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Hole-By-Hole: The Best and Worst Shots in Masters History (Front 9)

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Everyone has their favorite moments from the Masters.  But what are the best and worst shots in Masters history for each hole at Augusta National?

From shots that directly impacted the outcome of the tournament, to others that were impossibly shocking, miserable, or symbolic in their own right, every hole has a story to tell.

77 years, over 3,000 different players, and more than 1 million shots taken. These are the legendary bests and worsts forever etched in Masters lore.

Related: Hole-By-Hole: The Best And Worst Shots In Masters History (Back 9)

No. 1: Tea Olive — Par 4, 445 yards

Elder Masters  Golf

The Best

It wasn’t a particularly long drive. It didn’t set up a scoring opportunity. But 39-years ago Lee Elder became the first black man to play in the Masters, and his opening drive on Tea Olive ripped through the color barrier at Augusta National once and for all.

By the late 1960s, Congress was troubled that no African-American had ever played in the Masters. And in 1973 they called for Augusta co-founder Clifford Roberts to extend a special invitation to Elder. The soft-spoken Elder would have none of it.

“I don’t want anything special,” Elder said.  “I will make it on my own.”

And he did.

Elder qualified for the 39th Masters by winning the Monsanto Open. Though he’d miss the cut that year, Elder went on to play in six other Masters. But more importantly, Elder’s tee shot in 1975 paved the way for the likes of Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe and Tiger Woods, and created a legacy that would make the game better for us all.

The Worst

“Slammin Sammy” Snead’s beautiful, yet powerful swing is considered by many to be the sweetest in the history of the game. But at the 25th Masters in 1961, Snead’s opening drive created a scene that almost gave new meaning to his moniker.

Snead didn’t give the group ahead of him time to clear the landing area, and his drive nearly shaved the whiskers off fellow competitor, Tommy Bolt. Bolt, known on Tour as “Terrible Tommy,” gave Snead a searing tongue-lashing and even considered “slammin” Sammy before cooler heads prevailed.

Bolt’s tirade wasn’t as frightening as say, Mike Tyson’s “I want to eat your babies” rant towards Lennox Lewis. And fisticuffs were ultimately avoided. But Snead’s psyche was rattled.  The normally unflappable Snead missed a two-foot putt for par and went on to finish nine shots off the lead.

No. 2: Pink Dogwood — Par 5, 575 yards

Louis Oosthuizen 2012 Masters Double Eagle Albatross Pete Pappas TheGreekgrind PGAPappas

The Best

Louis Oosthuizen doesn’t have a green jacket like 1935 Masters champion Gene Sarazen. But thanks to a preposterous double-eagle during the final round of the 2012 Masters, he does have a place in the “Albatross Club” alongside Sarazen.

Oosthuizen’s albatross was straight out of an EA Sports PGA Tour video game. Four-iron, 256 yards, ball hits short of the green, ball bounces favorably onto the green, ball catches the perfect slope, ball feeds some 90-feet towards the hole, ball drops gently over the front lip.

It was the fourth double-eagle in Masters history — the first ever on Pink Dogwood — and it gave Oosthuizen the outright lead. But when Bubba Watson’s slapstick hook-shot on the second playoff hole secured the 76th Masters championship, any thoughts of an “Oosthuizen Bridge” were laid to rest.

The Worst

David Duval tore up Augusta National during his practice rounds leading up to the 70th Masters in 2006.  But after he duck-hooked his drive on No. 2 deep in the pines, you had to wonder if Duval himself wanted to duck under the ropes and just skip town.

Looking more like a weekend hacker than the former No. 1 player in the world, Duval needed six shots, including two penalty strokes just to reach the greenside bunker. By the time it was over, the result was a second-round, quintuple-bogey 10, the highest score ever on Pink Dogwood.

To his credit Duval turned back the clock with four birdies over a six-hole stretch later in the round. But the gallant effort was too little, too late. Duval finished his tournament 15-over par in one of the most bipolar days Augusta National has ever seen. And Duval remained an enigma, wrapped in a paradox, shrouded in Augusta pine.

