The RBC Heritage is still in its traditional post-Masters spot on the schedule, but now with a new boost as one of this season’s designated events.
Located just 130 miles from Augusta National, the RBC Heritage been a staple on TOUR since 1969. The tournament has a reputation for offering a relaxing trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry after the stress of the year’s first major. Players can’t ease up with another strong field to face, however.
Masters champion Jon Rahm, PLAYERS champion Scottie Scheffler and world No. 5 Max Homa will add to their limited history at Harbour Town this week. Rahm’s only appearance in the RBC Heritage came in 2020, while Scheffler will be making his tournament debut.
They’ll be facing a course that makes up for its lack of length with tight fairways and the TOUR’s tiniest greens. Harbour Town’s famed finishing hole, flush against the Calibogue Sound, is one of the most scenic settings on TOUR, with the famed red-and-white lighthouse standing sentry over the green.
The winner will hoist the trophy on Harbour Town’s 18th green with the satisfaction that he beat the best players in the game on a classic layout that offers a distinctive test.
FIELD NOTES: Masters champion Jon Rahm headlines the field. He returned to No. 1 in the world with his win in the FedExCup and has a 786-point lead in the FedExCup… The top 30 players in the FedExCup standings (as of April 8) are all in the field, as are 41 of the top 50. … Jordan Spieth returns to the RBC Heritage to defend his title from a year ago. Spieth is coming off a T4 finish at Augusta National… Patrick Cantlay, who Spieth defeated in a playoff to win in 2022, will also be back in the field. Cantlay has four top-10s in five appearances at Harbour Town, including three top-threes. He finished T14 at last week’s Masters… Justin Thomas will be looking to right the ship after missing the Masters cut. Thomas has two finishes of 11th or better in four Heritage appearances… Will Zalatoris withdrew after announcing he had undergone a successful back surgery… Nine of the world’s top 10 will be in action in South Carolina… Min Woo Lee, ranked No. 48 in the world, is playing as he looks to earn Special Temporary Membership. Lee finished T6 at THE PLAYERS… Previous Heritage winners in the field include five-time Heritage winner Davis Love III, three-time champion Stewart Cink, Satoshi Kodaira, C.T. Pan and Webb Simpson.
SPONSOR EXEMPTIONS: Ernie Els and two-time Heritage champion Jim Furyk are back on the PGA TOUR. Els hasn’t played a non-major on TOUR since the 2020 RBC Heritage (but won the Hoag Classic on PGA TOUR Champions earlier this year)… Akshay Bhatia is teeing it up again on the PGA TOUR. Bhatia, who just accepted Special Temporary Membership after his runner-up result at the Puerto Rico Open, won The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour last year. He has made six of seven cuts this season, including three top-25s… Luke Donald, the European Ryder Cup captain and five-time runner-up at Harbour Town, is teeing it up… Wesley Bryan, who won the plaid jacket in 2017, will be in the field. Bryan notched his first top-10 result on the PGA TOUR since 2017 when he finished sixth in Puerto Rico… Justin Suh, off of a fabulous Player of the Year campaign on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022, will be making his Heritage debut. Suh has two top-10 finishes so far this season, including a sixth at THE PLAYERS.
1. MASTERS MOVES
The Masters marks the first major championship of the season, and the RBC Heritage will be the first designated event to be played immediately following one of golf’s Grand Slam events. It will be fascinating to see if some of the big names who contended at Augusta National – like Rahm, Spieth (T4), Russell Henley (T4), Cameron Young (T7) and Viktor Hovland (T7) — can keep the momentum at Harbour Town. Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa formed a star-studded group that finished T10 at Augusta National.
2. DESIGNATED HITTERS
The designated events have already produced a star-studded roster of winners. The winners prior to Augusta National have been Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, who have won two designated events apiece this season, as well as Kurt Kitayama and Sam Burns. All but Kitayama were ranked in the top 15 in the world ranking when they won. Given the inexperience at Harbour Town for the likes of Scheffler, Rahm and others, keep an eye on another top player to contend at the latest designated event on the TOUR schedule.
3. A NEW ERA FOR WEBB SIMPSON
Webb Simpson, who won the RBC Heritage in 2020, has had eight top-25s in 13 appearances at Harbour Town. This year, however, will be the start of a new era. He and long-time caddie Paul Tesori concluded their 12-year partnership after the Valspar Championship. Tesori helped Simpson to the winner’s circle on the PGA TOUR seven times, including THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open.
Tesori began working with reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Cameron Young at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Young finished second there, then contended at Augusta National.
Highest-Rated Players in the Field
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
COURSE: Harbour Town Golf Links, par 71, 7,121 yards (yardage subject to change). The Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus design has hosted the RBC Heritage since the 1960s and continues to challenge the best golfers in the world with its small and contoured putting surfaces, overhanging mossy oaks, tight fairways, and strategically placed bunkers.
Look for an elite ball striker – or someone who has an elite ball-striking week – to be near the top of the leaderboard again come Sunday. Both of the winners at Harbour Town the last two years (Jordan Spieth and Stewart Cink) were first at week’s end in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
72-HOLE RECORD: 262, Webb Simpson (2020)
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, David Frost (2nd round, 1994), Troy Merritt (2nd round, 2015).
LAST TIME: Jordan Spieth topped Patrick Cantlay in a playoff to win his 13th PGA TOUR title. Spieth fired a final-round 66 at Harbour Town and ended up tied with Cantlay at 13 under through 72 holes. Both golfers hit their approach shots into the greenside bunker on No. 18, the first playoff hole, but Spieth knocked his bunker shot to just 7 inches. Cantlay made bogey from the bunker.
Spieth made eagles on both par-5s on the front nine Sunday to put the pedal down early. He also made birdie on No. 18 in regulation to get to 13 under. When he finished, he was a shot back of Shane Lowry. But Lowry chipped into the water on No. 14 and made double bogey. He finished tied for third, a shot out of the playoff, alongside six others including Cameron Young, who would go on to win PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors.
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