf. That week in Atlanta was the final time he tasted victory but it certainly wasn’t through lack of trying.
Cantlay has only appeared in eight PGA Tour events so far this season and he has only missed the cut once, although arguably at the worst possible tournament - The Players Championship. Conditions were tough that week and if you were part of the wrong schedule like he was, the deviating wind proved too difficult around the Stadium Course. Four top 10s in just eight starts is fantastic however, and we often think if golfers aren’t winning then they are out of form - which Cantlay clearly isn’t. It’s a lot harder to win on tour now, but the Californian can do with one sooner rather than later.
There was a time where Rickie Fowler and The Masters were synonymous with one another. The American has always been an interactive person and thoroughly enjoyed the par-3 contest, so it was disappointing to not see him feature at the first major of the year. He would have been hurting from that and will undoubtedly have his mind set on a return to Augusta for next season. This would be an ideal opportunity to build on that vision; he hasn’t won a tournament since the 2019 Phoenix Open.
Whilst Fowler has been on the scene for quite some time, no-one could have envisioned his drastic tumble down the world rankings. Nobody would have predicted his absence from The Masters but above all, it seemed unfathomable that this humungous character would be ranked 134th in the world at the age of 33. He may not have won a major to date, but he has finished at least T3 in every single one, with a best result of runner-up at the 2018 Masters. There’s time for Fowler to turn this around, but you feel this needs to be an excellent campaign if he’s to surge back to where he belongs.
There’s so much to like about Beau Hossler, who came painfully close to securing his maiden PGA Tour title during the Texas Open only a few weeks ago. A double-bogey on the par-5 14th effectively finished his chances of an inaugural victory, but he did demonstrate that he belongs on the tour - which will do wonders for his confidence. Remarkably, Hossler has been around longer than you think, having turned professional in 2016 and even featuring at the 2012 U.S. Open as an amateur. Coming third at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is more proof of his talent, which he has in abundance.
Many of you may not know much about Hossler, so let’s look at his statistics this season for you to paint a more coherent picture of his style. The American is long off the tee (307 yards, 30th) but, as we see with a lot of younger players, his power has compromised his accuracy (48.21%, 205th) so he’s certainly not flawless off the tee. His iron play would be below average (GiR 65.59%, 141st) but he does hold a decent scoring average with 70.760, ranking 56th on tour. His true strength is with the flat stick, where he’s 4th for SG: Putting this year, a remarkable feat that not everyone can emulate. Whilst he might not have the overall package yet, it’s important you don’t sleep on Hossler - who is due a win after two close calls.
Alex Noren is now 38 and still seeking his first major championship. Missing The Masters for the second consecutive year is not the best approach for attaining your first, but we’ve seen many golfers enjoy the finest spells of their careers during their 40s - so all hope is not lost yet. In all honesty, he’s had a pretty decent season, only missing the cut twice in 12 starts. His best finish of the year took place at The Honda Classic (T5), although he did record a previous top 10 at the Phoenix Open (T6).
The Swede’s last victory was his capture of the HNA Open de France title on the DP World Tour back in 2018, and he is yet to win in America. From a European perspective, he is a fantastic golfer who will certainly be remembered. The problem is, golfers who are often thought of highly have triumphed in America - and on multiple occasions too. Considering there can only be one winner at each event, golf sometimes requires patience. Noren has endured a decent season so far, and with plenty more golf to be played, this can still be a season he’ll remember fondly.
There’s five golfers who you should keep an eye on across the RBC Heritage, as each will be targeting a return to form.
The Heritage is usually a fun event and the quirkiness of Harbour Town Links means a triple-bogey can be just around the corner - which should result in pulsating viewing.
Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)