It figures! I have been picking Sergio Garcia to win one major each year since I started doing golf previews here at Doc's. The Spaniard probably was the best player still without one, and it had to come sooner or later. Sadly, I didn't really touch on El Nino at the Masters, but he won the green jacket by beating Justin Rose on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday in what was some compelling golf to watch - although the TV ratings were way down. I guess Americans didn't care as much to see a guy from Spain and one from England duel on the back-nine.
Garcia, who missed a 5-foot birdie put to win on the 72nd hole, needed only two putts for par on the first extra hole but instead made the birdie putt. Garcia and Rose matched closing 69s for 9-under 279 totals, three clear of South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, who shot 68 for 282. It was the first time since 1998 the last two players on the course went to the 18th tied for the lead.
Somewhat fitting that Sergio won on Sunday because it would have been the 60th birthday of his idol and greatest Spanish golfer ever, two-time Masters winner Seve Ballesteros. Garcia became the sixth player to win a Masters after once being a low amateur in the tournament - he was in 1999. Garcia's 73 majors without a win was a record. He had finished in the Top 10 at a major 22 times, including four runner-up finishes.
I thought Jordan Spieth would win a second green jacket, and he started Sunday just two back despite a quadruple-bogey nine on Thursday. However, Spieth started Sunday bogey-birdie-bogey and hit into the water yet again at No. 12 for a double bogey. It was at that hole he dunked two shots in the final round of 2016 to cough up what looked to be a sure win. Spieth just missed a Top 10 this year. I did get Rory McIlroy for one at -150 as he finished T7 at 3 under. I also thought Dustin Johnson would contend, but he fell down some stairs on Wednesday and shockingly had to withdraw right as his tee time arrived on Thursday. Do I think there's something fishy going on there? Maybe.
Now the PGA Tour heads up the Atlantic coast for the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. As you might expect the week after a major, it's not a strong field as most to players want to decompress. This course is similar to a links style you would find in Scotland. It's a par 71 at 7,100 yards and shot-making is more important here than bombing it off the tee because the fairways are very narrow. The winds will be a factor.
The defending champion is South African Branden Grace. He started the final round in 2016 three shots behind leader Luke Donald, but Grace shot a 5-under 66 to finish at 9-under 275 and two shots ahead of Donald and Scotland's Russell Knox. It was his first PGA Tour win. It was the third straight time Donald couldn't close out a 54-hole lead at this event. He was caught by Matt Kuchar in 2014 and Brandt Snedeker three years before. Since the Heritage moved into the post-Masters slot in 1983, only six players have won without spending the prior week at the Masters. The winner here gets a plaid jacket.
Golf Odds: RBC Heritage Favorites
Kuchar, who had an ace at No. 16 at the Masters on Sunday, is the +1400 Bovada favorite . He finished T4 at Augusta and has been in the Top 10 here the past three years, including that win in 2014 when he finished 11-under 273. Snedeker is +2000. He was 27th at the Masters and hasn't finished better than 17th at this event since his victory in 2011. That year, he beat Donald in a playoff.
The favorites are rounded out by Russell Henley, Bill Haas, Grace, Kevin Kisner and Tyrrell Hatton (all +2500). The last player to repeat at this event was Boo Weekley in 2008. Henley won in Houston to earn a Masters spot and was 11th there. He was 23rd in Hilton Head last year. Hatton is the highest-ranked player in the field. It's his debut off missing the cut at Augusta.
Golf Odds: RBC Heritage Picks
For a Top-10 finish, I like Kuchar (+125), Kisner (+225), Grace (+225) and Donald (+275). Go Marc Leishman (+125) as top Aussie, Hatton (+600) as top European and Donald (+450) as top Great Britain & Ireland player.
Head-to-head, take Kisner (-120) over Martin Kaymer (-110), Grace (-115) over Haas (-115), Kuchar (-130) over Snedeker (even), Donald (-115) over Jim Furyk (-115), and Hatton (-115) over Henley (-115).
I'll go with chalk on Kuchar to win, but I'm throwing some longer-shot money on Donald as well at +3300 because if anyone is a "Horse for the Course" at Harbour Town it's him with four second-place finishes and one third. He's way overdue for a victory.
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