2020 RBC Heritage Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, Preview
Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2020 RBC Heritage Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Harbour Town GL.
2020 RBC Heritage Live Chat and Q&A at 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday 2020 RBC Heritage — Picks + Preview | Picks/Field/Course | Picks Video | Stats/Tools
The millionaire slate locks at 6:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 18. Set your lineups here: PGA TOUR $2.25M Millionaire [$1M to 1st].
2020 RBC Heritage Field
Field: Over 154 Players | Top 65 and Ties Make the Cut after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, June 18 at 6:45 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: CT Pan
As the PGA Tour shift’s its bubble from Dallas to an island outside a Bryson DeChambeau drive away from the Georgia/South Carolina border, the field at the 2020 RBC Heritage remains similar to a week ago with a few interchangeable names picked up and dropped off along the way.
Generally played the week after the Masters, Harbour Town (yes, that ‘u’ is supposed to be in there), much like Colonial, is historically a tier two field in terms of strength. No longer. For the first time in tournament history, each of the top six players in the world rankings will be on grounds; first time since 1986 the top three will be making a cameo.
There was an expectation Tiger Woods would be making his post-COVID break debut. Not happening. Seems like all those live updates on the whereabouts of his yacht were a waste of time. No timetable — yet — on when we see Tiger in competitive play. My guess: Memorial on July 16. Originally, world No. 7 Patrick Cantlay had committed to the event, but he too is absent for the second consecutive week. Cantlay, who has played this tournament each of the last three years (with three Top 10s), was dealing with a diverted septum back in February and has a history of back problems, so maybe he’s still getting himself right.
But enough of who didn’t decide to join the fun. After bailing on Texas, Hideki Matsuyama and Tyrrell Hatton will be at Harbour Town. As will 2011 champion Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker was originally in the field last week at Colonial before deciding to withdraw on the Monday before the first tee. No reason was given, but it doesn’t appear to health-related.
Additionally, Russell Henley, Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Aaron Wise, Sam Burns, Kevin Chappell, Kyle Stanley, Austin Cook, Stewart Cink, Michael Thompson, JJ Spaun, Ernie Els, Peter Malnati, Cameron Tringale, KJ Choi, David Hearn, Matt Every, Ryan Armour, Vijay Singh, Roger Sloan, Chris Stroud, Davis Love III, and Michael Kim have emerged after last week’s absence. Luke List is back on the PGA Tour a week after claiming his first victory since 2012 on the Korn Ferry Tour. Wes Bryan, the 2017 champ, is making his first Tour start since November 2018. Georgia standout earned his spot into the field last July after rallying from 11 strokes down in the final round of the 2019 Players Amateur. This will be his debut PGA Tour start.
Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.
2020 RBC Heritage: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4s Gained
Strokes Gained: Putting
Birdies or Better Gained
Par 3 Efficiency: 175-200 Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2020 RBC Heritage: Course
Course: Harbour Town GL
2020 RBC Heritage: Past Winners
CT Pan -12
Satoshi Kodaira -12 (Playoff)
Wesley Bryan -13
Branden Grace -9
Jim Furyk -18 (Playoff)
Matt Kuchar -11
Graeme McDowell -9 (Playoff)
Carl Pettersson -14
Brandt Snedeker -14 (Playoff)
Jim Furyk -13 (Playoff)
2020 RBC Heritage: Strategy
With the juggling of the schedule due to the pandemic, the players are getting a bunch of similar style courses in a row. Similar, not the same. Like Colonial, Harbour Town features tree-lined fairways and measures on the short side of PGA Tour courses, coming in a pace under 7,100 yards, but adding an extra Par 5 to the fray. One of the major differences, however, is how to attack off the tee. As witnessed over the weekend at the Charles Schwab, there was a bomb and gouge aspect to Colonial, which turned the course into a wedge fest. With so many forced layups at Harbour Town, it will be interesting to see if the same strategy is effective.
Harbour Town annually ranks as the course with the fewest drives over 300 yards and shortest average driving distance on TOUR; just 267 yards off the tee, compared to the TOUR average of 284 yards. Now, is that a due to most of the world’s top players skip this event in a post-Masters malaise and we’re left with short strikers at the top of the leaderboard because that skill set is the common trait of the usual best players in the field? Maybe. We witnessed course history rendered almost completely useless at Colonial with the swap in date and massive upgrade in field strength.
As a test case, known gripper and ripper Dustin Johnson ($8,500). Seems like a decent place to start. DJ has played The Heritage the past two years averaging 311 yards and 299 yards in driving distance en route to T28 and T16 finishes — he was leading after three rounds a year ago before riding a back nine bogey train to a Sunday 77. Now, those distance totals were slightly below his season average, but not too far behind. It appears there are enough forced layups to quell the distance a touch, but there are still enough spots to open it up off the tee. I only bring this up since distance was supremely undervalued last week and a quick peek at the leaderboard reveals a slew of bombers near the top. Granted, there were cuttable dog legs a week ago, where those just don’t exist this time around. On 88 Par 4s at Harbour Town, DJ is averaging a shade over 286 yards per drive.
