First Round Leader

RBC Heritage First-Round Leader Tips: Svensson can set the pace

Adam Svensson golfer
Adam Svensson likes playing golf by the sea.

The PGA Tour has moved to South Carolina and Matt Cooper has three each-way bets to be first-round leader at Harbour Town Golf Links...

  • Seaside fan Adam Svensson also likes a Thursday

  • Shane Lowry can bounce back from Augusta blues

  • Another fan of oceanside golf is Akshay Bhatia


Weather forecast

It tends to be the case that at a coastal location the wind is likely to become more blustery as the day wears on. It's always worth bearing in mind that it could happen because the weather can change quickly by the ocean. But as it stands there is forecast to be wind peaking at around 15mph all day with the early starters getting only a very slightly advantage at a couple of mph below that.


Main Bet: Adam Svensson 1pt each-way @ 100/1

I'm going bold with the first pick and taking three figures for Adam Svensson.

The Canadian first dropped a hint that he liked fiddly, windy courses with grainy greens when he won on the Korn Ferry Tour at The Abaco Club in the Bahamas and his second win at that level was along the same lines at the Landings Club in Georgia.

In one of his rare early forays onto the PGA Tour he made a fast start in Puerto Rico and so it has continued on when he won a card.

In his rookie year, he held the solo first round lead in the Sony Open at Waialae, posted a low second round at PGA National in the Honda Classic and carded a 61 at Sedgefield (players who thrive there often play Harbour Town well too).

Since returning to the PGA Tour he's posted more low scores (and top 10s) at Waialae and PGA National, and was tied third after 18 holes at Harbour Town last year.

He ended the year winning at Sea Island, carding a 62 and two 64s along the way.

He closed the Masters with an 80 so there's absolutely no getting away from that.

But this week is far more his thing and it's not long ago that he was fifth after 18 holes and solo first after 36 holes at TPC Sawgrass - a course, like Harbour Town, designed by Pete Dye.

He has an afternoon tee time but I'll take the chance.

Back Adam Svensson each-way @

100/1

Next Best: 1pt each-way Shane Lowry @ 40/1

Like everyone in the field, Shane Lowry's week could go many ways but I suspect he is high on the list of players with the potential to go very well or very badly.

Because last week at Augusta National he started playing wonderful golf tee-to-green, in fact Strokes Gained rated him quite comfortably the best, but his putting was remarkable for its inability to find the bottom of the cup.

And once frustration set in he found it difficult to recover.

That could maintain this week.

And he could also find himself enjoying the smaller, flatter greens of Harbour Town.

He's certainly done so in the past and often on Thursday.

He was tied fifth after an opening 66 on debut in 2017, the solo leader following a 65 in 2019 and tied third last year having signed for a 66.

He also has two 65s and two 66s in his last seven rounds at the course.

The clincher is the price. Something in the 20s wouldn't have tempted but 40/1 does.

He's out early in the morning wave.

Back Shane Lowry each-way @

40/1

Final Bet: Akshay Bhatia 1pt each-way @ 100/1

There has been plenty of evidence in the 2022/23 season that Akshay Bhatia likes to go low.

Moreover the location of his best scores bodes very well for this week.

After a steady T17th finish in Bermuda he secured weekend golf with a second round 61 at Sea Island.

Taking a step back onto the second tier early this year he ended round one tied second after 18 holes in both the two Bahamas events (he also won there in 2022).

And, when he returned to the PGA Tour, he posted a second round 65 at PGA National, opened the Puerto Rico Open with a 66 for another tied second and carded a second round 63 in the Dominican Republic.

This is all good vibes for another blustery challenge by the sea - as is a top five 18-hole position at El Camaleon back in 2020.

He's last out in the morning wave.

Back Akshay Bhatia each-way @

100/1

* Having difficulty working out the place returns? Fret no more - you can easily work out your returns with our new each way calculator.

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