PGA Tour Picks: RBC Heritage Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/16/2014
Ratings were down for the 2014 Masters and so was the overall interest at the sportsbooks. Whereas the Masters usually takes by far the most action of any golf tournament in a given year, I could see whichever major Tiger Woods returns for first this year passing it up. That's how much Tiger drives the needle.
Bubba Watson won his second green jacket in three years, and now lefties have won six of the past 12 Masters. Have the folks at Augusta National Tiger-proofed the course so much that it now favors lefties? It sure seems that way. Watson and Phil Mickelson are now the only lefties to win multiple major championships. Alas, I didn't have Watson winning. In fact, I went with Matt Kuchar as my top American at 7/1, and he finished T5 after a final-round 74. I did hit on Lee Westwood at 3/1 as the top Englishman. He finished solo seventh. Jordan Spieth finished T2 to earn top debutant honors with Jonas Blixt. I went with Harris English there, and he missed the cut.
I took the field at -500 against the Big 3 of Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Mickelson (+330). I wasn't high at all on Mickelson and he missed the cut. I chose not to take the "selected four" of Watson, Kuchar, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson at +500 against the field (-900) because Sergio Garcia wasn't part of that quartet. I would have had he been. Garcia was my guy to win at 20/1, but he massively disappointed by missing the cut. Maybe he'll never win a major. Next major up: the U.S. Open starting June 12 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Tiger's buddy, Notah Begay, said this week he didn't think Woods would be back by then. I believe he's right and that the British Open and that grueling travel (especially on someone off back surgery) is also unlikely.
This week the Tour heads up the East Coast a bit (114 miles to be exact) to the very stress-free RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, a favorite stop for players to decompress and bring their families. The par-71, 7,101-yard layout is one of the shortest on the Tour, but the wind and narrow fairways make it challenging. Watson isn't playing this week; he's still touring Waffle Houses in the Southeast. Spieth is in the field. So is CBS analyst Nick Faldo, only his second PGA Tour event in the past four years. Tom Watson is playing too. He's won this tournament twice.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is the defending champion despite starting the final round four shots out of the lead. He beat Webb Simpson in a playoff on the first extra hole. Both missed potential winning putts on the 72nd hole. McDowell didn't make the cut last week, but he didn't at the 2013 Masters, either, leading into this. It was McDowell's first win in an official PGA Tour event since the 2010 U.S. Open.
According to the PGA Tour, only six players have won this tournament without playing the week before at the Masters since the Heritage moved the week immediately following it in 1983. It last happened in 2012 with Carl Pettersson. McDowell looks to become the fourth player to repeat at Hilton Head. The winner here gets an even more garish jacket than Augusta: a tartan model.
PGA Tour Odds: RBC Heritage Favorites
Day would have been the highest-ranked player in the field and one of the favorites, but he pulled out after his thumb injury flared up. It's his third W/D this year due to the thumb injury. Spieth and Kuchar opened as the 16/1 co-favorites at Bovada. I will be very curious to see how Spieth handles himself here after coming up short last week. By all accounts he's not a hothead and very mature for his age. Spieth was T9 here a year ago.
Kuchar is going to win the Masters one day. He could have 3-4 wins this season if not for some final-round struggles. He hasn't broken 70 in the final round of a tournament since the Sony Open in Hawaii. He also hasn't finished worse than fifth in his past three events and has eight Top-10s already. Kuchar was T35 at the 2013 RBC.
Luke Donald (18/1), Jim Furyk (20/1) and Zach Johnson (20/1), all guys who played last week as well, round out the favorites. Donald is very overdue to win here with two runners-up finishes and two thirds. Furyk won here in a playoff four years ago and has two other runners-up results. Johnson was second here two years ago.
PGA Tour Picks: RBC Heritage Predictions
Generally shorter hitters and not the bombers have fared well here. Is this the week a European wins? This is event 23 of 45 on the 2013-14 schedule and it's been all American or Aussie winners thus far. It's the first time in 10 years no Euro has won a tournament by the Masters.
Interestingly, Bovada is offering Top-20 finish props this week. So I'll take that on Donald (-110), 2011 champion Brandt Snedeker (+140), Furyk (-115) and English (+120). I think Kuchar and Spieth struggle a bit this week with a Masters hangover. Jump on Donald at 2/1 as the top Great Britain and Ireland player and Ernie Els at 11/2 as the top South African. Els has a strong record at this course even if he isn't playing great this year. He missed the cut last week. Head-to-head, I like Donald (-115) over Zach Johnson (-115), Snedker (+115) over McDowell (-150), Furyk (+110) over Spieth (+140) and Charley Hoffman (+105) over Kevin Na (+135).
I'm tempted to take Donald or Furyk this week, but there have been six first-time winners this season, and I believe there will be seventh here. That guy is Chris Stroud at 40/1 (he's not a long hitter and ranks fourth in scrambling). He didn't play last week and was T12 in Houston before the Masters. Stroud already has two T3s on the season and was T6 here a year ago.
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