Well-fancied [32.0] chance, Webb Simpson, rallied late on to win the RBC Heritage and Steve Rawlings looks back at all the action here...
“Simpson was at the head of the market through 54 holes but with so many shooting low scores, his victory was far from straightforward and he needed a quite magnificent finish to claim the spoils.”
The RBC Heritage had been played at Harbour Town for 51 years prior to this year's renewal and in its entire history, only two players had shot 19-under-par or better. Loren Roberts won the 1996 edition by three strokes with a 19-under-par total and Brian Gay pulverised the field, winning by ten, when he shot 20-under-par in 2009. This year, as many as six players reached that total and Webb Simpson has set a new tournament record with his winning total of 22-under-par.
Simpson was matched for a few pounds at a high of [42.0] on Monday but he went off a well-supported and tipped-up [32.0] chance. He sat just one off the lead after round one, led by a stroke at halfway and he was one of four players tied for the lead with a round to go.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, Simpson was at the head of the market through 54 holes but with so many shooting low scores, his victory was far from straightforward and he needed a quite magnificent finish to claim the spoils.
Tyrrell Hatton, a pre-event [65.0] chance, who hit a high of [790.0] after a slow start to the tournament, looked the most likely winner when he birdied four of the first six holes and the Englishman was matched at just [2.08] but he didn't get going again after a lengthy weather break.
Pre-tournament [80.0] shot, Abraham Ancer, who hit a high of [250.0] in-running, was matched at a low of [2.78] and my [170.0] pre-event pick, Joaquin Niemann, was matched at just [4.5] when he hit the front with just two holes to play after back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16. At the time, it looked like a pair of pars might just see him into a playoff but he hit a poor tee-shot on the par three 17th that led to a bogey four and Simpson finished like a train.
Last week's winner, Daniel Berger, threw his hat in the ring late on with birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to get to 20-under-par but he still finished two shots shy of the fast-finishing Simpson.
It had been a relatively slow day for Webb before the weather break and he was matched at a high of [20.0] just after midnight UK time. He played the first 11 holes in just two-under-par but it all changed at the par four 12th and when he drained a 17 footer at 17 to take control, he'd made five birdies in six holes.
To his credit, playing in the final group alongside Hatton, Ancer kept going and he got to within one when he too birdied the 17th hole but he could only par the last - leaving Webb to lift his seventh trophy, move to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and inside the world's top five.
It hasn't been a good week but I very nearly turned it into a profitable one.
Simpson was the first 54-hole leader or co-leader to win at Harbour Town since 2012 so my tactic in-running was always going to be to take on the frontrunners. I toyed with laying the front three in the market before the final round but didn't, so the was a plus and with Niemann birdying the 16th to take the lead, I came very close to making a profit on the week.
I just missed the low price of [4.5] but I could have layed the Chilean at [5.0] to make a profit for the week. Instead I chose to try and get him in the book at [4.7] - a trade I could only get partially matched before his poor tee-shot on 17. It was a chance missed and I kicked myself afterwards but it's always easy in hindsight. If he'd have stiffed the tee-shot to within kick-in birdie range his price would have collapsed and I'd have been moaning I'd layed him at too big a price. It's never an exact science and I've learned to live with my decisions whether they transpire to be good or bad.
Sedgefield signposts clearly evident
The first of Webb's seven PGA Tour titles was the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in 2011 and that's a course that clearly correlates nicely with Harbour Town.
Sedgefield hosted the Wyndham between 1961 and 1976, before it moved to Forest Oaks between 1977 and 2007 but since it's return to Sedgefield 12 years ago, four man have won there, as well as Harbour Town, and it could easily have been more.
Carl Pettersson, Davis Love, Brandt Snedeker and now Webb have all won at both venues, last year's RBC Heritage winner, C.T Pan, was the runner-up at Sedgefield in 2018. The 2016 Wyndham winner, Si Woo Kim, lost in a playoff at the RBC Heritage in 2018, Luke Donald has finished runner-up at both venues and two more Wyndham winners advertised the connection again this year.
Following yesterday's tied eighth, last year's Wyndham winner, J.T Poston, now has two top-tens at Harbour Town from just two visits and after an opening round of 70 and despite ranking 70 of 75 for Strokes Gained Putting, the 2012 Wyndham champion, Sergio Garcia, finished tied fifth yesterday.
The PGA Tour slides up the east coast and on to Connecticut this week for the Travelers Championship and I'll be back late tonight or tomorrow morning with the preview.
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