The First Look: RBC Heritage
April 06, 2018
By Jeff Shain , PGATOUR.COM
- April 06, 2018
Wesley Bryan's breakout win at RBC Heritage
Dustin Johnson returns to his home-state TOUR stop for the first time since 2009, joining defending champion Wesley Bryan – also a South Carolina native – to celebrate the 50th playing of the state’s largest sporting event.
Luke Donald, runner-up in three of the past four years, is back for another shot at that elusive first Harbour Town triumph. On the flip side, five-time champion Davis Love III heads the list of 11 former champions in the field to commemorate a golden anniversary.
FIELD NOTES: Patton Kizzire, No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, and Valspar Championship winner Paul Casey help give the field three of the current top 10 in the points race. … As far as world ranking, Harbour Town welcomes seven of the top 25. … Darren Clarke, who finished two shots behind Peter Lonard in 2005, returns to Harbour Town for the first time in 12 years. A new tavern four miles from the course also bears his name. … Beau Hossler, a playoff victim to Ian Poulter in Houston with a Masters berth at stake, is back in action after an idle week. Poulter also returns after a tie for 11th last year. … U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman tees it up again after missing the Masters cut. It’ll be the Clemson sophomore’s third start in five weeks against PGA TOUR competition. … Steve Stricker, who has won two of three starts on the PGA TOUR Champions circuit, ventures back to Harbour Town for the first time in 20 years.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
STORYLINES: Johnson, bedeviled by Harbour Town’s narrow confines in his previous two visits, hopes things are different nine years later. Four rounds there have yet to produce one under par. … Donald’s hard-luck Heritage history has produced seven top-3 finishes in the past nine years, including three in which he’s failed to convert the 54-hole lead. He trails two-time champ Jim Furyk by just $88,283 on the all-time earnings list. … Bryan was the first man since 2012 to win the tartan jacket without playing Augusta National the week before. Since the Heritage moved into the post-Masters slot 35 years ago, just seven winners had not come over from Augusta. … Love tees it up again with son Dru as a fellow competitor. With the late Davis Love Jr. taking part in the first two editions in 1969-70, they are first three-generation family in Heritage annals.
COURSE: Harbour Town Golf Links, 7,099 yards, par 71. Still a timeless test as it marks its own half-century, the Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus venture rewards – and confounds – some of the game’s best shotmakers. Power golf gives way to placement and strategy, with narrow fairways bordered by pines and overhanging oaks ready to swat down an errant shot. Harbour Town’s greens are no less challenging – small in surface and deftly contoured. Though the course lost some 300 trees when Hurricane Matthew hit 18 months ago, replacements have taken hold in strategic locales. Harbour Town’s iconic lighthouse behind the 18th green boasts a new look this year – a tartan wrapping to mark the 50th edition.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Brian Gay (2009).
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, David Frost (2nd round, 1994), Troy Merritt (2nd round, 2015).
LAST YEAR: Bryan became the first South Carolina native to win his home state’s event, rising above a leaderboard logjam to finish a stroke ahead of Donald. The former University of South Carolina standout erased a three-shot deficit with four consecutive birdies on the front nine, adding two more at Nos. 13 and 15 to finish off a 4-under-par 67. He was the only man in the final three Sunday pairings to card better than a 73. Donald (68) – in the hunt yet again after four runner-up finishes – held the solo lead with four holes left but couldn’t coax one more birdie as Bryan made his closing bid. Ollie Schniederjans (68) also briefly held a share of the lead on the back nine, finishing third alongside Patrick Cantlay (67) and William McGirt (69).
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ET (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).