No. 3: Flowering Peach — Par 4, 350 yards

Scwartzel Flowering Peach

The Best

Historically “Flowering Peach” has been more like a sour lemon when it comes to eagles surrendered. But in 2011, Charl Schwartzel became the only player in Masters history to eagle No. 3 en route to victory.

Schwartzel’s hole-out wedge from 114-yards set the tone for what followed. Schwartzel recorded the lowest final-round score of any Masters champion in two decades, and also became the first Masters champion to birdie the last-four holes on the final day.

The 75th Masters featured a Tiger Woods charge, a Rory McIlroy collapse and challenges by Jason Day and Adam Scott. But on this chaotic afternoon at Augusta, “Flowering Peach” was only sweet for Schwartzel.

The Worst

Jeff Maggert 2003 Masters Pete Pappas TheGreekGrind PGAPappas

It’s usually a good idea to “get something off your chest.” For Jeff Maggert in 2003, it wasn’t. Maggert felt the sting of golf’s cruel side when his second shot on No. 3 clipped the front lip of a fairway bunker, backfired off his chest, and fell back tauntingly almost to the same spot he’d just hit from.

After a two-stroke penalty was assessed, Maggert’s next shot flew over the green, followed by another shot that ran 18-feet past the hole. And just that quickly, Maggert and his 54-hole lead was done. Maggert was inconsolable after his triple-bogey seven on “Flowering Peach.” It was probably the main reason he didn’t become the 67th Masters champion.

“I’d like to play that hole over again,” Maggert said afterwards.  “I know that much.”

Golf, cruel? Really?

No. 4: Flowering Crabapple — Par 3, 240 yards

No. 4 Flowering Crabapple

The Best

Jeff Sluman is a jockey-size 5-foot 7-inches, 141 pounds, and has always been one of the smallest players on Tour. But in 1992 Sluman hit one of the biggest shots in Masters history, and became the only player to ever record a hole-in-one on Augusta’s formidable fourth hole.

In the first round of the 56th Masters, Sluman grabbed a 4-iron and struck his ball into swirling winds deceptive enough to complicate club selection.

“It looked pretty good when it left the club,” Sluman said.  “But you never dreamed it was going in.”

Sluman’s ball landed 20-feet short of the hole, slowly crawled uphill and barely fell into the cup. After Sluman’s ace, a fan in the crowd yelled out asking for the ball, and the good-natured Sluman obliged, tossing it into the gallery. The fan was his mom.

The Worst

You know the expression “you have to see it to believe it?” That probably sums up the bizarre sequence of shots Phil Mickelson hit on the fourth hole of the 76th Masters in 2012.  After Mickelson’s tee shot clanked off the grandstand and into Augusta’s wooded foliage, it went beyond “Phil being Phil.” It went “Lefty being Righty.”

Mickelson turned his wedge upside-down and played right-handed. On his first attempt, the ball dribbled out about a foot. Mickelson nearly axed himself in the leg on an awkward second attempt. And his third attempt landed in the same greenside bunker Mickelson was aiming for in the first place off the tee.

Mickelson’s bunker shot nearly dropped in, but the eventual triple-bogey six doomed any chance Mickelson had to win his fourth green jacket. Mickelson fell from one shot off the lead to five shots back. That goes to show no matter who you are or how well things are going, anything can happen at Augusta National.

No. 5: Magnolia — Par 4, 445 yards

The Best

Jack Nicklaus owns nearly every significant Masters record there is. Most wins, most runner-ups and most top-5 finishes all belong to Jack. And in 1995, Nicklaus became the only player in Masters history to eagle the same hole, twice, in the same tournament.

Eagle No. 1 came during the first round of the 59th Masters from 185 yards out. Nicklaus grabbed his 5-iron, fired at the pin and his ball found the hole on the fly.  Prior to that, Nicklaus hadn’t eagled “Magnolia” in 36 previous Masters appearances. But Nicklaus wasn’t done yet.

Lightning struck twice for Nicklaus in the third round when he pulled a 7-iron from 165 yards for his second eagle of the round. Nicklaus admitted afterwards he aimed for the middle of the green because of a difficult pin position, but his ball landed a few feet from the hole instead and rolled in. It’s good to be Jack.

