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Draws and Fades: Ludvig Åberg, Sahith Theegala among choices at wide open RBC Heritage

7 Min Read

Draws and Fades


    Written by Justin Lemminn @PGATOUR

    A pack of four players are tied at the top of the leaderboard after Round 2 of the RBC Heritage at 11-under par. An additional 13 players are within four strokes of the leaders, setting up what should be an exciting weekend at Harbour Town Golf Links.

    Collin Morikawa, who is among the pack at 11-under, appears to be finding his form after a revitalizing performance at the Masters that saw him in contention late on Sunday before two double bogeys at Nos. 9 and 11 derailed his attempt at completing the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    J.T. Poston, Tom Hoge and Sepp Straka are the three others tied for the lead with Morikawa. Of the four, Poston has the best track record around Harbour Town with three top-8 finishes in six career starts, including a T3 in 2022. Poston, the two-time winner on TOUR, is among a contingent of TOUR pros that reside is Sea Island, Georgia, just over two hours south of Hilton Head Island. Needless to say, the close proximity to home and familiarity with coastal golf in the Southeast is beneficial.

    J.T. Poston's interview after Round 2 of RBC Heritage

    Coincidentally, Straka shared T3 honors with Poston at the RBC Heritage in 2022 and went to school only 4 1/2 hours away from Hilton Head Island in Athens, Georgia.

    For anyone who has followed this tournament in the past, a crowded leaderboard here should be no surprise.

    The past two years on Hilton Head Island has seen the RBC Heritage go into a playoff with Jordan Spieth besting Patrick Cantlay in 2022 only for Spieth to fall to Matt Fitzpatrick the next year in his title defense.

    In fact, if you were to look back at the past 11 playings of the RBC Heritage, five were completed in a playoff with four others being one-stroke victories leaving just two of the past 11 editions being won by two or more strokes.

    This year appears to be setting up to follow that trend of close finishes at Harbour Town and with this being one of the TOUR's eight Signature Events (one of five that has no cut), plenty of firepower will be on the course efforting a low weekend to capture the iconic plaid jacket.

    Friday saw big names surge up the leaderboard to position themselves to make the move needed on the weekend. Xander Schauffele (7-under), Scottie Scheffler (6-under), Cantlay (5-under), Morikawa (5-under) and Masters runner-up Ludvig Åberg (5-under) are just a handful of notable low rounds on a day that saw only eight of 69 rounds over par.

    This is a good indicator of what to expect for Saturday and Sunday.

    Historically, the 36-hole leaderboard does not necessarily indicate who the winner will be as Moving Day at Harbour Town tends to see just that. Big moves.

    The two playoff competitors last year, Spieth and Fitzpatrick, were five and six strokes back, respectively, of 36-hole leader Jimmy Walker. In 2022 Spieth came back from four strokes back heading into the weekend.

    Because of this, the tournament feels wide open for anyone within five or six shots at the halfway point. That leaves us with 29 players to narrow down to find a champion, and we'll do just that.

    Here are the latest outright odds from BetMGM Sportsbook.

    • +450: Collin Morikawa (11-under, T1)
    • +450: Scottie Scheffler (8-under, T10)
    • +500: Ludvig Åberg (10-under, T5)
    • +900: J.T. Poston (11-under, T1)
    • +1100: Patrick Cantlay (9-under, T8)
    • +1100: Sepp Straka (11-under, T1)
    • +1200: Tom Hoge (11-under, T1)
    • +1800: Sahith Theegala (9-under, T8)
    • +2200: Mackenzie Hughes (10-under, T5)
    • +2200: Rory McIlroy (7-under, T12)


    Ludvig Åberg +500

    It would've been great to get his pre-tournament odds of +1200, who's odds were essentially cut in half after Round 1 to +650. They've been shortened yet again, and rightfully so. For those that were skittish at the +1200 number, it's understandable. A young player with no course history at Harbour Town coming off an emotional runner-up finish in his first major start at the Masters just last week, the signs would point to a potential letdown spot at the RBC Heritage. This week has been anything but. Carding back-to-back 66s to sit just one back at 10-under, the young Swede has still left a lot of scoring opportunities on the course.

