Picking a winner on the PGA Tour any given week is a tricky proposition, but even more so at the RBC Heritage, where the margin for error is razor-thin.
It takes someone who is on top of all aspects of his game to win at Harbour Town, where it’s not always good enough to simply keep the ball in the fairway – you have to hit the right spots in the fairway to have a clear shot at the green. And those greens? Tiny by today’s PGA Tour standards, so you better be dialed in with the irons and able to scramble when you miss the putting surface.
There’s a temptation to lean toward someone coming off a strong finish at the Masters, but the stress of contending at Augusta can be difficult to compartmentalize with such a quick turnaround, which is why Heritage champs often come out of nowhere. Not many people had Wesley Bryan at the top of their list last April.
So it’s no easy task to identify the favorites, but we’ll give it a whirl. Here’s a look at our “10 WHO CAN WIN” the tartan jacket this weekend.
• Dustin Johnson: The world’s No. 1 player and a Palmetto State native, Johnson hasn’t played the Heritage since 2009. Pete Dye’s tight, tree-lined gem doesn’t necessarily suit his game, but Johnson has the kind of talent to win anywhere, and if he’s in contention on the weekend, the home crowd will get behind him.
• Luke Donald: Harbour Town’s version of Susan Lucci, Donald has finished in the top three here an incredible seven times without winning, including runner-up finishes the past two years and three of the past four. Don’t cry for Donald, though – he can buy plenty of tartan jackets with the $3.765 million he has earned playing the Heritage.
• Brian Harman: Another player who has local ties, Harman is a Savannah native and former Players Amateur champion who gets big-time crowd support at Harbour Town. He plays well here, too, with top-10 finishes in 2014 and 2017, and is off to a great start this season.
• Cameron Smith: The 24-year-old Australian has made 10 cuts in 11 events this season, including eight top-25s and five top-10s. He tied for fifth at the Masters and left Augusta on a high note after a final-round 66. Harbour Town seems to suit him, too, as he’s tied for 15th and tied for 29th in two starts here.
• Patrick Cantlay: One of the PGA Tour’s young guns, the 25-year-old Cantlay earned his first PGA Tour win last fall and is off to a great start this season. Oh, and he tied for third here last year in his first start at Harbour Town.
• William McGirt: McGirt is a Carolina guy – born and raised in North Carolina before playing at Wofford – who always seems to feel at home at Harbour Town. He has three top-10 finishes here in the past four years, including a tie for third in 2017, when he carded four rounds in the 60s.
• Brian Gay: Gay still holds the tournament records for 72-hole score and margin of victory from his blitzing of the field in 2009. After several lackluster starts here since, he tied for sixth last year.
• Kevin Kisner: The Aiken native and former University of Georgia standout nearly beat Wesley Bryan to the punch in 2015, when he was on track to become the first Palmetto State native to win at Harbour Town until losing a playoff with Jim Furyk. He proved his strong play here wasn’t a one-off with a tie for 11th last year.
• Matt Kuchar: One of the most consistent players on tour over the past decade, Kuchar seems to have figured out Harbour Town. The 2014 Heritage champ had his streak of three straight top-10 finishes here snapped last year … when he tied for 11th.
• Patton Kizzire: Not exactly a household name, but the 32-year-old former Auburn star comes in ranked higher on the PGA Tour money list than anyone else in the field. He has two wins this season – one during the Fall Series and one at the Sony Open in January – and he’s shot par or better in five of his eight rounds at Harbour Town.
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