The Worst

ANGC26580.jpg

Practice? What are we talking about, practice? Before there was Allen Iverson, there was Dow Finsterwald. And yes, Finsterwald was talking about practice.  Because sometimes practice makes perfect.  But other times it destroys your chance to become a Masters champion.

In the opening round of the 24th Masters in 1960, Finsterwald made a routine par on “Magnolia.”  He pulled his ball from the cup, dropped it back on the putting surface and hit it off the green in the direction of the sixth tee. It was the worst shot Finsterwald never had to take.

The next day Finsterwald was assessed a retroactive two-stroke penalty for what was deemed an illegal practice stroke. Finsterwald wasn’t disqualified since his practice stroke didn’t occur with the ball in play. But he finished one shot behind eventual winner Arnold Palmer, costing him the opportunity to play Palmer in an 18-hole playoff.

No. 6: Juniper — Par 3, 180 yards

Byron-Nelson-Ben-Hogan-1942-Masters-Pete-Pappas-TheGreekGrind-PGAPappas-511x600

The Best

The Open Championship hadn’t been played in three years, the U.S. Open was cancelled and the PGA Championship was postponed. The world was at war and a hero was needed. In a 1942 playoff at the ninth Masters, Byron Nelson obliged.

Nelson was visibly pale and exhausted, suffering from a severe stomach virus before the playoff began. Ben Hogan offered to postpone the playoff, but Nelson refused. Down three shots to Hogan to start No. 6, Nelson stuffed an iron close to the pin for birdie, setting off a stretch of golf that can only be called “cruel in perfection.”

Nelson went 6-under par over the next eight holes to hold off Hogan by one shot. Hogan called it the best stretch of golf he’d ever seen. Nelson’s “never give up” mentality gave the country something to rally around, and made Nelson one of the greatest Masters champions of all-time.

The Worst

Jose Maria Olazabal was one-shot off the lead in the second round of the 1991 Masters when his tee shot fell short of the green on No. 6.  It seemed harmless enough until Olazabal needed four more shots just to get his ball on the putting surface.

The green on “Juniper” is sloped downward to such degree, that players over the years have joked “an elephant must be buried beneath it.”

Olazabal’s first chip rolled back to his feet.  His second shot was a carbon copy.  Even his third shot rolled off the back edge.  Olazabal took a quadruple-bogey seven for the hole.  And his safari on No. 6 played a key role in finishing one stroke behind the 55th Masters champion Ian Woosnam.

No. 7: Pampas — Par 4, 450 yards

The Best

After Byron Nelson won the fourth Masters Tournament in 1937, the shot that had everyone talking was his opening tee shot on No. 7.  He drove the green. Nelson went on to win a second green jacket a few years later, but he’d never again reach the green in one at “Pampas.”

The birdie on No. 7 certainly contributed to Nelson’s championship, but just as importantly it highlighted the fact that something had to be done about the pint-sized, drive and pitch par-4 that only measured 340 yards.

A few years later, “Pampas” was lengthened to 365 yards. And changes in 2002 and 2006 brought No. 7 to its current 450 yards. Nelson is often credited for being “The Father of the Modern Golf Swing.” But he also might be credited for being the father of present-day 7th hole at Augusta National.

The Worst

Charles-Coody-1972-Masters-Pete-Pappas-TheGreekGrind-PGAPappas-442x600

Charles Coody had the reputation for being one of most disciplined players on Tour, and was the last player you’d expect to come unglued. But in the first round of the 36th Masters in 1972, that’s exactly what happened to the defending champion.

Coody just recorded an ace on No. 6, so he should have been relaxed. But Coody sprayed his drive right, then hooked his approach left. And hitting out of the greenside bunker turned into an episode of the “Twilight Zone.”

Coody nearly whiffed at his first attempt. He barely moved the ball on his second attempt. And Coody’s third attempt unbelievably also stayed in the sand. Coody needed a fourth bunker shot to get up and down for the highest score ever recorded on No. 7, a triple-bogey seven.

No. 8: Yellow Jasmine — Par 5, 570 yards

The Best

Bruce Devlin never won a Masters championship. But in the first round of the 31st Masters in 1967, he became only the second player to record a double-eagle in Masters history.

