Power Rankings: RBC Heritagetext sizeApril 15, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
The RBC Heritage has long embraced its role as a soft landing for those making the jaunt from the Masters. Before a scheduling quirk in 2011 that bumped the tournament two weeks after the season's first major, Hilton Head Island served the next destination on the schedule every year since 1983.
As of midday Monday, 14 of the 34 inside the top 25 on the final leaderboard at Augusta National are scheduled to tee it up at Harbour Town Golf Links this week. For all intents and purposes, it's a shot-maker's paradise. Veteran ball-strikers that position themselves well off the tee and can shape approaches will succeed. As far as the aforementioned anticipated cushion in the wake of the Masters, this week's host track flashed some teeth last year.
As you'd expect from a par 71 that maxes out at 7,101 yards, distance off the tee is irrelevant. Harbour Town ranks inside the top-10 shortest in average driving distance every year; it was fourth in 2012 at 277.8 yards. Meanwhile, last year's fairways-hit percentage of 64.94 was its lowest in recorded history (since data was first archived in 1992).
Breezy conditions contributed to a scoring average of 72.29 last year, highest in the event since 2005. Greens average just 3,700 square feet, so Harbour Town always submits one of the smallest greens-in-regulation splits, but last year's clip of 53.58 percent was its lowest in the last seven years. Par breakers matched the futility of birdie opportunities at 16.93 percent, also the lowest recorded since 2005.
Harbour Town doesn't necessarily penalize as much as it rewards good strikes. Still, while its scrambling percentage of 57.80 ranked in the middle of the pack as compared to all courses played in 2012, it was the track's worst clip since data was first maintained in earnest in 1992.
A quiet week in the sky will greet the field of 144 on Thursday, but a reasonable chance for inclement weather could crash the party on Friday and into Saturday. Winds are expected to freshen along with the threat. Temperatures peaking in the mid-70s will fade into the upper 60s on what is forecast to be a dry Sunday.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners at the RBC Heritage, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: RBC Heritage Rank Player Comment Brandt SNEDEKER Somewhat lost in his pursuit of a Green Jacket last week was that he hadn't played a weekend in two months due to a strained oblique and inconsistent form. Shared 54-hole lead; settled for a T6. Won the RBC Heritage in 2011. Jason DAY Held 36-hole lead at the Masters; finished third. When he was co-runner-up at the Masters in 2011, he tied for ninth at Harbour Town two weeks later. Also shared 22nd place in 2010. Ranks 28th in scrambling; 32nd in the all-around. Jim FURYK The 2010 champion has six top 10s in his last nine appearances, including a T8 last year. Finished T25 at the Masters. Ranks seventh on TOUR in fairways hit and 27th in adjusted scoring. Twelve consecutive cuts made. Bill HAAS Forgettable record in eight starts at Harbour Town (3-for-8, no top 25s), but he's in some kind of groove right now. Co-leads the PGA TOUR with five top 10s; ranks sixth in greens hit. Co-led the Masters in par-4 scoring average; placed T20. Boo WEEKLEY Most recent of three to record back-to-back wins at Harbour Town (2007, 2008). He's added three top 15s since with a T6 in 2012. Survived his last eight cuts this season, including a T8 in Puerto Rico and a runner-up in Tampa. Billy HORSCHEL First-timer at Harbour Town. Leads the PGA TOUR with 21 consecutive cuts made, the last two of which resulted in a T2 in Houston and a T3 in San Antonio. Ranks 23rd in both ball-striking and strokes gained-putting. Luke DONALD He's 5-for-5 this year with one top-15 finish. Tied for 25th place at the Masters. From 2009-2011 at Harbour Town, he finished T2, T3 and solo second, respectively. Ranks seventh in all-time earnings here, highest among non-winners. Matt KUCHAR An up-and-down week at the Masters resulted in a T8, his fourth top 10 of the season. He ranked T17 in greens hit and T10 in scrambling for the week. Survived his last seven cuts at Harbour Town, four of which led to a top 25. Brian DAVIS Site of one of his five career runner-up finishes when he was assessed a penalty for contacting a loose impediment in the hazard beside the 18th green in the playoff in 2010. Two top 25s here since. Recently tied for sixth in Houston. Charley HOFFMAN High on the list of those with converging trends this week. Tied for third in his last start at TPC San Antonio where he ranked ninth in strokes gained-putting. Shared eighth place at last year's RBC Heritage; ranked T7 in GIR. Stewart CINK Placed T25 at the Masters for his fourth top 25 of 2012, tying last year's output. Shared sixth two weeks prior in Houston. Currently 27th in greens hit and 44th in adjusted scoring. Two-time champ at Harbour Town (2000, 2004). Ernie ELS Tied for 13th at the Masters to match his season-best performance. Led the field in both putting and par-5 scoring average. While he's missed the last two cuts at Harbour Town, he's logged seven top 10s in 13 career appearances. Jason DUFNER Coming off a T20 at the Masters where he ranked sixth in greens in regulation and 16th in putting. Overall, he's 33rd on the PGA TOUR in GIR and 65th in adjusted scoring. Top 25s in his last two visits to Harbour Town. Graeme McDOWELL Missed cut on the number at the Masters, but he has three top 10s among four cuts made in six starts this season. Ranks 10th in fairways hit, 13th in strokes gained-putting, first in scrambling and 16th in adjusted scoring. Webb SIMPSON In the midst of a mini-slump after having missed consecutive cuts for the first time since last spring. He ended that 0-for-2 slide with a win at the U.S. Open. Owns a pair of T14s in his last three trips to Harbour Town.