Avoid Masters contenders and look for big price winners
Cink won in 2021 at 150.0149/1; C.T Pan in 2019 @ 460.0459/1
Field packed with World's top 20
The late great Arnold Palmer won the inaugural staging of the RBC Heritage back in 1969 so this will be the 55th edition of the tournament.
We may get one or two withdrawals after last week's US Masters marathon but the field is ridiculously strong with LIV golfer, Cam Smith, the only player in the world's top-20 not in the line-up.
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina
Par 71, 7,191 yards. Stroke Index in 2022 - 70.74
Assisted by Jack Nicklaus, Hilton Head was designed by Pete Dye, who also designed Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, and it's always been the event's venue, so there's plenty of course form to go on.
The fairways aren't overly narrow, but you do need to find the right spots on them to attack the tiny Bermuda greens that usually run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
The course played slightly longer last year as both the par five second and the par five fifth were lengthened by 50 and 20 yards respectively.
It's one of the players favourite stop-offs on the PGA Tour and it's very easy on the eye.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 12:00 UK time on Thursday.
Last Seven Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2022 - Jordan Spieth -13 50.049/1 (playoff)
2021 - Stewart Cink -19 120.0119/1
2020 - Webb Simpson 32.031/1
2019 - C.T Pan -12 460.0459/1
2018 - Satoshi Kodaira -12 500.0499/1 (playoff)
2017 - Wesley Bryan -13 200.0199/1
2016 - Branden Grace -9 44.043/1
What Will it Take to Win the RBC Heritage?
The 2021 winner, Stewart Cink, ranked third for Driving Distance but this is a strategical track and Driving Distance is usually an irrelevant stat.
The best any of the previous ten winners had ranked for DD was 31st, the seven winners before Cink ranked 33rd, 55th, 65th, 51st, 37th, 75th and 56th and last year's victor, Jordan Spieth, ranked 45th.
Historically, Driving Accuracy has been of more importance than distance. When the 2018 winner, Satoshi Kodaira, ranked fourth for D.A he was the seventh winner in ten years to rank inside the top-ten but that stat appears as irrelevant as Driving Distance now.
The last four winners have ranked 31st, 57th, 33rd and 55th for DA and the two winners before Kodaira - Wesley Bryan and Branden Grace - ranked only 55th and 57th. The rough is minimal and missed fairways aren't a disaster.
Kodaira ranked seventh for Greens In Regulation five years ago and, as was the case with D.A, that was the seventh time in ten years that the winner had ranked inside the top-ten but again, it doesn't appear to be as an essential stat as it once was.
Last year's playoff protagonists, Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, ranked ninth and first and the 2021 winner, Cink, also topped the GIR rankings but the 2020 winner, Webb Simpson, only ranked 12th, the 2019 winner, C.T Pan, ranked 37th and Wesley Bryan ranked 66th in 2017.
Putting used to be the go-to skillset, with six of the seven winners between 2006 and 2012 having a Putting Average ranking of sixth or better and prior to last year it looked like being a key stat once again.
Cink had a Putting Average ranking of seventh and the two winners before him ranked third and second but the six winners between 2013 and 2018 ranked only 24th, 36th, 11th, 21st, 16th and 47th and Spieth putted deplorably last year.
When asked what he was most proud of in terms of his performance his answer was unequivocable.
"Well, I won this golf tournament without a putter!"
And he wasn't wrong. Spieth's putting stats really were incredible. He ended the week ranking 60th for Strokes Gained Putting with a -2.55 strokes gained figure, which was the worst SG putting number by a PGA Tour winner since Sean O'Hair in 2009 at Quail Hollow (-3.29).
He also ranked 37th for putts Per round and 40th for Putting Average but he did rank highly for the two most essential stats.
Spieth ranked first for Strokes Gained Tee-2-Green and sixth for Scrambling and they're the two key stats to consider.
The last six winners have ranked first, sixth, seventh, 11th, seventh and first for SGT2G and although the 2019 and 2020 winners only ranked 27th and 16th for Scrambling, I'd still consider that the most important traditional stat to ponder.
These greens are smaller than average, and everyone is going to miss plenty of them so getting up-and-down to save par is crucial.
The front three in 2021 ranked fourth, second and third for Scrambling and in 12 of the last 14 years, whoever has topped the Scrambling stats for the week has finished inside the top-ten. And seven years ago, eight of the top ten scramblers finished tied ninth or better.