Devlin was dealing with painful blisters on both his feet that afternoon, and never really played himself into contention.  Devlin would later say it was the only good shot he hit all day. A 4-wood, 248 yards out, that hit the front of the green and tracked into the hole.

When Gene Sarazen was told of Devlin’s double-eagle, he said Devlin’s shot was harder than his own in 1935, because Devlin couldn’t even see the target he was shooting for. For the record, Devlin’s was also 13 yards longer.

The Worst

Jack 1970

Augusta National sinks its teeth into every player eventually: even the Masters foremost champion, Jack Nicklaus.  Nicklaus recorded his first triple-bogey during the second round of the 34th Masters in 1970.

Nicklaus was just three shots off the lead at the time, and had a clean look at getting on in two, but uncharacteristically hooked his approach shot into the woods short of the green. Making matters worse, Nicklaus couldn’t find his ball, forcing him to take a stroke and distance penalty.

Obviously frustrated by the turn of events, Nicklaus played his shot over, coming up short of the green again, and three-putted for a triple-bogey eight. Nicklaus played well enough over the final 46 holes to finish in the top-10, but his fourth green jacket would have to wait.

No. 9: Carolina Cherry — Par 4, 460 yards

Jack Nicklaus 1986 Masters Pete Pappas TheGreekGrind PGAPappas

The Best

What do you do if you’re playing the final round of a major in a tournament no one gives you any chance of winning, and you’re facing what can only be described as a must-make putt to keep any hope of winning alive? If you’re 46-year old Jack Nicklaus in 1986 at the 50th Masters, you crack a joke.

Jack Nicklaus stepped away from his 12-foot birdie opportunity on “Carolina Cherry” when he heard the crowd on No. 8 erupt for Tom Kite’s eagle pitch-in.  Nicklaus stepped away again when a second roar broke out from No. 8, this time for Seve Ballesteros’ eagle chip-in.

Before Nicklaus finally addressed his putt, he turned to the gallery nearest him and said, “Let’s see if we can make that same kind of noise here.”  Nicklaus’ putt hit the hole dead center, and set the tone for a back-nine charge that would bring Nicklaus the loudest canon fire roar of all: the roar of winning his sixth green jacket and 18th career major.

The Worst

Lanny Wadkins has always been supremely confident in his abilities on the golf course. But there’s a fine line between confidence and carelessness, and Wadkins crossed that line during the second round of the 55th Masters in 1991 when he missed the shortest putt in Masters history.

Wadkins had just missed a four-foot putt for par on “Carolina Cherry” and was left with a tap-in.  Not a pressure putt, not a knee-knocker, but a gimme just inches from the cup. So naturally Wadkins decided to putt… backhanded.

Wadkins completely missed the cup, of course. And adding insult to injury, his ball rolled four feet past the hole, leaving him with the exact same putt he had for par just moments earlier.

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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

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Pete McGill

    Dec 16, 2018 at 3:22 am

    I remember Watkins’ putt like it was yesterday. Yikes!

  2. Lawrence Williams

    Apr 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Well done my man, well done!

  3. DavidI

    Apr 9, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Great read, really nicely written!

  4. cheeks

    Apr 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Fantastic piece, thank you Pete! Really enjoyed this, looking forward to the Back 9.

  5. Floor-is

    Apr 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    What the hell is a double eagle? You’re a golf website guys, stop making up (stupid) names for things we already have names for. Was it an albatross? Yes it was!

    • Pete

      Apr 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Floor, the Masters Tournament calls it a double-eagle, so the company’s pretty good. I’d have agreed with you though if I called it a triple-ace.

      • Ian

        Apr 9, 2014 at 5:32 am

        Eagle is two under par isn’t it (On a par 4 or 5)? So a double eagle would be double two under par.

        • Ian

          Apr 9, 2014 at 5:45 am

          And while we’re recognizing larger birds for fewer strokes (on par 4’s and 5’s)., I’d officilly like to petition the PGA of America to consider naming a hole in one (again on a par 4 or 5) a Dodo or an Ostrich…

        • Floor-is

          Apr 10, 2014 at 3:24 am

          And that’s exactly what is the problem! A double eagle isn’t two times an eagle (2x two under for the hole) it’s an eagle plus a birdie (3 under for a single hole). So in that logic it would be called one-and-a-half eagle. Let’s just keep calling it an Albatross.

