Looking for a quiet spot to unwind, decompress and breathe again after Sunday's exhilarating finish at the 83rd Masters? As of midday Monday, so are the 40 who competed in the major and committed to this week's RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
It's arguable that the field of 132 at Harbour Town Golf Links is as deep as it's ever been, so we're poised for another terrific tournament. What it gets is a consistently fair par 71 tipping at just 7,099 yards. Scroll past the ranking for more on the course, how Satoshi Kodaira repeated a trend you won't find at Augusta National and more.
Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Cameron Smith and 2011 champ Brandt Snedeker will be among the notables covered in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
If you'll accept that professional golfers are golf fans first, then even they appreciate the three days off before the RBC Heritage assumes its position on the stage. Golfers themselves need a minute to digest and comprehend what transpired. Reaction to Tiger Woods' historic victory at the Masters in the media and social media was as wide-ranging as you'll ever see.
When the feels settle, it'll be time to get back to business along the Calibogue Sound in the Lowcountry. No one doesn't love the charm of the tournament that dates back 50 years.
On a short track with greens averaging just 3,700 square feet, the first thought about how to tackle Harbour Town should be devoted to approach shots. Predictably, the course annually ranks among the stingiest in greens in regulation. Last year's clip of 10.7 per round was sixth-lowest of the season. The small targets protect scoring, so hitting a long way isn't as advantageous. It's a fact that connects strongly with purists.
Last year's scoring average of 70.847 is indicative of the test in general. So was the average distance of all drives of 273.0 yards, second-shortest of any course measured in 2017-18. It's quite simple, really. Average and below-average putters can hide, or at least they're not ruled out based on that weakness alone.
The TifEagle bermudagrass surfaces, which are overseeded, are prepped to run no longer than 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. That not only allows for bold strikes with the putter, it also rewards confident short games. Harbour Town always yields a higher percentage in scrambling, so understanding where to miss plays into course management.
At least it should! Both Wesley Bryan (2017) and Kodaira (2018) prevailed in their debuts at Harbour Town. So much for the importance of experience, but good golf is good golf.
Bryan's formula leaned on accuracy on approach and salvaging pars, while Kodaira ranked T7 in greens hit and paced his field in proximity to the hole. Eight of the 13 who finished inside the top 10 on the leaderboard placed inside the top 20 in GIR and/or proximity last year.
The value of precision rises in direct proportion with the velocity of the wind. Given Harbour Town's exposure along the coastline, distance control and lower ball flights are at a premium. Such will be the foundation of this week's challenge as wind will play a role throughout.
The tournament will open and close in fair conditions, but a line of inclement weather will move through on Friday, the threat of which will extend into the early hours of Saturday. Course setup and hole locations will be key as a delay could benefit one side of the draw, particularly if it's playing when the course is most receptive after the threat passes through.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.