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RBC Heritage - the calm after the storm

Branden Grace with the iconic Hilton Head lighthouse in the background (Photo: Getty Images)
The PGA Tour’s traditional follow up event to the Masters, The RBC Heritage, is played this week at its permanent venue at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head in South Carolina and, while the field includes none of the world's top 10 ranked players, 10 of the last 11 winners of the event are teeing it up.

Many like to take the week off after the rigours of a battle with Augusta National while others enjoy the quality and relaxed nature of this venue and the challenge of the Pete Dye-designed layout, considered by many to be one of the best on the PGA Tour.  

The tournament has been good to Australians over the years with Graham Marsh, Greg Norman, Aaron Baddeley and Peter Lonard all having won over one of the PGA Tour’s most popular layouts and Baddeley, who also finished runner-up on one other occasion, is in the field this week.

Baddeley was a very solid 15th at his last start in Houston two weeks ago so his chances of another good week at Hilton Head are potentially very good.

The leading ranked Australian in this week’s field is another Victorian, Marc Leishman, who played well in patches last week at the Masters including his final round of 71 which was a good way to leave Augusta after what had been a disappointing Saturday.

Other Australians vying for a slice of the US$5.9 million prize money are Geoff Ogilvy, Cameron Smith, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Greg Chalmers and Steven Bowditch.

Of the more fancied players this week, defending champion Branden Grace must be considered a good chance given his solid, albeit unspectacular, form this year but also because he finished seventh in his only other start in this event two years ago.

Matt Kuchar had a great week at the Masters last week, sharing fourth, and as a previous winner and having been inside the top 10 several times in this event, his chances look very good for another good week here.

Tyrell Hatton missed the cut on debut at Augusta National last week but he was not the only good player to do that and given his overall progress in the game in the last year and his recent form, he might be a factor in trying to win his first PGA Tour title. Hatton has finished 4th twice in PGA Tour events this season and this is a layout where European golfers have often done well.

Russel Henley was the last man into the Masters and did well to finish 11th on such late notice after winning in Houston the week before. Henley has experienced mixed results at Hilton head but did finish sixth on debut four years ago.

There is little doubting the fact that the player with the most impressive record in recent times at Hilton Head is Luke Donald who has recorded an amazing six top-three finishes from his last eight starts without winning. His most recent form however is of concern although he does have a capacity to throw in a really good week from left field.  

In trying to find some value in the field, you could do worse than William McGirt who played so well early at the Masters before finishing 22nd which, on debut, was impressive enough. McGirt, the winner of the Memorial last year, has been inside the top 10 in two of his last three starts at this event.

Kevin Kisner has been enjoying a good run of form and does boast a runner-up finish in this event two years ago.  




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