          I’ve shot one, once by the way.

  6. Martin

    Apr 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Great article.

  7. Keith

    Apr 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I’m not sure where the +19 par for Duval is coming from. He was +15 (84,75) to miss the cut that year. He actually doubled #1 on Fri right before he made the 10 on #2, so he was +7 after two holes and came back to shoot 75.

    • Pete

      Apr 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Nice catch Keith. Duval was 19-over after the debacle on No.2, and that six-hole stretch later in the round got him to 15-over.

  8. jabrch

    Apr 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Great article Pete!!!! Awesome read!

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 1

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Of all the clubs in our bags, wedges are almost always the simplest in construction and, therefore, the easiest to analyze what might make one work differently from another if you know what to look for.

Wedges are a lot less mysterious than drivers, of course, as the major brands are working with a lot of “pixie dust” inside these modern marvels. That’s carrying over more to irons now, with so many new models featuring internal multi-material technologies, and almost all of them having a “badge” or insert in the back to allow more complex graphics while hiding the actual distribution of mass.

But when it comes to wedges, most on the market today are still single pieces of molded steel, either cast or forged into that shape. So, if you look closely at where the mass is distributed, it’s pretty clear how that wedge is going to perform.

To start, because of their wider soles, the majority of the mass of almost any wedge is along the bottom third of the clubhead. So, the best wedge shots are always those hit between the 2nd and 5th grooves so that more mass is directly behind that impact. Elite tour professionals practice incessantly to learn to do that consistently, wearing out a spot about the size of a penny right there. If impact moves higher than that, the face is dramatically thinner, so smash factor is compromised significantly, which reduces the overall distance the ball will fly.

Every one of us, tour players included, knows that maddening shot that we feel a bit high on the face and it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not your fault.

If your wedges show a wear pattern the size of a silver dollar, and centered above the 3rd or 4th groove, you are not getting anywhere near the same performance from shot to shot. Robot testing proves impact even two to three grooves higher in the face can cause distance loss of up to 35 to 55 feet with modern ‘tour design’ wedges.

In addition, as impact moves above the center of mass, the golf club principle of gear effect causes the ball to fly higher with less spin. Think of modern drivers for a minute. The “holy grail” of driving is high launch and low spin, and the driver engineers are pulling out all stops to get the mass as low in the clubhead as possible to optimize this combination.

Where is all the mass in your wedges? Low. So, disregarding the higher lofts, wedges “want” to launch the ball high with low spin – exactly the opposite of what good wedge play requires penetrating ball flight with high spin.

While almost all major brand wedges have begun putting a tiny bit more thickness in the top portion of the clubhead, conventional and modern ‘tour design’ wedges perform pretty much like they always have. Elite players learn to hit those crisp, spinny penetrating wedge shots by spending lots of practice time learning to consistently make contact low in the face.

So, what about grooves and face texture?

Grooves on any club can only do so much, and no one has any material advantage here. The USGA tightly defines what we manufacturers can do with grooves and face texture, and modern manufacturing techniques allow all of us to push those limits ever closer. And we all do. End of story.

Then there’s the topic of bounce and grinds, the most complex and confusing part of the wedge formula. Many top brands offer a complex array of sole configurations, all of them admittedly specialized to a particular kind of lie or turf conditions, and/or a particular divot pattern.

But if you don’t play the same turf all the time, and make the same size divot on every swing, how would you ever figure this out?

The only way is to take any wedge you are considering and play it a few rounds, hitting all the shots you face and observing the results. There’s simply no other way.

So, hopefully this will inspire a lively conversation in our comments section, and I’ll chime in to answer any questions you might have.

And next week, I’ll dive into the rest of the wedge formula. Yes, shafts, grips and specifications are essential, too.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Amazing Session with Performance Coach Savannah Meyer-Clement

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In this week’s episode, we spent some time with performance coach Savannah Meyer-Clement who provides many useful insights that you’ll be able to implement on the golf course.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Heritage betting preview: Patrick Cantlay ready to get back inside winner’s circle

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Just a two-hour drive from Augusta National, the PGA TOUR heads to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise and Harbour Town is one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on the PGA TOUR.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a par-71 that measures 7,121 yards and features Bermuda grass greens. A Pete Dye design, the course is heavily tree lined and features small greens and many dog legs, protecting it from “bomb-and-gauge” type golfers.

