What a Masters week we had, including a meltdown that nobody saw coming. Congrats to Danny Willett – who has been on our DFS radar all year – on his first major championship. Overall our picks were solid last week… we had Willett, Spieth, Day, Casey, and Oosthuizen all near the top in DK points. But our week was undone by Phil Mickelson’s MC and Smylie Kaufman’s (very predictable) final round 81. Tough conditions for him, and watching Spieth’s collapse probably didn’t help much.
But let’s turn the page, and move on to the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, a staple course on the PGA Tour. Harbour Town is a narrow, seaside course where accuracy is key and winds will wreak havoc on the players. These greens are tiny, the fairways are narrow, and trees in front of greens block approach shots that are not coming from the correct angle. It’s a typical strategist’s track, with recent winners including Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Carl Pettersson, Brandt Snedeker, Graeme McDowell, and Boo Weekley. No bombers in that group. One other note about the course is that the greens were recently re-sodded. Typically that means that they’ll be playing faster and firmer than usual, which creates a lot of missed greens and emphasizes scrambling ability. I’m also going to factor in course history a little more this week, because there are 5 players who have won this event multiple times. It’s a track that you have to know where to miss it, have to be comfortable with your sight lines, and have to stick to detailed plan of attack.
I’m not going to dig into too many specific stats, but anything accuracy-related is fair game. Driving accuracy may be the one stat to ignore, because this is a less-than-driver course most of the way around. Players will be hitting a ton of fairways with irons and hybrids, so don’t emphasize that as much. I will, however, be looking at certain trends, such as players who gain strokes in the wind, on Bermuda greens, and on short courses. Looking at the Florida, Georgia, and Carolina residents who perform well on Bermuda greens, you’ll see names like Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Harris English, Bill Haas, Lucas Glover, and Ben Martin. The other connection that I’ll mention is that Harbour Town is a Pete Dye design. His unique course style caters towards a certain type of player, and many of these players are in the field this week: Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas, Russell Knox, Marc Leishman, Ben Martin, Scott Brown, and Brendan Steele.
And now on to the picks! You’ll notice that I’ve excluded the top two players in pricing this week (Jason Day and Paul Casey). Both are very capable of winning or at least making value, but we can’t play everyone. I think Day and Casey will be extremely popular picks this week, so I’ll fade them in GPPs and try to construct some more balanced rosters. Here are the guys I’m looking at in all of the pricing tiers:
Brandt Snedeker ($10,600) – Coming off another strong performance at The Masters, Snedeker is one of my favorite plays of the week. He has a spotty course history, but did win the event in 2011. He’s an excellent putter and scrambler, and has been one of the hottest players on Tour all year. Snedeker is part of Team RBC, and these guys always seem to show up at Harbour Town.
Matt Kuchar ($10,300) – Similar comments to what I just said about Snedeker, although Kuchar’s course history is pretty immaculate. Kuch won the event in 2014, and finished 5th a year ago. He’s the definition of a plodder, and knows this track as well as anyone. Kuchar lives in Sea Island, GA, so he has experience at a similar seaside course. He performs well on Pete Dye courses and on Bermuda greens. Fire up Kuch this week.
Kevin Kisner ($9,700) – Kisner is one of the many locals in the field who I like this week, residing in Aiken, SC. Like Kuchar, he knows these types of golf courses so well, and should feel comfortable with the strategist’s approach to Harbour Town. Kisner lost in a playoff to Jim Furyk at last year’s RBC Heritage. The only hesitance I have with Kisner this week is that his scrambling hasn’t been strong this year, but I think he will be able to hit a large percentage of the greens this week.
Billy Horschel ($8,900) – He’s a Florida Gator, so that fits the mold of Bermuda green specialists we’re targeting this week. BillyHo is one of the streakiest golfers in the world, so get on him now while the iron’s hot. He’s made eight straight cuts and has three top-20s in that span (including last week at The Masters). Horschel also finished 9th here in 2013. Although his stats don’t jump off the page, he’s scoring high in my model this week and I just have a great feeling about BillyHo.
