By News Team
13th April 2021
Although we are just one week removed from the Masters, a really strong field has made the journey to South Carolina for the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links. World number one Dustin Johnson headlines the field, while reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa is also in attendance.
Throw in the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and Daniel Berger and you’ve got a pretty stellar cast list. Here’s our preview of the tournament.
Course set up perfectly for Morikawa
Going back through the stats from the recent winners of this tournament and there is a clear trend – approach shots are absolutely crucial. Wesley Bryan ranked third in Strokes Gained: Approach when winning in 2017, Satoshi Kodaira was 11th in his 2018 success, CT Pan 23rd in 2018 and Webb Simpson 10th last year. Given Harbour Town is relatively short by modern-day standards, distance off the tee isn’t important and instead it’s very much about the second shot.
Shorter hitters like Luke Donald have had plenty of success around here and while distance of course makes the second shot easier, it could pay to follow golfers who excel with their approaches to the green. Given COLLIN MORIKAWA tops SG: Approach this season he has to be respected at 20/1. Arguably the best iron player on the planet currently, Morikawa excels at second-shot golf courses where he can fire at flags. His three wins so far have all come when he’s been able to use that strength as an advantage and you feel this course will suit him really well based on his win at Concession a few months ago – a course that resembles this week’s test.
One shouldn’t read too much into his debut performance last year where he finished in a tie for 64th. He played solidly for three rounds but ran out of puff on Sunday, closing with a 74 which was unsurprising given he lost in a play-off to Daniel Berger at the Charles Schwab Challenge the previous week and was more than likely running on empty. The 24-year-old comes into this week off the back of a solid showing at Augusta where a third-round 75 cost him dear. He made six birdies on Sunday, though, and he can go well as he seeks a fourth PGA Tour title in his still fledgling career.
Hatton can hit the heights at Harbour Town
The other player who looks poised for another bold showing at Harbour Town is TYRRELL HATTON at 25/1. Since winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the start of the year, the Englishman hasn’t perhaps been quite at his best with just one top-10 in seven appearances since. It’s not like he’s played badly, he just hasn’t quite had his best stuff, but there were signs at Augusta last week that Hatton is getting back into the swing of things.
By his own admission, Augusta isn’t a course that really fits his eye so to finish in a tie for 18th, his best finish at the Masters yet, was no mean feat. He ended with a round of 68 on Sunday too, featuring five birdies, and he’ll take great confidence from that into this week’s challenge.
As mentioned, this is a golf course where good approach play is rewarded and that will be music to the ears of Hatton, who ranks 10th in that category this season, while he was fourth during the 2020 campaign. And while that is a strong case in itself, Hatton’s claims are heightened by the fact that he’s already shown his liking to the intricacies of Harbour Town. He made his debut here last year and having shot an opening 71, which saw him seven shots off the lead and six behind the eventual winner Webb Simpson, Hatton stormed through the field over the final three days. He was 20 under for the final three rounds and you feel that experience will leave him in really good stead here.