The field is loaded this week with 69 golfers with no cut. Last year was quite possibly the best field in RBC Heritage history and the event this week is yet another designated event, meaning there is a $20 million prize pool.

Most of the big names on the PGA Tour will be in attendance this week with the exceptions of Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland. Additionally, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner have been granted sponsors exemptions. 

Past Winners at Harbour Town

  • 2023: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
  • 2022: Jordan Spieth (-13)
  • 2021: Stewart Cink (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
  • 2019: CT Pan (-12)
  • 2018: Sotoshi Kodaira (-12)
  • 2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
  • 2016: Branden Grace (-9)
  • 2015: Jim Furyk (-18)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Harbour Town

Let’s take a look at key metrics for Harbour Town Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is exceedingly important this week. The greens at Harbour Town are about half the size of PGA TOUR average and feature the second-smallest greens on the tour. Typical of a Pete Dye design, golfers will pay the price for missed greens.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.27)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.27)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.16)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+0.95)
  5. Cameron Young (+0.93)

Good Drive %

The fairways at Harbour Town are tree lined and feature many dog legs. Bombers tend to struggle at the course because it forces layups and doesn’t allow long drivers to overpower it. Accuracy is far more important than power.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (88.8%)
  2. Shane Lowry (+87.2%)
  3. Akshay Bhatia (+86.0%)
  4. Si Woo Kim (+85.8%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+85.1%)

Strokes Gained: Total at Pete Dye Designs

Pete Dye specialists tend to play very well at Harbour Town. Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are all Pete Dye specialists who have had great success here. It is likely we see some more specialists near the top of the leaderboard this week.

SG: TOT Pete Dye per round over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.27)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.24)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+2.11)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.89)
  5. Sungjae Im (+1.58)

4. Strokes Gained: Short Game (Bermuda)

Strokes Gained: Short Game factors in both around the green and putting. With many green-side bunkers and tricky green complexes, both statistics will be important. Past winners — such as Jim Furyk, Wes Bryan and Webb Simpson — highlight how crucial the short game skill set is around Harbour Town.

SG: SG Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1.11)
  2. Taylor Moore (+1.02)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+0.98)
  4. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.86)
  5. Andrew Putnam (+0.83)

5. Greens in Regulation %

The recipe for success at Harbour Town Golf Links is hitting fairways and greens. Missing either will prove to be consequential — golfers must be in total control of the ball to win.

Greens in Regulation % over past 24 rounds:

  1. Brice Garnett (+75.0%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+69.9%)
  3. Corey Conners (+69.0%)
  4. Shane Lowry (+68.3%)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+67.6%)

6. Course History

Harbour Town is a course where players who have strong past results at the course always tend to pop up. 

Course History over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.34)
  2. Cam Davis (+2.05)
  3. J.T. Poston (+1.69)
  4. Justin Rose (+1.68)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.59)

The RBC Heritage Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drives (20%), SG: SG (14%), SG: Pete Dye (14%), GIR (14%), and Course History (14%)

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Scottie Scheffler
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners 
  6. Wyndham Clark
  7. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  8. Matt Fitzpatrick
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Ludvig Aberg 

2024 RBC Heritage Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2000 (FanDuel)

With the exception of Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour has yet to have any of their star players show peak form during the 2024 season. Last week, Patrick Cantlay, who I believe is a top-5 players on the PGA Tour, took one step closer to regaining the form that’s helped him win eight events on Tour since 2017.

Cantlay limped into the Masters in poor form, but figured it out at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 20th and ranking 17th for the week in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The former FedEx Cup champion will now head to one of his favorite golf courses in Harbour Town, where he’s had immaculate results over the years. In his six trips to the course, he’s only finished worse than 7th one time. The other finishes include three third places (2017, 2019, 2023) and one runner-up finish (2022). In his past 36 rounds at Harbour Town, Cantlay ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Total per round at the course by a wide margin (+2.36).

