Gaining Strokes – RBC Heritage

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Man, it felt good to have golf back last week! Daniel Berger will go down in his history as the first winner in the “After Quarantine” era as he outlasted Collin Morikawa in a playoff to claim the Charles Schwab Challenge from Colonial Country Club. It was an action-packed Sunday with nearly a dozen players had a chance to break through as the day played out, which led to great drama despite the fact that no fans were present. Whether you are veteran of PGA DFS or a newcomer last week, I’m hoping you are starting to see the enjoyment in what I firmly believe is the best DFS option on the planet. Hopefully this week doesn’t let us down after the thriller in Fort Worth last week. 

Our second tournament back since the season shutdown back in March takes us to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a staple on the PGA Tour schedule – the RBC Heritage from Harbour Town Golf Links. Most of us have seen the iconic pictures of the lighthouse visible from the 18th fairway, but we will be seeing this event at a much different time of year because of the numerous schedule changes this season. Usually hosted the week following the Masters, this event is not accustomed to the strength of field that will be present this week as 15 of the top 20 players in the world will tee it up at one of the shortest courses on Tour. The defense this course has against ultra-low scores are narrow, tree-lined fairways and some of the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. These things make this course a true positional track, one that bombers will need to scale back on in order to be successful this week. 

Statistically, it should be no shock that iron play and play around the green are the overriding indicators of success at Harbour Town. The Green In Regulation percentage here is significantly lower than average on Tour, so the short game of these players will be on display often. We see an increase in driving accuracy at this course, which is mainly attributed to players having to club down off of the tee, resulting in lower than average driving distance numbers as well. Players will notice a grass change on the greens this week as well as we transition to bermuda greens rather than the bentgrass greens we saw a week ago at Colonial. Lastly, targeting players that excel at Par 4 Scoring could be a key this week, as each of the last eight winners here have finished inside the Top 10 in Par 4 Scoring for the week in Hilton Head. 

Last week’s edition of Gaining Strokes gave us four out of five players making the cut, with Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland both being in the mix to win heading into Sunday’s final round. Let’s see if we can improve upon that performance this week – here are the players I like for the 2020 edition of the RBC Heritage!

$10,000 Range

Rory McIlroy ($11,300)

I say it every week, but it is bears repeating – very rarely can you go wrong with anyone in this top price range. This week’s softer pricing makes it possible to roster anyone in the range without crippling the rest of your lineup, so I’m going to confidently go to Rory McIlroy this week. #1 overall in my stats model, McIlroy will hopefully be able to shake off the miserable final round from last week in which he lost 2.8 strokes on the greens, the most he has lost in any single round since last year’s U.S. Open. Bermuda greens are McIroy’s preferred surface, which will hopefully bring back a bit of confidence in his putting stroke as he tries to continue an amazing streak of nine Top 6 finishes in his last 11 starts. Another positive with Rory this week could be a slightly decreased ownership in GPPs after he burned many last week on Sunday. I see it as a perfect opportunity to get back on Rory this week. 

$9,000 Range

Sungjae Im ($9,800)

There are only four players in this range this week and you could honestly make a case for all of them. This week though I’m going to stick with the most reliable player in the range in my opinion, Sungjae Im. Since the institute of the new cut rules on the PGA Tour this season it has become evident how tough it is to get 6 of 6 lineups through Friday and into the weekend, so why not side with the man who has made 24 of this last 26 cuts, including seven Top 10s and a win. Coming off of a 10th place finish last week, Im is clearly one of the best ball strikers on Tour, and I’m willing to overlook a slight deficiency in his Around The Green game for his consistency and control in the iron game. Like McIlroy, Im prefers the bermuda greens that we are going to see this week as well, making him an even better choice in my opinion amongst a stacked $9K range this week.

$8,000K Range

Patrick Reed ($8,800)

Patrick Reed comes into Hilton Head off of a 7th place finish last week at Colonial that was a little bit under the radar for most viewers on Sunday. That 7th place finish last week was his third consecutive Top 15 finish and fourth in his last five starts, so he is certainly another example of a player that picked up right where he left off before the Tour shutdown. Reed, #6 in my overall stats model this week, is one of only three players (McIlroy and Matsuyama are the others) that rank inside the Top 20 in every stat in my stat model, highlighted by his #2 ranking in Par 4 Scoring in this field. There are a lot of big names in this price range, and since Reed is never considered a fan favorite I can see him being overlooked here. His short game is fantastic as well, allowing him to save par in many instances if he were to miss a green this week and make birdies when giving himself opportunities. Reed is one of my favorite plays on the board this week in a range that I can see myself living heavily in this week.

$7,000 Range

Byeong Hun An ($7,500)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I’m going right back to An this week after a disappointing Sunday led to a 60th place finish last week at Colonial. If you dig a little deeper into his Sunday round, however, it really stands out as an anomaly. His final round was the first time in nine rounds that he had lost strokes on approach, and on top of that he lost 4 full strokes on approach, which he had only done twice in his entire career prior to that. I’m not worried about the ball striking snapping back, and his Around The Green game is fantastic, which is a stat in which he ranks #2 in this field. The putting is always an issue for An, but he is one player that I think the small greens may actually help as his iron game is good enough to get him on the dance floor and the reduced proximity to the hole should lessen the chance of a disaster with the flat stick. I’ve done this dance a lot of time with An – I’m confident this one ends positively this week. 

$6,000 Range

Jason Dufner ($6,500)

The stats model doesn’t agree this week, but I think Dufner is primed for a decent showing this week. Over the course of his last six starts he has made every cut and gained strokes Tee To Green and Around The Green in five of those starts. Harbour Town has been a course that has suited him well in the past as well, as he has made six of his last seven cuts and gained strokes Tee To Green and Off The Tee in six of those starts, as well as gaining strokes on Approach in five of those starts. My stats model doesn’t like the number of birdies Dufner is making over his last 50 rounds, but at this course I think he can give himself enough opportunities to hang around the Top 20 on the leaderboard. I’ll take a chance with him as my favorite play in this range.

As always, thank you very much for giving my article a glance this week as you prepare for the RBC Heritage. If you have any questions you would like to ask me about your lineup or about my article in general, join us on DPA Premium where you can get exclusive access to myself as well as the rest of our other experts for NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL.

Tonight we will be running the second installment of our LIVE chat session with all of our members to help you construct any PGA lineups prior to tomorrow morning’s lineup lock. Join us in our Slack Chat for more information – hopefully we will see you all with us tonight and good luck this week at the RBC Heritage!