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RBC Heritage Preview

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

The PGA Tour leaves the picturesque Magnolia Lane (and thrilling finish of the 76th Masters) and travels southeast to the magnificent scenery of Hilton Head, S.C., for the 44th RBC-Heritage (and 17th tournament of the Tour season).

With no “Green jacket” at stake, 10 of the past 11 winners at Augusta National have skipped Harbour Town the week following their Masters victory. But a $5.7M purse and (somewhat less famous) “Plaid jacket” for the RBC winner will be up for grabs just the same.

Perennially ranked as one of the nation’s finest courses, Harbour Town Golf Links will host a field of 17 major winners, eight previous RBC champions, and seven conquerors on Tour in 2012.

World No. 1 player Luke Donald will be teeing it up at Hilton Head looking to avenge his sudden-death playoff loss last year to defending champion Brandt Snedeker.

Snedeker held off Donald in sudden death to win the 2011 RBC Heritage (and is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of this event since Boo Weekly in 2008).

Ernie Els will also be in the field and is looking for his first victory of the 2012 season. Els came close in 2007 when Weekly chipped-in on the last two greens to defeat Els by just one stroke. “I can’t wait to tee it up this week,” Els said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Pete Dye designed (and Jack Nicklaus assisted) Harbour Town course doesn’t require “Bubba-Long” power at only 6,973 yards long. But it absolutely obligates precision shot-making, touch and imagination (ranked second in hardest to hit greens-in-regulation this millennium behind only the prominently wicked U.S. Open greens). Small misses result in walloping consequences.

“You really have to shape shots; you really have to think your way around, said Camilo Villegas. “Risk-reward is a very good challenge over here.”

Harbour Town has been referred to as a course featuring 17 hidden gems and one very famous one. The iconic red and white lighthouse positioned as the backdrop for the 18th hole paints a perfectly serene picture heading up the final fairway.

However, treacherous winds off Calibogue Sounds can wreck havoc on players second shots (with a 4.2 stroke average No. 18 is ranked as the second most difficult hole on the course), and in a moments notice turn the photographically charming hole into a hideous nightmare.

The first RBC Heritage was won by Arnold Palmer (283, one-under) in 1969. First time RBC champion Brian Gay established the new tournament record for lowest winning score (264) and lowest 72-hole score (20-under) in 2009. And Davis Love III tops a list of nine men who have won the Heritage multiple times (Love has 5 victories, his last coming in 2003).

Perfect Pairings

Mark Wilson, Kevin Na, Jim Furyk
Luke Donald, Kyle Stanley, Brandt Snedeker
Bill Haas, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington
Camilo Villegas, Henrik Stenson, Justin Leonard
Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Bud Cauley
Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar, Geoff Ogilvy
John Daly, Rickie Fowler, Ricky Barnes
Charlie Hoffman, Bo Van Pelt, Jerry Kelly
George McNeill, Fredrik Jacobson, Carl Pettersson

Notes
Television Coverage
Thursday and Friday: Golf Channel 3:00 -6:00 pm ET
Saturday and Sunday: NBC 3:00 -6:00 pm ET

Radio Coverage
Thursday through Sunday: SiriusXM Satellite Radio 12:00 -6:00 p.m. EST

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

You can follow Pete on twitter @TheGreekGrind

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gifted Golfer

    Apr 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks for the information. I will be watching!

  2. Pingback: RBC Heritage Preview | Augusta Blog

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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