The 51st edition of the RBC Heritage tees off this week at picturesque Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will headline one of its strongest field in recent memory, which includes 15 additional players from the top 35 of the Official World Golf Rankings. In all, 132 golfers will vie for the tournament’s signature plaid jacket, along with a first-place check totaling $1.242 million.
After the relatively wide-open spaces of Augusta National, players this week will be tested by one of the tightest designs on the PGA Tour – the Pete Dye-masterpiece of Harbour Town Golf Links.
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Here’s more on what to expect at this year’s RBC Heritage.
Tournament: RBC Heritage
Dates: April 18-21, 2019
Where: Hilton Head Island, SC
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
Distance: Par 71, 7099 yards
Architect: Pete Dye
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,206,000
Defending Champion: Satoshi Kodaira
Marquee Players: Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Marc Leishman, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Branden Grace, Cameron Smith, Ian Poulter, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Jim Furyk, Si Woo Kim, Eddie Pepperell, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Alex Noren, Brandt Snedeker
TV AND ONLINE
Round 1: Thu 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 3-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Round 4: Sun 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
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Most years since 1983, the RBC Heritage has been the first event of the post-Masters season. As a result, a number of the higher-ranked players typically pass on this tournament, needing a break from arduous Masters prep, but with a new scheduling sequence to the majors, and the PGA Championship now just four weeks away, this year’s field will be one of its strongest.
Harbour Town Golf Links, the iconic Pete Dye design with help from Jack Nicklaus, has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1969.
The inaugural event was somewhat overshadowed by the Vietnam War draft lottery, which took place the day after the tournament ended, but it was thrilling four days, with one of the all-time greats, Arnold Palmer, winning by three strokes.
Other legendary winners of the RBC Heritage include Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Payne Stewart, and Greg Norman.
Davis Love III leads the tournament in wins with five – most recently in 2003. The only other player with more than two is Irwin, whose three victories include the first (1971) and last (1994) wins of his illustrious Hall of Fame career.
2012-19: RBC Heritage
2011-11: The Heritage
2006-10: Verizon Heritage
2003-05: MCI Heritage
2001-02: WorldCom Classic
1995-00: MCI Classic
1987-94: MCI Heritage Golf Classic
1980-86: Sea Pines Heritage
1979: Sea Pines Heritage Classic
1977-78: Heritage Classic
1971-76: Sea Pines Heritage Classic
1969-70: Heritage Golf Classic
2018: Satoshi Kodaira (-12)
2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
2016: Branden Grace (-9)
2015: Jim Furynk (-18)
2014: Matt Kuchar (-11)
2013: Graeme McDowell (-9)
2012: Carl Pettersson (-14)
2011: Brandt Snedeker (-12)
Scoring: 264 (-20) Brian Gay, 2009
Wins: 5 – Davis Love III (1987, 1991-92, 1998, 2003)
Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira, 28, overcame a 2-over 73 in round one with an 8-under 63 in round two – the low-round of the tournament. He closed with weekend scores of 70-66 to finish at 12-under 272, resulting in a playoff with South Korea’s Si Woo Kim.
After pars from both players on the first two extra holes (18-18), Kodaira sank a 24’ 6” putt for a birdie-2 at No. 17 to claim his maiden PGA Tour victory.
FINAL TOP 5
1. Satoshi Kodaira -12*
2. Si Woo Kim -12
3. Bryson DeChambeau -11
3. Luke List -11
5. Webb Simpson -10
5. Billy Horschel -10
Won on third playoff hole
Coming off a runner-up at The Masters, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is a solid favorite at 8-1, despite a field that is fairly stout, which includes three additional top-10 ranked players.
One of Johnson’s major strengths is his ability to crush the ball off the tee, however, Harbour Town offers few holes that reward such an approach. With its small greens, though, precise shot-making will be crucial at almost every turn. DJ’s much improved wedge play has been one of the main factors that has helped him rise to the top of the golfing world in the last two years.
One player who is not particularly long but extremely accurate is Italy’s Francesco Molinari, who’s listed next at 14-1. If he can overcome the disappointment of Sunday’s performance (two double bogeys on the back nine) at Augusta National, he should be a serious threat alongside DJ.
Besides DJ and Molinari, other top-10 ranked players in the field include No. 8 Bryson DeChambeau, who finished T3 here last year, and is another top betting favorite at 18-1 – as is No. 9 Xander Schauffele, who, like DJ, enters off a runner-up at Augusta. He is offered at 20-1.
Other top-20 ranked players in the field include world No. 15 Tommy Fleetwood, No. 16 – and 2014 Heritage winner – Matt Kuchar (T12), No. 18 Patrick Cantlay (T9), and No. 20 Webb Simpson, who finished T5 at the Masters.
Mired in a protracted and perplexing slump is No. 34 Jordan Spieth, who has to be the field’s most intriguing name. The former all-world superstar makes his debut at Hilton Head off a T21 at Augusta, his best showing since a T12 last Labor Day at TPC Boston. Despite his recent poor form, the oddsmakers list Spieth as one the top betting favorites at 22-1.
THE RBC HERITAGE ODDS
Carey Hoffman contributed to this preview.
Credits: PGA Tour Media, OWGR, Bovada, Getty Images