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Fantasy Cheat Sheet: RBC Heritage

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While Augusta National has its own dimension of pristine course conditions, few tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule can match the experience on display at this week’s tournament course designed by Pete Dye with assistance from Jack Nicklaus.

From the way Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C., combines a stunning natural landscape of swamps and seascapes with the precision required to navigate tight fairways and tiny greens, the RBC Heritage invitational tournament is the perfect way to unwind after a week of intense scrutiny at The Masters.

While the iconic lighthouse on Calibogue Sound, seen behind a picturesque 18th hole, still steers ships away from danger, it also acts as our personal beacon that not all is lost after a rocky major tournament for many gamers expecting the chalk to perform well.

Graeme McDowell returns to defend his title in the same manner as last year, following a missed cut. Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar are also in the field after near misses chasing Bubba Watson at Augusta. Take a deep breath, inhale the salty sea air and exhale your fantasy aggravations of last week. It’s Risk, Reward, Ruin.

RISK

Jordan Spieth Fantasy RBC Heritage 2014

I mentioned it briefly, but Harbour Town is a tight track. It’s one of the reasons two-time champion Boo Weekley has done so well, because off the tee he will put it in the fairway. That will be the key for this week because you don’t need to be long, which does allow players who can’t compete with say Torrey Pines’ length to compete here. And the greens are also small, so being in the proper position to attack pins this week will be what separates front runners from also-rans. Here’s a couple risky propositions, for one reason or another.

Jordan Spieth

The beauty of the game of golf and competing on the PGA Tour is that at any time anyone can win. Anyone. A golfer could miss four straight cuts, then switch putters and it be just enough of the right feel to put together four sub-par rounds. Spieth is a huge talent, and no one knew how he’d do hitting Augusta for the first time. He showed he has an ability to read greens and make clutch shots. He also showed how a round can go south quickly with just a couple errant shots. That’s the difference. Knock him for being a Ruin last week, but the logic was sound to pick veterans who had navigated the pitfalls of The Masters. Now, Spieth must shake off any bad feelings lingering from last week, and if he does, he’ll be a strong bet on a course he finished T9 at last year in his debut.

Boo Weekley 

Boo Weekley 2014 RBC Heritage Fantasy

You already heard how Weekley is a two-time champion (2007 and 2008) here. He’s made 9 of 11 cuts this year, but unfortunately those two MCs came in his last two tournaments. But getting a reprieve at arguably his favorite course should serve him well. Not only did he nail down his career’s first two wins at Harbour Town in his first two tries on the course, but he’s 5 for 5 since then with T13, T12 and T6 finishes mixed in.

Aaron Baddeley

The winner of this tournament in 2006, Baddeley dealt with a lot of struggles last year and still made the cut. In fact, he’s 6 for 7 since his win with T10, T2 and T14 results and a couple tallies just outside the top 20. He’s not at his strongest form as in year’s past, but he also hasn’t been horrible either. And all you need is one week to turn it all around. It’s a confidence thing for him.

Zach Johnson

Slotting Johnson as a risk isn’t a slight to 2012’s runner-up to winner Carl Pettersson, it’s just that he’s not overwhelmed consistently through the years here. After a T6 at the Valero Texas Open, Johnson followed that up with a missed cut at the Masters after an opening-round 78, a round which incurred a penalty stroke. But that is still the only MC on his season, which includes a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and a T3 at the Humana Challenge. His game fits well for Harbour Town, where he is 7 for 9 with missed cuts in 2011 and 2008. In addition to solo second, finished solo sixth the year he won The Masters in ’07.

Davis Love III

I could have opted for two-time champion Stewart Cink, who is coming off a T14 finish at The Masters, but instead I’ll go with five-time champion Love III. You could make an argument that he’s past his prime, but then I watch Fred Couples, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Cink do what they did at Augusta and I believe Love III, who is still only 50 years old, can contend on a course he’s utterly dominated. Would you believe he’s played 12 Tour events already this season and has just three missed cuts? He’ll be teeing it up in Hilton Head for the first time since 2011, which happens to be his only missed cut in eight starts since his last win in ’03. He also had a T2 in ’05. This may be a little bit of a flyer, but it is a good one.

