April 11, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Will Graeme McDowell continue the impressive streak of defending champions making the cut? (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
• FULL FIELD: Who's playing at the RBC Heritage?
• COURSE: Harbour Town Golf Links, 7,101 yards, par 71. Jack Nicklaus' first venture into course design, in collaboration with Pete Dye, is one of the shortest layouts on the PGA TOUR schedule but remains a timeless test. Narrow fairways and small, deftly contoured greens combine to create a strategic challenge, requiring well-positioned shots to generate birdie chances. Harbour Town’s iconic red-and-white lighthouse behind the 18th green still helps vessels navigate Calibogue Sound.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: The Heritage Classic Foundation, which has contributed more than $26 million to organizations in South Carolina and Georgia since its 1987 start. Recipients include the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and scholarships for some five dozen Beaufort County college students.
• FIELD WATCH: Defending champion Graeme McDowell and former FedExCup winners Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker head up a field that brings together nine of the top 25 in the world rankings. … Davis Love III, winner of five tartan jackets as Heritage champion, returns after a two-year absence brought on by injuries. … World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els makes his 15th start at Harbour Town, still seeking his first victory on the island. He was runner-up to Boo Weekley in 2007. … Hall of Famer Nick Faldo puts down his TV headset for just his second PGA TOUR start in the past four years. He last teed it up at Hilton Head in 2006.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Brian Gay (2009).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, David Frost (2nd round, 1994).
• LAST YEAR: Graeme McDowell thrived in gusty conditions to claim his second PGA TOUR victory, beating Webb Simpson in a playoff with a par on the first extra hole. McDowell made up a four-shot deficit with a 2-under-par 69, but missed winning in regulation when his 13-foot par save on No.18 ran past the hole. Simpson had a chance to win at No.18, but missed a 22-foot birdie try that left him with a 71. McDowell’s victory was his first in a full-field event since the 2010 Valderrama Masters in Europe, though he won the 18-man World Challenge in 2012. Luke Donald tied for third, his fourth top-3 finish at Harbour Town in a five-year span.
• STORYLINES: Despite all those top-3 finishes at the Heritage, Donald continues to seek his first victory on Calibogue Sound. The English pro came closest three years ago, when a playoff loss to Snedeker also dropped him from the No.1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking … McDowell tries to become the Heritage’s fourth back-to-back winner, joining Payne Stewart (1989-90), Love (1991-92) and Weekley (2007-08). McDowell missed the cut at Augusta National – the same setup that accompanied him to Hilton Head last year. … Other top-25 names arriving early after missing the Masters cut: No.10 Zach Johnson, No.17 Charl Schwartzel and No.23 Patrick Reed.
• SHORT CHIPS: Since the Heritage moved into the post-Masters slot in 1983, just six men have won without spending the prior week at Augusta National. However, four have come in the past decade – Aaron Baddeley (2006), Boo Weekley (’07), Brian Gay (’09) and Carl Pettersson (’12). … Despite Harbour Town’s lack of length, only 26 men in the event’s 45-year history have managed to break 70 in all four rounds. The last time it happened was in 2010, when playoff foes Jim Furyk and Brian Davis did so. … No defending champion has missed the cut at Harbour Town since Love in 1993 – a run of 20 consecutive years.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).