Being a seaside links, Harbour Town is exposed and wind-affected so great wind exponents do well here year after year.
Is There an Angle In?
It's a bit more open than this track, but form at the Seaside Course, Sea Island, home of the RSM Classic, is well worth considering. It's only round the corner so it makes sense that it should correlate nicely and it does.
The first three RSM Classic winners all had a top-six finish here on their CVs and although there have only been 13 editions of that event, there are plenty of examples of players playing well at both tournaments.
For example, the 2020 winner of this event, Simpson, was beaten in extra time at Sea Island in 2019 and 2011 and Kevin Kisner, who was beaten in a playoff at the RSM Classic in 2020 also won the event in 2015, just months after losing in a playoff here.
It's a very similar exposed, wind-affected, seaside course so it's no surprise that form there stands up well here.
Other courses to consider are Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open in Hawaii, TPC Southwind, which hosts the FedEx St Jude in August and the Grand Reserve Country Club, home of the recent Puerto Rico Open.
Also, the Colonial Country Club, which hosts the Charles Schwab Challenge all correlate nicely, but arguably the best new correlating course is the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, home to the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
Although a terrible final round saw him finish tied for 48th, the 2022 Corales winner, Joel Dahman, was sitting just one off the lead with a round to go here in 2020.
This year's Corales winner, Matt Wallace, finished 18th here in 2021, having sat fourth through 54 holes and the 2018 edition of the Corales was won by the 2013 Heritage winner, Graeme McDowell.
And finally, although not a coastal course, and designed by Donald Ross and not Pete Dye, Sedgefield Country Club, host of the Wyndham Championship, also correlates superbly.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Dave Tindall spectacularly picked out the 2021 winner, Cink, at a juicy price and one of the reasons he picked out the former winner was his record in tournaments that immediately followed an appearance in a major championship (see below tweet) but he appears to be the exception rather than the rule here.
The US Masters was shifted to November in 2020 and this event was staged in June but prior to 2020, with the exception of 2011 and '12, this event has traditionally followed the year's first major since 1983 so I've looked at how the winners here had fared at Augusta on every occasion that this event has followed the US Masters this century below.
2022 - Jordan Spieth MC at Augusta
2021 - Stewart Cink - 12th
2019 - C.T Pan - Didn't play at the Masters
2018 - Satoshi Kodaira - 28th at Augusta
2017 - Wesley Bryan - Didn't play at the Masters
2016 - Branden Grace - MC at Augusta
2015 - Jim Furyk - MC at Augusta
2014 - Matt Kuchar - 5th at Augusta
2013 - Graeme McDowell - MC at Augusta
2010 - Jim Furyk - MC at Augusta
2009 - Brian Gay - Didn't play at the Masters
2008 - Boo Weekley - 20th at Augusta
2007 - Boo Weekley - Didn't play at the Masters
2006 - Aaron Baddeley - Didn't play at the Masters
2005 - Peter Lonard - MC at Augusta
2004 - Stewart Cink - 17th at Augusta
2003 - Davis Love - 15th at Augusta
2002 - Justin Leonard - 20th at Augusta
2001 - Jose Coceres - MC at Augusta
2000 - Stewart Cink - 28th at Augusta
Matt Kuchar's fifth at Augusta nine years ago is the result that stands out and the next best is Cink's 12th two years ago.
Every other winner here has either not played at Augusta, missed the cut at Augusta or finished no better than 15th. And it's perhaps worth highlighting that all those that have performed well here after a top-20 finish in the US Masters had very strong and usually winning form here anyway.
A high finish last week could be construed as a bit of a negative and it was his weekend of at Augusta that inspired last year's winner, Spieth.
"Last week was really a killer for me. My favourite tournament in the world (the US Masters), not getting to play on the weekend, so I tried to come in and work a little extra hard this week, and game felt in a good place, just needed to give myself a chance and it felt really good to make a putt that mattered on 18 in regulation."
Between 2016 and 2019, the four winners were aged either 27 or 28 and that was something of a change to the norm given prior to 2016, 12 of the previous 14 winners were in their 30s and that Jim Furyk was 44 when he won here in 2015.
Spieth was 28 when he won 12 months ago but Cink was 47 in 2021 so experience often counts for plenty at Harbour Town.
