RBC Heritage Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson tees off on the 18th hole during round one of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town GL on Apr 12, 2018 in Hilton Head, SC. Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR

The 53rd edition of the RBC Heritage tees off this week at picturesque Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The field will feature ten of the world’s top-20 ranked golfers, headlined by five of the top-10, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Webb Simpson (9).

In all, 136 golfers will vie for the tournament’s signature plaid jacket, along with a first-place check totaling $1.278 million.

Here’s more on what to expect at this year’s RBC Heritage.

This week’s Primer is powered by Taylormade Golf.

This Week’s PGA Tour Event

Tournament: RBC Heritage
Title Sponsor: RBC
Dates: Apr. 15-18, 2021
Where: Hilton Head Island, SC
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
Distance: Par 71, 7099 yards
Architect: Pete Dye
Format: 72-holes, stroke play
Purse: $7,100,000
Winning Share: $1,278,000
Defending Champion: Webb Simpson
Other Marquee Players: Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Billy Horschel, Paul Casey, Sungjae Im, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Kisner, Will Zalatoris, Shane Lowry, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter

How to Follow the RBC Heritage

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 3-6 p.m. (GOLF); Sat-Sun: 1-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-6 p.m. (CBS)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (Groups); Sat-Sun: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (Groups), 3-6 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video

PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 12-6 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Web | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

RBC Heritage History

Arnold Palmer Heritage Golf Classic
Arnold Palmer poses with the trophy after winning the Heritage Golf Classic on Nov. 30. 1969 in in Hilton Head, SC. (Courtesy RBC Heritage)

The RBC Heritage, known for much of its time as the Heritage Classic, is a regular PGA Tour event in South Carolina, first played 52 years ago in 1969. It is currently contested in mid-April, usually the week following The Masters Tournament.

Harbour Town Golf Links, the famous Pete Dye design with help from Jack Nicklaus, has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1969.

The inaugural event, contested on Thanksgiving weekend in 1969, was somewhat overshadowed by the Vietnam War draft lottery, which took place the day after the tournament ended, but it was a thrilling four days, with one of the all-time greats, Arnold Palmer, winning by three strokes.

Arnold Palmer Wins the Heritage Golf Classic
The Observer-Reporter newspaper article, dated Dec. 1, 1969, reporting on Arnold Palmer’s win at the inaugural Heritage Golf Classic.

The win was Palmer’s first victory in more than a year, and the media, who covered the golf icon’s every move, cranked out hundreds of glowing stories and photos about the then 40-year old “breaking his winless streak” on “Pete Dye’s stunning new links course.”

Since that Thanksgiving weekend over 50 years ago – thanks in large part to the good fortune of Palmer claiming its maiden championship, “the Heritage,” Harbour Town Golf Links, and Hilton Head Island have gone on to become iconic as well, and an important part of golf’s history.

Co-course designer, Nicklaus, won the 1975 edition, which took place two weeks prior to his fifth Masters victory.

Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Payne Stewart, and Greg Norman are among other notable winners of the Heritage.

Davis Love III holds the tournament record for most wins with five. The only other player with more than two is Irwin, whose three victories include the first (1971) and last (1994) victories of his illustrious Hall-of-Fame career.

History: Tournament Names

2012-21: 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
1979-79: Sea Pines Heritage Classic
1977-78: Heritage Classic
1971-76: Sea Pines Heritage Classic
1969-70: Heritage Golf Classic

History: Tournament Months

The tournament has been played in the month of:
• November (1969–72)
• September (1973)
• March (1974–82) Two weeks before Masters
• April (1983–2019, 21–) Week after Masters
• June (2020) COVID-19 reschedule

History: Recent Winners

2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
2019: C.T. Pan (-12)
2018: Satoshi Kodaira (-12)
2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
2016: Branden Grace (-9)
2015: Jim Furyk (-18)
2014: Matt Kuchar (-11)
2013: Graeme McDowell (-9)
2012: Carl Pettersson (-14)
2011: Brandt Snedeker (-12)

History: RBC Heritage Records

Low Score: 262 – Webb Simpson (2020)
Low Under-Par: -22 – Webb Simpson (2020)
Largest Winning Margin: 10 Strokes – Brian Gay (2009)
Highest Winning Score: 283 – Arnold Palmer (1969)
Highest Winning To-Par: -1 – Arnold Palmer (1969)
Wins: 5 – Davis Love III (1987, 1991-92, 1998, 2003)

RBC Heritage Defending Champion

Webb Simpson poses with the trophy after winning the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC on Sunday June 21, 2020. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Harbour Town Golf Links, the site of the PGA Tour’s annual RBC Heritage, does not typically surrender especially low scores on the PGA Tour, with the winning score of the Hilton Head Island, South Carolina-based event bettering 14-under just once in the past decade.

However, just as 2020 has been anything but a typical year of golf, this year’s edition was far from typical as well, with 20 players eclipsing 14-under for the week.

