RBC Heritage: Cantlay can be Head boy

American Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay was third at Hilton Head last year
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The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina this week for the RBC Heritage at picturesque Hilton Head. Dave Tindall previews the event and picks out his three best bets...

"The man who once shot 60 on the PGA Tour when still an amateur was a classy tied fourth at the Genesis Open in February and probably just needs the right course again."

Main Bet: Back Patrick Cantlay e.w. @ 33/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Patrick Cantlay e.w. @ 33/1

It can be hard to muster enthusiasm for golf after the high of Masters week but, for some reason, the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links has been one of my most profitable events on the PGA Tour down the years.

The good fortune continued last year when 66/1 tip Wesley Bryan managed to come from four back and edge out Luke Donald by a shot.

One of the clues as to why he might excel there had been provided by Bryan himself when he'd noted: "I would say Harbour Town is just a slightly smaller version of Tampa, Innisbrook (home of the Valspar Championship.

"It has a similar look that kind of shapes through the trees. And has some nice kind of rolling hills and some rolling greens that kind of dip off on the sides."

Bryan had finished T7 there just a month earlier, bringing his theory to life.

There are lots of other examples and 2017 provided another.
Patrick Cantlay was a one-shot runner-up to Adam Hadwin in the Valspar; two starts later he finished tied third here at the RBC Heritage and just two behind Bryan.

The American's story has been told plenty of times but, to quickly summarise, he was World Amateur No. 1 for over a year, destined for greatness, had his career stalled by a bad back but is now a PGA Tour winner after taking victory in Las Vegas at the end of last year.

He's not quite set the world on fire since then but the man who once shot 60 on the PGA Tour when still an amateur was a classy tied fourth at the Genesis Open in February and probably just needs the right course again.

Augusta National wasn't that place last week thanks mainly to a cold putter and having two days off may not be the worst thing for him.

Cantlay is certainly not just happy to be out there again after fighting back from injury; he's aiming high.

In Vegas, he said: "I want to be the best player in the world, and I want to win a bunch of tournaments. I feel like if that's not what you're out here for, you shouldn't be out here.

"I've put in a lot of hard work. But I knew that I'd be able to get to where I wanted to be if I felt healthy. If I felt like I didn't have pain and I could practice and prepare for tournaments I feel like I can play well and compete with anybody."

His quotes from the various tournaments that he's been called in for interview are fairly monotonous but he did offer this at last year's Players Championship: "I like golf courses where there's a premium on hitting the ball in the fairway and playing smart shots into the greens."

That's certainly the recipe for success at Hilton Head this week where the fairways are narrow and there's more emphasis than usual on hitting second shots from the short grass if you want to find the particularly small greens.

I'm expecting a big challenge from Cantlay at 33/1.


Next Best: Back Kevin Kisner e.w. @ 33/1

Dustin Johnson could run away with this. He's not far from home and might find it a bit of a doddle after the mental grind of Augusta National.

However, his big hitting is seriously negated and his presence is probably more due to sponsorship reasons than a huge belief that this is a 'must-play' course for him.

There are plenty of options for punters here thanks to DJ taking a decent chunk out of the market and I give serious chances to Paul Casey, Adam Hadwin, Ollie Schniederjans and Cameron Smith.

Further down, Kevin Na, Russsell Knox and Jason Kokrak have each-way potential at 50s, 50s and 80s respectively.

But my second pick has to be Kevin Kisner.

The American made it all the way to the final of the WGC-Dell Match Play before running out of gas in the Championship match against Bubba but that was a big week for him and he played some excellent golf.

After a deserved rest, he had his third crack at Augusta National and produced his best Masters finish of tied 28th. Not amazing, but he shot 69 on Saturday - the first time he'd ever broken par there in three attempts - so it was a pretty satisfactory week.

That's a venue where it's hard to see him winning but Hilton Head is absolutely on his hit-list.

Kisner was runner-up in 2015 after shooting a Sunday 64 and he shot middle rounds of 64-66 last year to be third with a round to play before slipping to T11.

He has plenty of great form at correlating courses too. A pair of top fives in his last three starts in the Sony Open and a win (2015) and fourth (2017) in the RSM Classic.

Yep, we're definitely in KK country this week and I fully expect to see him up there.

Last year, Kisner said: "I just feel like it's a great shot-maker's course. You can be in the fairway and have to carve shots into the pin. It kind of suits my game. I love to see the picture and try to hit the shots. This is one of my favourite places on Tour."

At Augusta National, he said: "I played nice, I'm putting nice, I feel comfortable."

With positive noises being made about both course and current form, Kisner is definitely on the team at 33s.


Final Bet: Back Si Woo Kim e.w. @ 100/1

There's also been some mileage down the years in picking players who finished nicely at Augusta National without feeling the heat of contention.

One who fits the bill here is Si Woo Kim, whose weekend score of five-under was just one more swish than winner Patrick Reed took over the final 36 holes at Augusta National. Kim eventually finished tied 24th.

A word association game with the Korean goes like this:

Golf punter A: Si Woo Kim.
Golf punter B: Players Championship.

That shock victory last year came, of course, at Sawgrass - another Pete Dye creation with small Bermuda greens.

Kim was first for Scrambling that week in Florida and got up and down pretty well (18th Scrambling) at Augusta National.

Prior to The Masters he'd topped his group at the WGC-Dell Match Playin Texas, ousting American trio Gary Woodland, Webb Simpson and Pat Perez before running into a red-hot Justin Thomas in the last 16.

To win the Players Championship means you're clearly something very special and to pass it off as a fluke simply doesn't work given that Kim won the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in North Carolina (we're in South Carolina this week) in 2016.

He shot a second-round 60 at Sedgefield to beat Luke Donald into second spot that year so that could be decent form-line given that the Englishman is a five-time Hilton Head runner-up and both courses are short and without the full complement of par fives.

Regardless, instead of deducing that Kim might like another shortish Pete Dye track, we have the evidence from two years ago when he pitched up here, opened with a 68 and finished tied 14th.

I thought I had another angle in when finding out that Kim's caddie at Sawgrass last year, Mark Carens, lives at Hilton Head Island so perhaps would have had some extra inside info about the course. However, Kim had a different man on the bag at Augusta last week.

Still, to get a three-figure price about Kim on a course which should suit him looks decent business given the encouraging signs of form he's shown in his last two starts at Augusta National and Austin Country Club.

Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £640
Returned: £1094
P/L: +£454

(After The Masters)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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