Cantlay is winless since the 2022 BMW Championship, which is far too long for a player of his caliber. With signs pointing to the 32-year-old returning to form, a “signature event” at Harbour Town is just what he needs to get back on the winning track.

Tommy Fleetwood +3000 (FanDuel)

I truly believe Tommy Fleetwood will figure out a way to win on American soil in 2024. It’s certainly been a bugaboo for him throughout his career, but he is simply too talented to go another season without winning a PGA Tour event.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, Fleetwood made a Sunday charge and ended up finishing T3 in the event, which was his best ever finish at The Masters. For the week, the Englishman ranked 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is a perfect layout for Fleetwood, and he’s had relative success at this Pete Dye design in the past.  In his four trips to the course, he’s finished inside of the top 25 three times, with his best finish, T10, coming in 2022. The course is pretty short and can’t be overpowered, which gives an advantage to more accurate players such as Fleetwood. Tommy ranks 8th in the field in Good Drive % and should be able to plot his way along this golf course.

The win is coming for Tommy lad. I believe there’s a chance this treasure of a golf course may be the perfect one for him to finally break through on Tour.

Cameron Young +3300 (FanDuel)

Cameron Young had a solid Masters Tournament last week, which is exactly what I’m looking for in players who I anticipate playing well this week at the RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 9th, but never felt the pressure of contending in the event. For the week, Young ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Despite being one of the longest players off the tee on the PGA Tour, Young has actually played some really good golf on shorter tracks. He finished T3 at Harbour Town in 2023 and ranks 20th in the field in Good Drive% and 16th in Greens in Regulation in his past 24 rounds. He also has strong finishes at other shorter courses that can take driver out of a players hand such as Copperhead and PGA National.

Young is simply one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2024, and I strongly believe has what it takes to win a PGA Tour event in the very near future.

Corey Conners +5500 (FanDuel)

Corey Conners has had a disappointing year thus far on the PGA Tour, but absolutely loves Harbour Town.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, the Canadian finished T30 but ranked 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, Conners ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 3rd in Greens in Regulation % and 24th in Good Drive %.

In Conners’ last four trips to Harbour Town, his worst finish was T31, last season. He finished T4 in 2021, T12 in 2022 and ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Total at the course over his past 36 rounds.

Conners hasn’t been contending, but his recent finishes have been encouraging as he has finished in the top-25 in each of his past three starts prior to The Masters, including an impressive T13 at The PLAYERS. His recent improvement in ball striking as well as his suitability for Harbour Town makes Conners a high upside bet this week.

Shane Lowry (+7500) (FanDuel)

When these odds were posted after Lowry was announced in the field, I have to admit I was pretty stunned. Despite not offering much win equity on the PGA Tour over the last handful of years, Shane Lowry is still a top caliber player who has the ability to rise to the top of a signature event.

Lowry struggled to score at The Masters last week, but he actually hit the ball really well. The Irishman ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach on the week and 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. As usual, it was the putter that let him down, as he ranked 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is most definitely one of Lowry’s favorite courses on the PGA Tour. In his six starts there, he’s finished in the top 10 three times, including third twice. Lowry is sensational at Pete Dye designs and ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds on Dye tracks. 

Lowry is perfect for Harbour Town. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 2nd in Good Drive% and 5th in Green in Regulation %. If he figures it out on the greens, Shane could have his first win in America since 2015.

Lucas Glover +12000 (FanDuel)

This is one of my weekly “bet the number” plays as I strongly believe the odds are just too long for a player of Glover’s caliber. The odds have been too long on Glover for a few weeks now, but this is the first event that I can get behind the veteran being able to actually contend at. 

Glover is quietly playing good golf and returning to the form he had after the understandable regression after his two massive victories at the end of 2023. He finished T20 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta National. For the week, Lucas ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 20th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Over his past 24 rounds, Glover ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Good Drive %. Harbour Town is a short course that the 44-year-old will be able to keep up with the top players on Tour off the tee. He’s played the course more than 20 times, with mixed results. His best finishes at Harbour Town include a T7 in 2008, but recently has a finish of T21 in 2020.

Glover has proven he can contend with the stars of the Tour on any given week, and this number is flat out disrespectful.

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