Hit it as far as you want but there is a cheat code to Harbour Town. One Word: Angles. Like most Dye courses, overall course strategy from tee-to-green needs to be on display more so than an average course. Hitting fairways is great and all, but a lot of these holes are structured in a way where being in the right rough generates a better birdie opportunity than situated in the left section of the fairway. With its tiny greens, the field only hits greens at a 58% rate, making it one of the lowest average GIR rates of any course, so taking advantage of the proper angle will be imperative to scoring.
Over the past six years, Strokes Gained: Approach has been almost three times more impactful than Strokes Gained: Off The Tee and Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green among the Top 5 finishers at The Heritage. Last year, of the Top 18 leaders in SG: APP, 13 came inside the Top 16 on the leaderboard.
Hopefully, the increased star power doesn’t squash what makes this tournament annually one of the best on the circuit: Its competitiveness. Each of the past seven winners have entered Sunday with at least a two-stroke deficit. The last 54-hole leader to win was Carl Pettersson in 2012. Pan was two behind DJ a year ago; Kodaira tailed Ian Poulter by six strokes entering the final round in 2018. Five of the past 10 years the RBC Heritage has gone to a playoff, too.
Yes, the course is difficult, but the elements always end up playing a factor. On Hilton Head Island, while there is usually a consistent, coastal breeze, certain rounds at Harbour Town can be played in full-on gale-force winds. Of the past eight rounds at The Heritage, more rounds have been played in winds greater than 17 mph than under 10 mph (three-to-two). This adds an extra level of randomness to the leaderboard and could be a reason the skill gap between bombers and shot hitters isn’t as pronounced as most events.
Since this is a coastal course, there’s always the opportunity for wind to play a factor in the final result. And, since this is a Pete Dye design, there are going to be a series of blind approaches and course management will factor in greatly. Course history is a crapshoot at most venues, but Pete Dye history is something to note at Heritage. Understanding the tricks the course is going to play on you comes along with experience at different Dye designs.
Pete Dye Courses on The PGA Tour
TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)
TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship)
TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
Austin Country Club (WGC Match Play)
TPC Stadium Course at La Quinta (Two rounds at The CareerBuilder)
Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA Championship)
Kiawah Island (2012 PGA Championship)
Along with Dye tracks, nearby Sea Island Resort (RSM Classic) is the course with the most crossover success. That will be better for determining mid-level success and sleepers, as the world’s best rarely venture to coastal Georgia at the end of November. Beyond the RSM, similar length, bermudagrass green courses which have produced similar names at the top of leaderboards are: Sony Open, Mayakoba Classic, Honda Classic and The Wyndham Championship.
2020 RBC Heritage — Targets From Each Range
Webb Simpson, $9,000
Maybe it was rust. Maybe it was the Bentgrass greens, Maybe it was just a bad opening round. Either way, watching Webb rebound after a disastrous Thursday was enough encouragement to get back on the train after busting out a week ago. And, the best part, due to massive recency bias Simpson is now the betting board opposed to last week and will likely have a stink on him amongst DraftKings players. And nothing has really changed. After being one of the worst players in the field at Colonial round one, he went out and chalked up +2.4 in round two while gaining an impressive +3.2 ball striking. The putter just never complied. The 2.9 strokes lost on the greens were the most at any event since the 2019 Valspar Championship; the site of his previous last missed cut. In the 18 events in between, he never lost more than one stroke over four rounds, and he finished positive for the week on the greens 16 times. Let’s call it a blip and focus on Webb being one of the world’s premier iron and Par 4 players.
Sungjae Im, $9,700
Short, Bermudagrass course? Sungjae time. Inconsistent, compared to most elite players, round-to-round with his irons, Im keeps finding ways to stake a claim on every leaderboard. You know he’s been great when a Top 10 at Colonial isn’t even regarded. But that’s now three Top 10s in a row, with a win, for the FedEx Cup leader and he now gets back to his style of course: Short with potentially windy conditions. Over his past 50 rounds, Im ranks Top 15 in this field in Birdies or Better, Greens in Regulation, Par 4s Gained, Putting and Good Drives.
<strongKevin Na, ($7,300)
Like Webb, Na fell victim to a cold putter in the opening round at the Charles Schwab. A three-time Top 10 finisher at Harbour Town in his past six starts, Na gained in all three Tee-to-Green metrics in his two rounds a week ago. Not unexpected possessing a solid irons and a quality short game, but gaining off the tee? That’s new. It wasn’t much (+0.4 SG: OTT), but it never needs to be for Na, considering he’d lost an average of 1.5 strokes from the tee box in his previous 10 starts. If he can keep that — a reasonable ask — and get back to putting like usual, you have a player with considerable win equity for his range, who no one wants to use after he burned them. Sneakily, third in this field in Par 3s Gained 175-200 yards over the past 50 rounds too. Three of the four Par 3s fall in that range this week, two of which historically play amounts the five toughest holes.
Editor’s Note: Kevin Na has withdrawn from the RBC Heritage.
Maverick McNealy, $7,100
Mav has been sneaky good all year in all four tee-to-green metrics and no one seems to care. Shook off a poor start at Colonial to end up T32 by the time Sunday was finished, earning him his 11th cut made in his past 12 starts. He lost off the tee, the weakest part of his game, but now gets a course where the gap between the best and worst drivers is mitigated because of the lay out. If he can keep putting and striking his irons at his current rate, a third Top 20 in five starts isn’t out of the question. If the putter gets really hot, he could be the name on the leaderboard most people have to Google.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: TBD Tuesday
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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