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      Power Rankings: RBC Heritage

    • Luke Donald is a top-5 machine at Harbour Town and is one to watch this week. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Luke Donald is a top-5 machine at Harbour Town and is one to watch this week. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    As the crow flies, it's only 114 miles from Augusta, Ga., to Hilton Head Island, S.C., but for those making the short trip to this week's RBC Heritage from the season's first major, it can be a cathartic experience. Left behind is the stress and the urgency of peaking for a historic occasion. What awaits along the banks of Calibogue Sound is an arguably more relaxing week of competition.

    Similar to the stark dichotomy of golf courses that comprise the two-event swing through Hawaii in early January -- mountainous Kapalua and sea-level Waialae are just 80 miles apart -- Harbour Town Golf Links favors the small ball that's not as relevant at Augusta National.

    Created by Pete Dye, who updated the track in 2011, Harbour Town stretches just 7,101 yards and boasts a litany of shot-makers as champions, including Graeme McDowell, who defends last year's playoff victory over Webb Simpson. The general understanding to succeed here is placement off the tee. Even lies in fairways could yield obstructed angles due to sharp turns and low-hanging tree limbs.

    McDowell tied for fifth in fairways hit and finished T7 in greens in regulation last year. He also led the field in scrambling and ranked sixth in strokes gained-putting. It's this kind of precision attack that this week's winner will likely author.

    At +1.038 strokes to par, Harbour Town was the third-hardest par 71 of nine played in non-majors last season. Its GIR percentage of 57.15 was lowest on TOUR, not shocking given that the putting surfaces average just 3,700 square feet. Still, the par-breakers split of 16.49 percent was an eight-year low.

    A moderate threat of rain and possibly thunderstorms populates the forecast on Friday and Saturday, but the primary test pre-cut is expected to come in the form of sustained winds of at least 15 mph. Rising temperatures will find a ceiling in the mid-70s by the weekend when breezes should abate.

    POWER RANKINGS: RBC HERITAGE

    RANK

    PLAYER

    COMMENT

    1 Jim Furyk Jim Furyk

    Second in all-time earnings here with a win (2010), two seconds and three more top 10s. Coming off T6 at the Valero and T14 at the Masters.

    Second in all-time earnings here with a win (2010), two seconds and three more top 10s. Coming off T6 at the Valero and T14 at the Masters.

    2 Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar

    A T5 at the Masters was his third straight top five, but he's scored no better than 72 (Houston) in any of his last five final rounds.

    A T5 at the Masters was his third straight top five, but he's scored no better than 72 (Houston) in any of his last five final rounds.

    3 Luke Donald Luke Donald

    Two seconds and two thirds in the last five editions. Ranks a predictable seventh in strokes gained-putting and third in scrambling.

    Two seconds and two thirds in the last five editions. Ranks a predictable seventh in strokes gained-putting and third in scrambling.

    4 Kevin Na Kevin Na

    Back injury prevented a start last year; top 10s in 2011 and 2012. No worse than T14 (Bay Hill) in his last three starts this season.

    Back injury prevented a start last year; top 10s in 2011 and 2012. No worse than T14 (Bay Hill) in his last three starts this season.

    5 Chris Stroud Chris Stroud

    Seven top 20s in 2013, including a T12 in Houston two weeks ago. Sits 12th in adjusted scoring; fourth in scrambling. T6 here last year.

    Seven top 20s in 2013, including a T12 in Houston two weeks ago. Sits 12th in adjusted scoring; fourth in scrambling. T6 here last year.

    6 Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell

    Defending champ logged top 10s in four of his first five starts of 2014. Leads TOUR in strokes gained-putting; ninth in adjusted scoring.

    Defending champ logged top 10s in four of his first five starts of 2014. Leads TOUR in strokes gained-putting; ninth in adjusted scoring.

    7 Charley Hoffman Charley Hoffman

    Top 10s in his last two stops at Harbour Town. Shared 36-hole lead last year; led outright after 54 holes. Seven top 25s this season.

    Top 10s in his last two stops at Harbour Town. Shared 36-hole lead last year; led outright after 54 holes. Seven top 25s this season.

    8 Will MacKenzie Will MacKenzie

    Had two weeks off following his co-runner-up at the VTO. Five top 10s on the season; another four top 20s. Fourth in adjusted scoring.

    Had two weeks off following his co-runner-up at the VTO. Five top 10s on the season; another four top 20s. Fourth in adjusted scoring.

    9 Harris English Harris English

    Consecutive cuts made streak ended at 15 with a short week in Masters' debut, but has six top 10s this season. T8 here two years ago.

    Consecutive cuts made streak ended at 15 with a short week in Masters' debut, but has six top 10s this season. T8 here two years ago.

    10 Zach Johnson Zach Johnson

    Superb fit for Harbour Town where he placed second in 2012. Tied for sixth at TPC San Antonio three weeks ago. Four top 10s this season.

    Superb fit for Harbour Town where he placed second in 2012. Tied for sixth at TPC San Antonio three weeks ago. Four top 10s this season.

    11 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth

    Remarkable debut at the Masters where he tied for second. Shared ninth in his first look at Harbour Town last year.

    Remarkable debut at the Masters where he tied for second. Shared ninth in his first look at Harbour Town last year.

    12 Pat Perez Pat Perez

    All three cuts made here are top 20s, including a T18 last year. Six top 20s this season, including a T11 in his last start at the Valero.

    All three cuts made here are top 20s, including a T18 last year. Six top 20s this season, including a T11 in his last start at the Valero.

    13 Jerry Kelly Jerry Kelly

    Quietly enjoying solid season. Valero T6 was his third top 10. Ranks 44th in adjusted scoring; 40th in scrambling. Solo fifth here in 2013.

    Quietly enjoying solid season. Valero T6 was his third top 10. Ranks 44th in adjusted scoring; 40th in scrambling. Solo fifth here in 2013.

    14 Kevin Stadler Kevin Stadler

    Ball-striking has already shone here once (T4, 2012), but it was on display at the Masters where he tied for eighth in his debut.

    Ball-striking has already shone here once (T4, 2012), but it was on display at the Masters where he tied for eighth in his debut.

    15 Matt Every Matt Every

    Missed Masters' cut in his debut, but capped a strong run with his breakthrough win at Bay Hill. Shared eighth at Harbour Town in 2012.

    Missed Masters' cut in his debut, but capped a strong run with his breakthrough win at Bay Hill. Shared eighth at Harbour Town in 2012.

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