Jason Dufner ($8,600) – Dufner is a little under the radar this week, which I like, coming off a MC at Augusta. But before that, he was playing very solid golf and already has a win at the Career Builder this year. Duf has made six cuts in a row at Harbour Town, and should feel very comfortable plodding his way around this week. He can get dialed in with his irons as much as any player on Tour, and his accuracy will be very helpful this week.
Danny Lee ($8,300) – One of my favorite picks of the week. The only worry with Danny Lee is that he has a tendency to WD if things aren’t going well. Coming off a long, grueling week at Augusta, a bad Thursday for Lee could lead to a withdraw. But we can’t expect that. Although he doesn’t have much course history, Harbour Town is a perfect fit for his game. Lee is an accuracy player who scrambles fairly well, and I think he’s got a great chance at a top-10 this week.
Webb Simpson ($7,900) – Webb is another Carolina resident who should feel very comfortable at Harbour Town. We’ve heard both him and his caddie, Paul Tesori, mention that this is one of those tracks that fit’s Webb’s eye. He finished 2nd here in 2013. The only concern with Webb (always) is his putter, but considering his success on Pete Dye courses and on Bermuda greens, I’ll roll the dice this week.
Harris English ($7,800) – Georgia Bulldog. English is a good ball striker and excellent putter, who should be able to club down this week to hit some fairways. He’s been fairly consistent in making cuts this year and is due for a breakout performance. English has a previous top-10 here, finishing 8th in 2012.
Patton Kizzire ($7,500) – Another player from Georgia who I think will feel at home on this course. Kizzire came out on fire this year, and although he’s slowed a little, he’s flashed signs of a world-class game. He’s not a long hitter, but he’s accurate and scrambles very well. Kizzire hasn’t played the event before, but I’m sure he’s played Harbour Town on many occasions, so I’ll overlook the course history.
Scott Brown ($7,500) – Brown recently mentioned on the Tour Junkies podcast that he loves this course, and although he only has one strong finish, I’ll take his word. Brown has been on fire lately, with three top-10s in his last five events. He’s another accuracy player who should feel very comfortable maneuvering his way around Harbour Town. And at this fair price, I think Brown offers a ton of value and top-10 upside.
Sean O’Hair ($7,200) – I still have a little scar tissue from his Thursday WD at Valspar, but I’ll give him a second chance. O’Hair finished 6th here last year and was 10th in his last tournament on Tour. He checks a ton of boxes for me this week, including strokes gained putting, scrambling, bogey avoidance, and par-4 scoring average. O’Hair seems to have found his game this year and I think a win is coming soon.
Mark Hubbard ($6,600) – This price is still too cheap for a guy who has made 14/16 cuts on Tour this year, although he does have limited upside. He’s accurate, he’s a great scrambler, and he avoids bogeys. My only concern is that this will be his first time seeing the golf course. In any event, I think Hubbard makes the cut this week and flirts with a top-25 finish.
Sung Kang ($6,300) – Surprisingly, Kang has seen the course before, albeit a MC in 2012. But he’s a new player this year, and has been playing really consistent golf (with two top-10s) recently. He’s an excellent scrambler and has the huge advantage of having Jim Furyk’s caddie, “Fluff”, back on the bag this week. Considering Furyk’s success at this course, I’ll take a couple shots with Kang.
Davis Love III ($6,100) – The ultimate course history play here. The US Ryder Cup Captain has won Harbour Town a record 5 times, and has really been playing great golf of late. At this price, a made cut is really all you’re looking for, and I don’t think anybody else in this range has a better chance of making value than DL3.
Zac Blair ($5,800) – Blair has really struggled this season but has made his last two cuts and seems to be trending in the right direction. He’s pure accuracy, and is an excellent scrambler who has had success on similar courses. He made the cut last year in his only appearance at Harbour Town, but I think he builds on that this week with a top-30 finish.
Good luck this week!