The best score? It was Webb Simpson, who finished the week with a blazing 22-under score, the lowest in the event’s 51-year history, and he needed every one of those under-par holes, taking the Tour’s second tournament following a three-month pandemic layoff by a single stroke over rising star Abraham Ancer.

To illustrate how phenomenal the 34-year-old Simpson was in bettering Harbour Town’s exceptionally strong field, it should be noted that Simpson began the final day in a four-way tie for the lead, with Ancer among that lead group (Tyrrell Hatton and Ryan Palmer were the others).
Read Full Recap

Final Top-5 Finishers

Pos-Name-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Webb Simpson -22 (-7)
2. Abraham Ancer -21 (-6)
3. Daniel Berger -20 (-6)
3. Tyrrell Hatton -20 (-5)
5. Sergio Garcia -19 (-6)
5. Joaquin Niemann -19 (-6)

The RBC Heritage Field

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson acknowledges fans during round one of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town GL on Apr 12, 2018 in Hilton Head, SC. Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR

While not stacked like last week’s major at Augusta National, the field at Harbour Town Golf Links is nonetheless extremely solid, featuring ten of the top-20 ranked players in the world, headlined by five of the top-10.

Leading the way is world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who will make his fourth straight appearance at the Heritage. The 36-year old South Carolina native will enter off a string of disappointing finishes, including a missed cut at last week’s Masters.

Joining Johnson will be four more top-10 ranked players, including Webb Simpson (9), who won the 2020 edition with a tournament-record 22 under.

Collin Morikawa (No. 4), Tyrrell Hatton (8), and Patrick Cantlay (10) are the other top-10 ranked names in the field this week.

Five additional top-20 ranked stars will be hitting golf balls this week at Harbour Town, including Daniel Berger (16), Matthew Fitzpatrick (17), Billy Horschel (18), Paul Casey (19), and Sungjae Im (20).

RBC Heritage Odds

Will Zalatoris 2021 Masters Tournament Augusta National Golf Club
Will Zalatoris reacts to his putt on the sixth green during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2021 in Augusta, GA. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Players will be tested by one of the tightest designs on the PGA Tour – the Pete Dye-masterpiece of Harbour Town Golf Links.

Despite his recent form (four consecutive poor results), and mediocre track record at Hilton Head, bookmakers have Dustin Johnson listed as the favorite with odds of 10-1.

DJ is followed at 12-1 by defending champion Webb Simpson, and Patrick Cantlay at 14-1.

Collin Morikawa (20-1), Daniel Berger (25-1), Tyrrell Hatton (25-1), and Will Zalatoris (25-1) round out the top-5 betting favorites.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

1. Dustin Johnson (10-1)
2. Webb Simpson (12-1)
3. Patrick Cantlay (14-1)
4. Collin Morikawa (20-1)
5. Daniel Berger (25-1)
5. Tyrrell Hatton (25-1)
5. Will Zalatoris (25-1)

Power Rankings: Top 5

Webb Simpson RBC Heritage
Webb Simpson reacts on the 16th green during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC. Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Players who are accurate, both off the tee and to the greens, should find success this week in South Carolina.

1. Webb Simpson – Defending champion enters off a T12 at the Masters… Set the tournament record with -22 on the tricky Pete Dye track… Ranks in the top-25 on the PGA Tour in both fairways and greens hit.
World Rank: 10
2020 Heritage: 65, 65, 68, 64 (W)
2021 Masters: T12
Odds: 12-1

2. Tyrrell Hatton – A final-round 68 gave the Englishman a backdoor top 20 at the Masters last week… Shot -20 here last year, which would have won 52 other editions of the Heritage… Top-20 on Tour in both strokes gained: approach and off the tee.
World Rank: 8
2020 Heritage: 71, 64, 63, 66 (T3)
2021 Masters: T18
Odds: 25-1

3. Will Zalatoris – He’s making his debut at the Heritage but it was his debut at Augusta National too… Looks too good, and seems to have game tailor made for Harbour Town… Ranked 16th on Tour in GIR and 5th in strokes gained: approach.
World Rank: 27
2020 Heritage: Making debut
2021 Masters: 2nd
Odds: 25-1

4. Abraham Ancer – Shot -21 to finish just a stroke back last year… Enters in good form with five-straight finishes of T26 or better… Way overdue for his maiden PGA Tour win… Most accurate player on Tour (overall): 2nd in fairways, 14th in greens.
World Rank: 27
2020 Heritage: 69, 64, 65, 65 (2nd)
2021 Masters: 2nd
Odds: 25-1

5. Colin Morikawa – Finished with a top 20 at the Masters… Has laser-beam iron game and ranks first on Tour in strokes gained: approach, and fifth in greens hit… Would be higher but posted T64 here in debut last season.
World Rank: 4
2020 Heritage: 68, 69, 68, 74 (T64)
2021 Masters: T19
Odds: 20-1

Full Field: Rank & Odds

Harbour Town Golf Links . Hilton Head Island, SC . Apr 15-18, 2021

Joel Cook and Carey Hoffman contributed to this preview.

Credits: PGA Tour Media, OWGR, Bovada, Getty Images


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