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Power Rankings: RBC Heritage

by Amy Huang |

Almost half the field of the Masters (42 of 88 as of Monday afternoon) are committed to the annual stop at Harbour Town Golf Links. A similarly strong field seized on the opportunity on what was just the second tournament of the Return to Golf last summer. For a brief recap of the records established, the new wrinkle this week’s field will experience and more, continue reading beneath the projected contenders.



15 Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson
The Palmetto State native has yet to crack the top 15 in five tries at Harbour Town, but he has a pair of top 20s. He’s also the world’s top-ranked talent, albeit in a mini-slump at the moment.
14 Harris English Harris English
Rekindled form with a T21 at the Masters to end a drought without a top 25 at six consecutive starts. So many weapons in the bag. Also hung up top 25s in last two editions of the RBC Heritage.
13 Kevin Streelman Kevin Streelman
Three top 10s and a T17 in his last seven trips to Harbour Town. Trio of top 25s in 2021 includes a survival of the Group Stage at the Match Play. Ranks 17th in greens in regulation.
12 Ian Poulter Ian Poulter
After surviving the Group Stage of the Match Play, he placed T26 at the Masters, so he’s percolating. Perfect in 10 trips to Harbour Town with five top 20s, including in each of the last four editions.
11 Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar
Horse for a course who’s made noise of late (third, Match Play; T12, Valero). Since 2004, he’s 16-for-16 at Harbour Town with a win (2014) and a second (2019) among six top 10s and 10 top 25s.
10 Abraham Ancer Abraham Ancer
Five top 25s and a T26 (Masters) in 2021. Second on TOUR in fairways hit and 14th in GIR. Co-led 2020 edition in accuracy and led in GIR and proximity en route to a runner-up finish.
9 Cameron Smith Cameron Smith
Broke 70 “only” once in last week’s Masters, but he still finished T10. One top 25 at Harbour Town came in 2015 debut (T15). Positioned 14th in adjusted scoring and No. 1 in par-5 scoring.
8 Matt Fitzpatrick Matt Fitzpatrick
Couldn’t get anything going at the Masters and finished T34. Top 20s in prior six starts worldwide, three going for at top 10. Ranks 17th on TOUR in fairways hit. Two T14s at Harbour Town.
7 Tyrrell Hatton Tyrrell Hatton
Fresh off a backdoor top 20 at the Masters for his sixth top 20 in eight events worldwide in 2021. Among the 54-hole quad-leaders here last year and finished T3. Sits T14 in proximity to the hole.
6 Will Zalatoris Will Zalatoris
The only tournament debutant slotted, but inexperience hasn’t mattered all season. Harbour Town is a superb fit. Slots fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green.
5 Brian Harman Brian Harman
Played and thrived in a trio of high-stress events of late. PLAYERS’ T3 got him into the Match Play. That T5 sprung him into the Masters where he finished T12. Two top 10s at Harbour Town.
4 Patrick Cantlay Patrick Cantlay
Despite stroke-play inconsistency of late, a strong showing in the Group Stage of the Match Play is encouraging. He’s gone T3-T7-T3 here (2017-2019) with a scoring average of 68.50.
3 Daniel Berger Daniel Berger
Finished T3 here immediately after opening the Return to Golf with victory at Colonial. Among the most consistently strong since with another six top 10s, the most recent a T9 at THE PLAYERS.
2 Corey Conners Corey Conners
Showcased skill set by ranking third in GIR for a second top 10 at the Masters (T8) this season. Currently 10th on TOUR in GIR. Sat one shot off the 36-hole lead here last year and finished T21.
1 Webb Simpson Webb Simpson
Sat No. 2 in last year’s Power Rankings and won the thing, so this position is his until he’s bounced. His career record here also includes a P2 in 2013 and another five top-20 finishes.

Recent World Golf Championship winners Billy Horschel (Match Play) and Collin Morikawa (Workday) will be included in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider with Sungjae Im, Kevin Kisner, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and other notables.

If you ever wondered what the strongest field in tournament history could do to Harbour Town, the scheduling adjustments triggered by the pandemic presented the case in 2020.

The Official World Golf Ranking determined the 2020 RBC Heritage to have a strength-of-field rating of 647. It was the eighth-highest of all tournaments worldwide last year, but even though there were far fewer events conducted, consider that the last three editions of the RBC Heritage were valued at 280 (2017), 342 (2018) and 430 (2019).


The field averaged an all-time low of 69.137 on the par 36-35—71. Since data was first maintained in earnest in 1983, the previous record was 70.490 in 2015. Not surprisingly, Webb Simpson’s winning pace of 22-under 262 also established a tournament record. He offset five bogeys with an eagle and 25 birdies. The 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties landed at 4-under 138.

To accommodate playing time for as many as possible, last year’s tournament reserved space for 144 golfers, but it went final at 151 because of the unprecedented commitment of eligible qualifiers for the invitational. This year’s edition has reverted to its customary space of 132, but at the time this went to publish, the field was 135 strong. So, alternates will not be called unless it drops below 132.

Whether it was the depth of the field or its first-ever June date that yielded record scoring, that question might be answered in the return to its normal April slot. Unnecessary in June, the TifEagle bermuda greens are overseeded as usual for the April staging. They’re only 3,700 square feet on average and they could run up to 12-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. The only rough, also overseeded bermuda, tops at just three-quarters of an inch.

Because of slow growth due to a harsher winter, the bomb-and-gouge crowd could crash the party perennially reserved for shot-makers, but at just 7,121 yards and always averaging among the shortest in distance of all drives, the Davids in the field have as terrific a chance as any to slingshot around the Goliaths.

The entirety of the walk represents and increase of 22 yards on the par-3 17th hole. Thanks to a larger tee box, it now can stretch to 196 yards.

The elements almost always play a supporting role in the outcome, and this week should be no different. Moderate winds out of the west on Thursday and Sunday will sandwich equally fresh breezes off the coast to the east on Friday and Saturday, but course experience hasn’t mattered as much in recent years as it did in the more distant past, anyway. Controlled low ball flights is preferred and putting takes a backseat to precision on approach. Rain could fall on the weekend, but scoring should be balanced until then.


Source: PGA Tour