It's really hard not to root for Jordan Spieth. Everything you hear and read is that he's a great young guy with his head on his shoulders and not some pompous ass like Tiger Woods often was at the height of his fame. So it was doubly crushing to watch Spieth melt down Sunday on the par-3 155-yard 12th hole at the Masters, the shortest hole at Augusta National. He hit two in the water at that hole -- I can't even explain what happened on the second one from the drop area -- to put up a quadruple-bogey seven. Spieth had taken just eight total shots on No. 12 over the first three rounds.
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And that mistake, perhaps the biggest choke job in Masters history, cost Spieth a second straight green jacket (second straight going wire-to-wire as well; he had led a Masters record seven straight round) and handed the tournament to England's Danny Willett. How painful was it to then watch an obviously devastated Spieth have to put the green jacket on Willett in the ceremony? Agonizing, but what compelling TV. Spieth was up five shots when he made the turn on Sunday but also bogeyed Nos. 10 & 11.
I'm quite confident that Spieth won't let this ruin his career or even this season, although he said after: "Big picture, this one will hurt. It will take a while." Spieth still opened as the betting favorite for the U.S. Open at Oakmont this June.
It's not that Willett isn't deserving. The new father, who was the last player to officially arrive at the tournament because of that baby (his wife's original due date was April 10), shot a final-round 67 that tied for the best in the field.
Needless to say, I didn't have Willett as winning his first major, but I did hit on him at +350 as the top Englishman. So he was on my radar. A lot of people have called him the best European player most casual fans haven't heard of. I thought either Bubba Watson or Rory McIlroy would win. Watson opened 75-75-76 and wasn't a factor. McIlroy was done in by a third-round 77, but I did get him for a Top 10 at -162. Thought Phil Mickelson would contend as well but Lefty missed the cut. Did get Bernhard Langer as top senior at +225 as well as a handful of head-to-heads.
The tour heads up the East Coast to Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage this week, a very family-friendly and low-stress event after the grind that is the Masters. Most top players naturally take the week off. No Willett or Spieth or McIlroy or Mickelson. But No. 1 Day is playing. Bryson DeChambeau is making his pro debut a week after making his Masters debut. He was a big story last week.
I can't guarantee much when previewing these tournaments, but I can tell you that Jim Furyk won't repeat because he's still recovering from wrist surgery. Last year he shot a final-round 63 to get into a playoff with Kevin Kisner and then birdied the first two extra holes for his first win in nearly five years. He also won this event in 2010. Furyk said Monday at the tournament's opening ceremonies that is "starting to get some of (his) strength back" and he would love to be back playing tournaments by "sometime in May."
PGA Tour Golf Odds: RBC Heritage Favorites
Naturally, Day is the +550 heavy favorite at Bovada. He could never quite get it going last week, not breaking 70. But he finished T10 for his third straight Top 10 after wins at the Match Play and at Bay Hill. Day hasn't played here since a 30th in 2013.
Paul Casey and Brandt Snedeker are +1600. Casey also shot a final-round 67 at Augusta to finish fourth. He last played here in 2014 and was 18th. Snedeker was T10 at the Masters and won here in 2011 but hasn't had a Top 10 since despite playing every year.
Kisner (+2000) rounds out the favorites. He made a birdie on the 72nd hole last year to force the playoff in his final-round 64. He is struggling right now without a Top 20 since the Sony Open in Hawaii.
PGA Tour Picks: RBC Heritage Expert Betting Predictions
While Day is clearly the best player in the field, I'm not seeing how he will be real focused here. So I don't even like him for a Top 10. I do like Casey (+175), Matt Kuchar (+200) and Luke Donald (+400). Why Donald? Four Top-3 finishes in this event in the past six.
Head-to-head, take Casey (+135) over Day (-175), Kuchar (-110) over Snedeker (-120), Zach Johnson (-125) over Kisner (-105), Justin Thomas (-115) over Branden Grace (-115), Kevin Na (-115) over Billy Horschel (-115), and Donald (-115) over Graeme McDowell (-115).
Furyk was asked Monday who he thought would win. His answer: Snedeker, McDowell or Kuchar. I'll agree and take Kuchar at +2200. He won here two years ago and was fifth last year.
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