Forelinx Fantasy Golf Preview ⏤ RBC Heritage

Fantasy Golf

Harbour Town1

After the stress and pressure of the first major of the year last week, the PGA TOUR will head down to the low country for a far different atmosphere at this week's RBC Heritage Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, SC. This little Pete Dye beauty is just a short hop a few hours up the road from Augusta National, so it has drawn a pretty solid field given that the tournament comes a week after a major championship. The relaxed vibe is loved by many of the players and the beautiful setting on the coast of Hilton Head Island contributes significantly to the tournament's appeal as well.

Webb Simpson will be defending the title he won here in the summer of 2020. The tournament was among the first after the PGA TOUR rebooted the season post-COVID and Simpson came home in 30 on the back nine for a final round total of 64 that edged out Abraham Ancer by just a shot. Simpson joined a list of past champions that include Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Nick Price, Payne Stewart, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

The Field and the Favorites

Dustin Johnson predictably enters the week as the tournament favorite at +1200, but the second favorite is the defending champion Webb Simpson at +1400. Simpson has had a ton of success at this golf course with not only the win here last year but also a runner-up finish to Graeme McDowell back in 2013. His fairways and greens game suits this golf course perfectly and if he can get his putter cooking he should be a factor this week. DJ has played well here too, but this is the rare golf course where his length is not a particularly valuable asset.

Collin Morikawa (+1800) and Patrick Cantlay (+1800) come into the week tied as the third-favorites to win, but the latter failed to show much form at last week's Masters Tournament. Cantlay missed the cut by a wide margin at Augusta National and missed the cut at the Players Championship as well. His failure to make the weekend at either of these two events that are seemingly right up his alley leads us to believe he should be a fade for fantasy players this week. Morikawa offers slightly more promise after a T15 finish at Augusta National and his iron play should be especially valuable at a course with greens as small as those at Harbour Town.

There's a pretty sizable drop off among to the next tier of four players that sit as tied for fifth-favorites at +2500. Will Zalatoris is deservingly among that group after his impressive runner-up finish in last week's Masters and we suspect he's going to find himself near the top of the board for a fair bit of the foreseeable future. The days of getting value on Zalatoris may be over, but he nevertheless may well still be a good pick at +2500. He's joined at that number by Daniel Berger (who finished T3 here last year), Matt Fitzpatrick (who finished T14 last year) and Tyrrell Hatton (who finished T3 as well). All four of the players among the +2500 crowd are fair picks who have both shown form and golf course fit.

One notable unexpected absence is Bryson Dechambeau who usually likes to compete in this event. His late withdrawal came as somewhat of a surprise as he was expected to play, but after a rough week at Augusta National it sounds like Bryson needs the week off. He struggled mightily at a course he's expected to dominate and we think he'll be using the week to recharge and reboot and get ready for the summer.

The Golf Course

Harbour Town is a unique challenge as compared to most of the host sites we are used to seeing on the PGA TOUR. The type of player who will succeed at this Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus collaboration is different than the style you'd find most successful during the overwhelming majority of professional events. Length is relatively meaningless and driving accuracy goes from being among the least important stats to among the most important ones. The trees that line nearly all of the fairways will be unforgiving to any player who can't place the ball from the tee and the greens are among the smallest on the PGA TOUR.

Those small greens will make Strokes Gained: Approach probably the best indicator of success here at Harbour Town. The size of the greens require players to have a ton of control over their distance and misses by just a few yards are likely to miss the greens entirely rather than just leave longer birdie putts that you might see at a more traditional PGA TOUR setup. Accordingly, short game will also be a key to success here as the short golf course will yield birdies and render bogies off missed greens even more costly. Last year's winning score was 25-under par and we don't see any reason why 20-under or better won't end up the winner this week as well.