REWARD

Luke Donald RBC Heritage Fantasy 2014

I have no control over what a golfer does during his tournament. Maybe that surprises you that I can’t tell Phil Mickelson to not hit driver so often or tell Adam Scott to pick up a crucial par save or tell Dustin Johnson to shut down Instagram for a second. What I mean is this, I try to present the cream of the crop. To use a baseball analogy, if a pitcher has five straight wins and is starting against the worst hitting team in the league, he’s a good bet for a win, but that doesn’t also mean he may not lose his location or velocity that night and get shelled. The same is true for golf. These are my best prognostications for reward this week and I hope they hold true, for you and for me.

Luke Donald

Not a good fit at Augusta or any number of lengthy courses, Donald loves the 7,101 yards of course this par-71 has to offer. To highlight the difficulty of The Masters, Donald nearly made the cut even after shooting a first-day 79, which included a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. It was his first MC of the year after two top-10s in his seven starts. Donald’s last four starts at the RBC Heritage is a welcoming sight: T3, T37, P2, T3. He should have also have quite a few starts available to use at a point where you may want to withhold using others.

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker RBC Heritage 2014 Fantasy

Beating Donald in that 2011 playoff was Snedeker, who also had his woes at Augusta, needing five putts from 3 feet to finish off the difficult and slick par-3 fourth hole and penalizing himself a stroke for a ball that moved as he was about to pitch on the 13th. Harbour Town will read like a dream by comparison, a venue where’s 5 for 7 and has made his last three cuts. Snedeker has been better statistically than he is right now, but has been slowly returning to the form he was at last year that saw him as one of the hottest players on Tour.

Jim Furyk

Coming off a T14 at The Masters, Furyk enters a tournament he won in 2010 and has finished second at twice. He also has three more top-10s at Harbour Town and has amassed three top-10s in eight starts this year, including a T6 recently at the Valero Texas Open. Furyk loves to hit irons off the tee, which will serve him well this week yet again. He’s 19th on Tour in driving accuracy and is first in GIR from 75-to-100 yards. I love that combination this week.

Matt Kuchar

Matt Kuchar 2014 Fantasy RBC Heritage

It’s hard to say that Kuchar will win this week, because finding a way to win has been his problem. You can’t knock his consistency, however, not with the way he’s just nailed down three consecutive top-5s and 10 top-10s already this year. Anytime a golfer is playing that consistent and they have the talent Kuchar has, a win could be coming at any moment. His only missed cut came in his debut year of ’03. Since then, he’s 9 for 9 with two top-10s. In some ways, he’s been lackluster his last five years, which means you could easily swap him out for Weekley in some leagues if you’d like to save starts.

Hunter Mahan

Mahan sits under the radar this week, which is good for those gamers that need to rest someone who may be eating up a bunch of starts. What I like is his statistical consistency. He’s been average to good in driving distance, accuracy and GIR and really good in strokes gained putting. He’s made every cut this year in nine starts and has four top-10s, and is coming off a T26 at Augusta where he was steady all four rounds. Not much of history here with one made cut and a missed secondary cut last year, but his iron work is impeccable and should put him in position to attack the greens he’s been so good on.

RUIN

I feel like I must say again, I’m not going to consistently name off the very sub-par of the PGA Tour when it comes to ruin. That doesn’t help you because you should already see it with your own eyes. I missed on Spieth last week, but absolutely nailed it on Angel Cabrera. I can live with that because one was a true unknown, but El Gato gave the appearance of being everything you wanted in a golfer teeing it up at Augusta. So here we are now at Harbour Town and I’m going to take the same approach.

Ernie Els

A couple weeks ago I pointed out Els’ inaccuracies off the tee. He’s always been a big hitter with a long swing, and that doesn’t work as well with iron play. If you miss the short grass here, there are waste areas, trees and alligators to contend with. In addition, his GIR has not been extremely bad. Once upon a time, he was a sure thing here with consecutive T10, T3, T7 and solo second (’07) finishes, but since he’s missed four of five cuts, including his last three.

Bill Haas

If there’s one pick that could go awry, it’s this one. Haas is 13 for 13 this year, has three top-10s and is coming off a T20 at The Masters, which he led after one round. He also has been strong at hitting GIR and has a similar statistical makeup to that of Mahan. He’s made 4 of 9 cuts at the RBC Heritage and his best finish was a T24 last year. If I had to guess, I’d say he makes the cut, but I’m not convinced he can put together the four clean rounds he’ll need to finish near the top. And for a golfer of his caliber, I feel there are better plays this week than him that appear better suited to bolster your points.