    Åberg ranks first in the field through two rounds in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach outgaining the second golfer in the ball-striking category by 2.32 strokes. However, when he gets to the green he ranks 30th in SG: Putting. This is out of character as Åberg gained 7.7 strokes on the greens at Augusta National, leading the field on greens that were tough to conquer all week.

    So I am chalking up his struggles this week with the putter to the fact that he is coming back from a tournament in which putting was extremely difficult and he has to get comfortable again on much more manageable greens. The young TOUR pro has won once already in his short career so 'first time' nerves will not factor into his performance this weekend at Harbour Town. Oh, and his win came only two hours south of Harbour Town at The RSM Classic in November 2023. A man comfortable with golf in this region of the United States, elite ball striking and the expectation of progression from the putter, lock in your +500 tickets now before his odds are even shorter tomorrow night.

    Sahith Theegala +1800

    Albeit only two strokes, I want to put my name behind someone who will have to make a little bit of a comeback this weekend to get in the winner's circle. Theegala has been uncharacteristically bad around the greens to start his 2024 campaign, losing strokes around the greens in six of his first nine measured events (The American Express does not measure strokes gained stats at all the three courses in the tournament's rotation). The shortgame has been the crux of his success thus far this season and he has still managed four top-10s, including two at two of the TOUR's tougher courses, TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course and Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

    When I look at what Theegala has done through two rounds at Harbour Town I notice he hasn't done anything particularly spectacular but more importantly, he hasn't done one thing even remotely below average. His game is well balanced tee-to-green and when he gets to the putting surface, he's gaining 2.17 strokes with his putter. I love banking on someone who can putt and as far as I'm concerned, I don't need to worry about Theegala in that category this weekend. I expect him to hit a few more fairways down the stretch which should yield better opportunities attacking the pins to set up scoring opportunities.

    Theegala has played the RBC Heritage twice, finishing T5 here last season...before his first TOUR win which came five months later at the Fortinet Championship. Moreover, he carded the second-best round of the day on Sunday at Harbour Town in 2023 which gives me even more confidence heading into the weekend.

    Xander Schauffele +4000

    Because I mentioned above that I am eyeing anyone within five or six strokes, I feel compelled to key in on a guy within that range. Schauffele shared round-of-the-day honors with co-leader Hoge after a 7-under 64. Schauffele has a tendency to be able to go low on moment's notice and we saw that today, and I believe could see this weekend.

    Schauffele's day was highlighted by two eagles on the front nine, including an 81-foot, hole-out at the par-4 ninth. For someone that is five strokes back, there are obviously flaws in his game this week and those happen to be around-the-green. But for someone of his caliber, seven top-10s in nine events this season, I don't think it is too far of a stretch for him to match Jordan Spieth's weekend from last year and march to the top from five strokes back at the halfway point.


    Tom Hoge +1200

    A 7-under 64 on Friday jolted Hoge into a share of the lead at 11-under. While impressive, the way he got it done just isn't sustainable in my opinion. He gained 3.6 strokes putting, holing a total of just 22 putts, ranking second and third in the field, respectively, in Round 2. As mentioned earlier, I love a good putter, but it was almost too good for me to believe he can continue his excellence on the greens through the weekend.

    Rory McIlroy +2200

    McIlroy at this number is enticing, given how talented we all know he is. The issue I have is how talented everyone in front of him is as well. When looking at his numbers, nothing stands out as a reason for me to believe he is trending upward. He is stellar around the greens this week but to win on the PGA TOUR, all aspects of your game have to be put together at a stellar level. Right now, McIlroy's isn't.

    Is McIlroy capable of going low twice on Saturday and Sunday to make a run at the tilte, of course. And I do beleive he will be in the conversation on Sunday, but not to the extent of donning the plaid jacket.

    Justin Lemminn is a member of the PGA TOUR's digital content team. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, he went to college at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and is passionate about his hometown Jaguars and the UCF Knights. Follow Justin Lemminn on Twitter.

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