PGA Tour Odds and Golf Predictions: The Heritage
by Alan Matthews - 4/20/2011
If you are a pretty devoted golf fan, you probably remember that The Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C., used to be the tournament immediately following the Masters. It used to draw a pretty solid field because the players liked the course and this event was treated almost more as a fun diversion from the pressure of the previous week than an intense tournament. Between 1983 and last year the event was played the week after the Masters; this year it is two weeks after Augusta. And as you can tell it doesn’t have a sponsor – without one yet signed for 2012 this event could be in some trouble if one isn’t found.
It’s definitely a dead time of sorts on the PGA Tour in between the Masters and the Players Championship, so the field is just average this week at Harbour Town Golf Links. Overall, eight of the world’s Top 25 are entered, led by No. 3 Luke Donald, No. 5 Graeme McDowell and No. 10 Matt Kuchar.
Donald has opened as the favorite on WagerWeb this week at +550, according to PGA Tour odds. Donald has played here the past two years, with finishes of T3 last year and T2 in 2009. He has also finished in the Top 10 in four of five four PGA Tour starts this year, which includes a win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. In fact, dating to last year’s Tour Championship, where he was runner-up to Jim Furyk by one shot, Donald has finished out of the Top 10 only one time in his last nine starts. And if Donald needs any more motivation, he can become No. 1 in the world this week for the first time in his career with a victory. Top-ranked Martin Kaymer is off this week and Lee Westwood, in second, is at the Asian Tour's Indonesian Masters, which has fewer ranking points.
Donald is one of the top ball-strikers on Tour and this course is set up for just that type of player.
"I love the way this course is different than most weeks; it's a shotmaker's course," said Donald to the local media. "I've had some success (here) and have obviously been playing well. It's good to be a favorite."
McDowell, the reigning U.S. Open champion, would seem great value at +1800, but he has been off. He has missed the cut in his last two tournaments, carding an 80 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in late March and finishing 3-over at the Masters. He hasn’t played this tournament since 2006.
Kuchar is the second-favorite at +850. He has played here seven times and has a best finish of T7 in 2008. The best bet on Kuchar, as it usually is, is for him to finish in the Top 10 at -115. He has finished in the Top 10 in six tournaments already this year and hasn’t missed a cut.
Furyk (+900) is the defending champion, and you may remember that tournament well. Furyk won in a playoff, but only after Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself for nicking a reed in a hazard on his backswing – you couldn’t even tell he did it from the naked eye. That rules violation cost Davis a chance at his first PGA Tour win, but earned him many fans around the world for his sportsmanship and honesty. Fuyrk doesn’t seem like a great bet, according to my golf predictions, as he really hasn’t contended this year, although he does have three other Top-5 finishes at this tournament outside his win.
I’d say the best value this week would be Aaron Baddeley at +1500. He won here in 2006 and was the runner-up in 2008. He had Top 25 finishes the past two years. Baddeley already has a win this year at Riviera and played very well at Houston before struggling at the Masters.
Look for this tournament to be close. In the last nine of the 12 Heritage's, five of them have had playoffs, three have had a one-stroke margin of victory while the other was two.
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