Chris Kirk

Another with a perfect slate this year, Kirk is 14 for 14 with a win and a solo second on his 2014 resume. He even finished T20 at The Masters. But he has a tendency to mix in a bad round, especially on day one, which is disaster on this course, because someone will inevitably shoot a good score and he’ll slide down into the purgatory of middling results. Kirk tied for 30th last year and missed the cut in the previous two years.

Lucas Glover

Lucas Glover 2014 RBC Heritage Fantasy

A South Carolina kid with a major title under his belt, Glover has been struggling through this season, having missed the cut in 10 of 15 starts and pulling in just one top-25. He managed to make the cut at Augusta despite an opening-round 75. Don’t be fooled by the T16, T12 and T7 (’08) finishes in his past. He’s missed three of his last four cuts at Harbour Town and has been struggling mightily with the putter.

Charles Howell III

Rested after missing his hometown tournament, Augusta native Howell III will play the RBC Heritage with a missed cut at the Shell Houston Open as our last reminder of his play, not the six top-10s he had put up during the early part of the year. He’s done well to hit GIR, sitting at fifth on Tour, but he’s at the bottom of driving accuracy. His results look eerily similar to that of last year when he entered in solid form and missed the cut. He really hasn’t been all that bad here, having made 5 of 8 cuts, but he’s missed two cuts in the last three years. This again comes down to a few better options, especially in Yahoo group A.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @bricmiller if you want to discuss the RBC Heritage or any of a number of fantasy inquiries, including sleeper picks. Good luck!

This week’s picks

Yahoo!

Group A: B. Snedeker (S), L. Donald

Group B: J. Furyk (S), H. Mahan (S), Z. Johnson, J. Spieth

Group C: G. McDowell (S), B. Weekley

(Last week: 130 points; Spring segment: 319; Spring rank: 9,792; Season points: 2,312; Full Season rank: 1,433 – 98th percentile)

PGATour.com

B. Weekley, J. Furyk, B. Snedeker, G. McDowell

(Last week: 132 points; Season: 4,041; Rank: 4,067)

Golf Channel

Group 1: B. Snedeker

Group 2: H. Mahan

Group 3: P. Casey

Group 4: D. Love III

(Last week: $449,500; Season: $7,994,689; Mulligan: $28,666; Rank: 7,781 of 38,293)

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Brian Miller is a sports writer of over eight years and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Miami Herald and Tallahassee Democrat. He's a fantasy golf nut and his golf novel will be published in spring 2014. You may find him on Twitter @bricmiller.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: golf channels blog post | golf channels

  2. billy

    Apr 16, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Don’t sweat it Brian, Anyone who has played Fantasy Golf knows it is the hardest of all sports to guess at and we all know why…Its the same thing that most Golfers enjoy about the game.

    One player & a ball

    There is no team to pick him up & no Coach to talk him up on the track. To pick the one guy out of the field who has a clear head,feels good & has his swing tight is simply a crap shoot.

    • Brian Miller

      Apr 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Love how you voiced that. Thanks for reading.

  3. Pingback: RBC Heritage Fantasy Golf Picks | Fantasy Sports Locker Room

  4. Mark

    Apr 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    How can you not mention Carl Petterson?

    • Sharkhark

      Apr 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      You missed Spieth completely last week saying despite rock solid stats to skip him.. Passed on Bubba… I’m not meaning to trash ya… But last week had I gone with who u didn’t like and skipped Phil and Zach u did like… I would’ve won my pool.
      This week I’m going to try picking your risks and skip your faves.
      Let’s give that a shot.

      • Brian Miller

        Apr 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm

        As for Sharkhark, I’m happy to be your fantasy whipping boy. I wish I could nail down every single pick week after week, but if I could, I’d be in Vegas, not writing a (free) column. Maybe your reversal of strategy will work, but from week to week, I feel I come out consistently ahead. Maybe I’m the Matt Kuchar of fantasy. I like sitting 98th percentile and winning segments and overall titles. I can handle getting one week wrong now and again.

    • Brian Miller

      Apr 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      I gave Pettersson a mention, but just as a returning champ. Out of 132 golfers, only 15 made this listing. If he’s not mentioned, he just didn’t make the cut. I’m using Graeme McDowell this week and nearly used Charl Schwartzel in Yahoo c. All good golfers, just didn’t have a spot for them.

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