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Sunday, April 12, 2015

RBC Heritage - Preview

With the 2015 Masters winding to an end, the PGA TOUR readies for the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links. While there is no doubt that a trip to Augusta National Golf Links is the equivalent to adult Disney World for golf fans, Harbour Town is more like a trip to a familiar bar with your buddies. It's laid back, nobody freaks out if a cell phone comes out of a pocket, it might not be completely quiet on every shot, and the list goes on. 

Harbour Town is one of the old gems on the PGA TOUR. It's a par 71 that stretches out to a mere 7,101 yards and including three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. One of the par 5s is reachable by the entire field and another is essentially a three-shot hole due to the angles of the hole. 

Traditionally, two types of players show up on leaderboards at the Heritage. Excellent ball-strikers and elite putters. Harbour Town is a very tight layout and offers very small greens. That means you either need to find those greens in regulation as often as possible, or you need to be able to putt and scramble. Here is a list of winners and runners-up since 2005.
  • 2005 - Winner: Peter Lonard (7-under 277) over Billy Andrade, Darren Clarke, Jim Furyk and Davis Love III (279)
  • 2006 - Winner: Aaron Baddeley (269) over Jim Furyk (270)
  • 2007 - Winner: Boo Weekley (270) over Ernie Els (271)
  • 2008 - Winner: Boo Weekley (269) over Aaron Baddeley and Anthony Kim (272)
  • 2009 - Winner: Brian Gay (264) over Briny Baird and Luke Donald (274)
  • 2010 - Winner: Jim Furyk (271) over Brian Davis in a playoff
  • 2011 - Winner: Brandt Snedeker (272) over Luke Donald in a playoff
  • 2012 - Winner: Carl Pettersson (270) over Zach Johnson (275)
  • 2013 - Winner: Graeme McDowell (275) over Webb Simpson in a playoff
  • 2014 - Winner: Matt Kuchar (273) over Luke Donald (274)

One other thing that stands out about that list is the quality of players included. 

Because of the two very different types of players that are identified at Harbour Town, a stats breakdown gets tricky. It would seem that strokes gained: tee-to-green would be a big one this week if for no other reason than there aren't that many big putts to be made this week. Scrambling matters because there are so many missed GIR due to the small size of the greens. That also brings proximity into play. While SGP should be less of a factor, converting one putts is a pretty big deal. Because of that, I'll take a look at one-putt percentage. 

We will return later in the week with this week's power ranking and one-and-done. 

Until then, happy research!

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