RBC Heritage First-Round Leader Tips: Home in on Hoffman

American Charley Hoffman
Charley Hoffman can start fast

The PGA Tour moves to Hilton Head and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at Harbour Town Golf Links...

"A first-round leader earlier this season at the Safeway Open, he's been in the top 11 after day one in two of his last three events."

Back Charley Hoffman E/W @ 45/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: It could be a rainy day with showers forecast to kick in later in the morning. From 2pm it could get messy with t-storms predicted so there's a chance day one could bleed into day two. Winds are in a bell curve which peaks at around 1pm although there's nothing extreme - perhaps 8-10mph either side and a max of 12mph. Temperatures are pleasant in the mid-to-high 70s.

First-round leader history:
2020 - 64: Ian Poulter, Mark Hubbard
2019 - 65: Shane Lowry
2018 - 64: Rory Sabbatini
2017 - 63: Bud Cauley
2016 - 66: Luke Donald, Branden Grace
2015 - 66: Matt Every, Graeme McDowell
2014 - 66: Matt Kuchar, William McGirt, Scott Langley

Strategy: Early starters have posted the lead for the last three years although it hasn't always been the case. It looks as if the morning wave should get done before the t-storms so I'll lean towards those and pick two early and one late.

Choose Charley

Punters were denied their annual punt on Charley Hoffman being US Masters first-round leader when he carelessly forgot to qualify.

But, a week on, there looks a good chance to cash in on a fast start here.

Hoffman has been in fine form lately, finishing runner-up in the Texas Open on his latest outing and, prior to that, T10 at Bay Hill and T17 at Sawgrass.

A first-round leader earlier this season at the Safeway Open, he's been in the top 11 after day one in two of his last three events.

Hoffman has a decent record at Hilton Head with two top eights and a further pair of top 25s.

The Californian was second after day one on his fourth visit and the halfway leader (T7 after R1) in 2016.

His stats are impressive this season and he currently ranks 30th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Hoffman heads out early at 07:22 local so he's my first pick from the morning wave at 45/1.

Vote Villegas

I've put up the returning-to-form Camilo Villegas in my outright preview but will back him for FRL too.

The Colombian is starting to make an impression on leaderboards again after recovering from a shoulder injury and he was the first-round leader on his very latest start at the Texas Open two weeks ago thanks to a 64.

He hasn't played this course for four years but on previous visits he made several good starts which fuelled good finishes.

Looking through his Thursday performances, his end-of-day-one positions include a fourth, a sixth and a seventh.

As for tee-times, he's in the very first group out at 07:00 so should avoid most of the rain.

Take Villegas at the industry-best 130/1.

Poulter the pick from second wave

Ian Poulter shared the first-round leader here last year and I'm going to back the Englishman for a repeat performance.

IAN POULTER.JPG

IJP set out with a 64 in 2020 and that helped him record a fourth straight top 15 at this venue.

He was also quick out of the gate in 2017, shooting 66 to sit in the top five after 18 holes.

Poulter hasn't made too many fast starts lately but he did thrash Rory McIlroy on day one of the recent WGC Dell Match Play.

He shot lower each day when tied 26th in last week's US Masters and his love of Harbour Town could fuel another fast start.

"I like it. I like the small greens. I've always loved coming here to play golf," said Poulter last year.

Take him at 55/1 to go low from his 12:34pm tee-time.

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