Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 RBC Heritage Picks.
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2023 RBC Heritage: Field
147 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make the Cut
First Tee Time: Thursday, April 13
Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth
With its designated status for 2023, the RBC Heritage will sport a field of 147 players, it also has its strongest field ever. Including when it was positioned as the second event after golf returned out of the COVID hiatus. Now, you can argue that’s a bit disingenuous because so many top players joined the LIV TOUR and are not eligible for the field, but we still get 98 of the world’s Top 100 at Harbour Town. Pretty good. It’s so good, in fact, the strength of the field is stronger than at The Masters.
Since the field is usually caped at 132 players, and there are 147 this year, unless the are so many withdraws that the field size drops below 132, any player who decides not to tee off prior to the start of the tournament, they will not be replaced by anyone. Tough scene for the alternates.
The biggest absence is Hideki Matsuyama, who won’t be making the short trip from Augusta to Hilton Head Island. World No. 45 Aaron Wise is out again; he last played at the WGC Match Play. Also, Will Zalatoris, who withdrew from The Masters before hitting a shot, is currently listed in the field. But could very well pull out before the event starts.
NOTE: Rory McIlroy, Will Zalatoris, Alen Noren, Jason Day with withdrawn from the RBC Heritage.
2023 RBC Heritage: Key Stats
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Good Drives Gained
- Strokes Gained Putting
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2023 RBC Heritage: Course
- Course: Harbour Town GL
- Par: 71
- Yardage: 7,191
- Greens: Bermuda
2023 RBC Heritage: Past Winners
- 2022: Jordan Spieth -13
- 2021: Stewart Cink -19
- 2020: Webb Simpson -22
- 2019: CT Pan -12
- 2018: Satoshi Kodaira -12
- 2017: Wes Bryan -13
- 2016: Branden Grace -9
2023 RBC Heritage: Notes
Harbour Town is one of the few courses on the PGA TOUR where driving means relatively little. That’s not to say you can be terrible off the tee and win, but looking at the Strokes Gained history from this event, SG: Off The Tee means less than SG: Around the Green among top-10 finishers. That’s a rarity.
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 RBC Heritage. Last year, of the top nine leaders in SG: APP, seven appeared in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Like most Pete Dye courses, overall course strategy from tee to green needs to be on display more so than an average tournament. 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 being 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. Focusing on approach and putting is the path this week. Which makes the leaderboard accessible to all skill sets.
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 American Express)
- Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
- Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA Championship)
- Kiawah Island (2012 PGA Championship)
Of players who have played more than four rounds on Pete Dye courses, Shane Lowry is the only one who has gained at least 2.0 strokes per round on the field since the beginning of 2021. Here are the full per round leaders...
— c/o FantasyNational.com
Along with other Dye tracks, nearby Sea Island Resort (RSM Classic) and The Wyndham Championship are the courses with the most crossover success. Beyond those two, similar length, Bermuda grass green courses which have produced similar names at the top of leaderboards include the Sony Open and Honda Classic.
Harbour Town features tree-lined fairways and measures on the short side of PGA TOUR courses, coming in at around 7,100 yards. Even with three Par 5s, eagles are tough to come by for the field, regardless of distance. Hole 2 has a 2.7% eagle rate and Hole 5 is at 1.9%.
Harbour Town annually ranks as the course with the fewest drives over 300 yards and shortest average driving distance on the PGA TOUR; just 268 yards off the tee, compared to the PGA TOUR average of 284 yards. For example, on the Par 4s at Harbour Town in his career, Dustin Johnson averaged around 286 yards per drive. That is well below his average driving distance at almost any other course, you know, when he was allowed to compete on the PGA TOUR.
After a two year pause, Spieth started a new Sunday comeback streak. Eight of the past ten champions have entered Sunday with at least a two-stroke deficit. Stewart Cink entered the final round up five on Collin Morikawa. Webb Simpson, the 2020 winner, was one of four tied for the lead entering Sunday. C.T. Pan was two behind DJ three years ago; Satoshi Kodaira trailed Ian Poulter by six strokes entering the final round in 2018. Six of the past 13 years The RBC Heritage has gone to a playoff, as well. Overall, only four co-leaders after three rounds have gone on to win since 2010.
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. One of the reasons Simpson was able to break the tournament record in 2020 was due to an unusual lack of wind all four days. Of the previous 12 rounds at The Heritage, more rounds have been played in winds greater than 17 mph than under 10 mph.
2023 RBC Heritage Pick
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After another masterful ball striking performance at Augusta National, Shane Lowry has now finished inside the top 10% of the field in SG: T2G in four of his past five starts. It’s not like it was a bunch of jabroni tournaments either: Genesis, Honda, THE PLAYERS and The Masters. He couldn’t putt any of those weeks. The one week he actually could, at Bay Hill? He magically lost the ability to drive and hit irons. Golf’s super weird. Now, beyond gaining the most strokes per round on Pete Dye courses, Lowry’s finished in the Top 10 at Harbour Town three of the past four years, and has actually gained on the greens in four of his five starts lifetime. One of these weeks everything is going to align for him, so why not at a place where it’s almost already happened multiple times before.
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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 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.
Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.