Harbour Town is a tricky track that doesn't suit everyone and course form used to stand up really well.
In its 54-year history, ten men have won the event more than once and Davis Love III has won it five times, but we have seen a few first time shock winners of late too.
Cink was a big price two years ago and C.T Pan was the third consecutive big outsider to take the title in 2019. Pan was also the fourth winner in-a-row winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2022 - Jordan Spieth - T9 - trailing by three 22.021/1
2021 - Stewart Cink - led by five 1.51/2
2020 - Webb Simpson - tied for the lead with three others 5.85/1
2019 - C.T Pan - T5 - trailing by two 36.035/1
2018 - Satoshi Kodaira - T12 - trailing by six 440.0439/1
2017 - Wesley Bryan - T6 - trailing by four 30.029/1
2016 - Branden Grace - T5 - trailing by three 15.014/1
Although Cink won from the front in 2021 and Simpson was tied at the top in 2020, this isn't an easy track to make the running.
The third-round leader in 2019, Dustin Johnson, having traded as short as 1.564/7 during round three, eventually finished tied for 28th and as you can see by the data above, this is a venue where many a winner comes from way off the pace.
Until 2020, we hadn't seen a 54-hole leader convert since 2012 and the winner had come from outside the final pairing every time since.
Pan was the seventh winner in-a-row to come from at least a couple of strokes adrift and although he was quite close to the lead compared to some winners, he was still unfancied and a 36.035/1 shot after three rounds.
Since Carl Pettersson converted from the front in 2012, and prior to Webb's win in 2020, the winners had trailed by four, four, four, three, four, six and two strokes, and Spieth was three adrift with traffic in front of him 12 months ago.
In addition to last year and the seven results before 2020, Brandt Snedeker also beat Luke Donald in a playoff in 2011, having trailed by six after 54 holes, but Cink easily trumps them all.
Back in 2004, when winning the second of his three titles, he came from an incredible nine shots back to win, so if your picks start slowly, don't give up on them and taking on the leaders with a round to go has been a profitable exercise in many a year.
The par five 15th is the last hole in the woods at Harbour Town and it's a tricky finish after that.
The par four 16th is a tough hole if the fairway is missed, and the exposed par three 17th trips up many a contender. The fairway is ridiculously generous on 18 but it's a tough second shot, even from the fairway so great rounds can untangle at the end quite easily.
The world number three, Rory McIlroy, has withdrawn following his deeply disappointing missed cut at Augusta last week but the top-two in the rankings are both here, one week and one year after winning their first Green Jackets.
Last year's Masters winner, Scottie Scheffler, has swapped places at the head of the market with the new world number one and brand-new Masters champ, Jon Rahm, but neither make much appeal.
After his tied 10th on Sunday (a very decent defence), Scheffler is playing Harbour Town for the first and Rahm is here for just the second occasion. He finished 33rd back in 2020.
Patrick Cantlay, who got plenty of stick last week because of his painfully slow play, is the only man trading at less than 20.019/1 in what is a really deep field and he's the most likely of last week's contenders to show up again here.
Cantlay, who slipped to a tie for 14th with a disappointing 75 on Sunday, has course form figures reading 3-7-3-MC-2 and he traded at a low of just 1.21/5 before losing to Spieth in extra time 12 months ago.
Matt Cooper makes a strong and amusing case for the stroppy but talented Tyrrell Hatton, and I was happy to chance him again this year, after backing him at a similar price 12 months ago.
As Matt highlights, Hatton's had a degree of success at Harbour Town, as well as other Pete Dye designed tracks but he's never played well at Augusta so last week's tied 34th was a reasonable enough performance.
Hatton has course form figures reading 29-MC-3-39-26 and prior to the WGC Match Play, he was in fine fettle with a strong run of form culminating in a runners-up finish at the Players Championship behind Scheffler.
I backed another of Matt's picks, J.T Poston, when the market first opened on Monday, and I had intended to include him in the Find Me a 100 Winner column later today, but he's shortened up to below 100.099/1 now and I'm not really surprised.
In fair form and with course form figures reading 6-8-MC-3, he's highly likely to contend and 110.0109/1 was always a bit too big, despite the strength of the field.
Tyrrell Hatton @ 60.059/1
J.T Poston @ 110.0109/1
I'll be back later today with the Find Me a 100 Winner column.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter