Kuchar and Spieth Heritage favourites
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 RBC Heritage | Preview | 16 Apr 2014
The traditional follow up event to the Masters, the RBC Heritage, will again take that place in the schedule when it is played this week at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head in South Carolina, the biggest disappointment for the organisers being the late withdrawal of Jason Day.
The event dates back to 1969 when Arnold Palmer won by three shots and ever since most of the game’s are represented on the winner’s list perhaps reflecting the quality of an outstanding Pete and Alice Dye designed layout both of who were assisted by input from Jack Nicklaus who was a winner in 1975.
Day has withdrawn as a result of what appears to be a precautionary decision on his thumb injury, wanting to make sure he gives it further time to recover. His effort to finish 21st last week was impressive given the thumb was clearly still a concern.
Day’s withdrawal leaves Matt Kuchar as the leading world ranked player in the field and although he has seldom contended in this event he has made nine of ten cuts and must surely be deserving of a victory given the amount of times he has been in contention of late. Mind you golf does not always give to those who deserve but those who earn and with three consecutive Sunday struggles of late then he will need to reverse a trend.
Jordan Spieth finished 9th on debut last year and provided he has recovered from a gruelling Sunday at Augusta National then his chances are very good. In the 12 months since his top ten last year Spieth has developed into one of the game’s best players and is now 9th in the world ranking.
Course specialist, Luke Donald, appears to me as if he is approaching his best once again and although he narrowly missed the cut last week his effort was not as bad as that result suggests. Donald and Harbour Town get along just fine, the Englishman finishing inside the top 3 in four of his last five starts. If ever there was a time for him to win his first PGA Tour event in more than two years then this is it.
Jim Furyk is another who has played well here and whose game is coming around. Furyk won at Harbour Town in 2010 and has been runner-up twice. Furyk appears on the verge of another victory and given his liking for this layout it might just be this week.
Charley Hoffman might be one for longer odds. He has played solidly enough this season without doing anything too spectacular but he has been 8th and 6th in his last two starts in this event and deserves consideration.
The Heritage Classic under its various naming right sponsors has been good to Australians over the years beginning with Graham Marsh’s first and only PGA Tour victory in 1977. Greg Norman, Peter Lonard and Aaron Baddeley have also won around the, in many ways, Australian style layout.
This year seven get their chance to add to that record. Marc Leishman, Aaron Baddeley, Steven Bowditch, Geoff Ogilvy, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Greg Chalmers will tee it up as will New Zealanders Danny Lee and Tim Wilkinson.