GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the RBC Heritage.
RBC Heritage | 15th-18th April 2021 | Sky Sports
The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina for the usual post-Masters event at Harbour Town, the RBC Heritage.
Hideki Matsuyama won in style at Augusta to become Japan's first-ever major champion and on a frustrating Sunday from a betting perspective, we managed to secure yet another place with Patrick Reed finishing inside the top-8.
But what will it take to win this week? This Pete Dye design is a test of patience and strategy, lending a hand to those supremely accurate ball-strikers and those with an elite short game. These Bermuda greens are tiny and fast, so if you miss them, you better hope you can get up and down.
As is the case every time we come to a Dye track, form at his other venues must be considered, as well as other coastal courses, ranging from Sea Island to Waialae, whilst Sedgefield (the Wyndham) is always a nice one to look to.
I think most of the favourites at the front of the market are opposable here. World no.1 Dustin Johnson arrives after an abysmal defence of his Green Jacket, whilst there are some doubts over Patrick Cantlay, though Webb Simpson looks a good shout to defend here, his price is far too short.
Instead, I'll start the plan with two names a little further back in Tyrrell Hatton (25/1 William Hill)
and Will Zalatoris (28/1 William Hill)
, both of whom I am convinced are due a win imminently.
Avid readers of this preview should remember us being on Hatton's first American scalp, when he won the Arnold Palmer in 2020 – he has won again twice since then on the European Tour and looks a great price to double his tally across the pond. Since the end of 2019, when he won the Turkish Airlines, he has won an event worldwide every seven outings – his last one was eight starts ago, so he's certainly due.
Over the last 24 rounds of golf, the Englishman ranks 7th in this field for SG on Approach, whilst we know his short game is up there with the very best when he's on it. He made the cut at the Masters and finished T18; that should not have taken much out of him. I think he could come here and tear it up just like at Bay Hill.
Zalatoris, on the other hand, is yet to win on the PGA Tour but was Matsyuama's nearest challenger on Sunday. What a win that would've been to kickstart your career.
The young American has only played 15 events since his US Open exemption (where he finished T6 at a super tough Winged Foot) and he is ultimately still without a Tour card but his form his keeping him in at this stage.
To get one? He must win, so there's added motivation and that makes these odds appealing. I know we backed Matthew Fitzpatrick at Augusta last week but you cannot be having Zalatoris at bigger odds, it just does not make sense.
In those 15 events, he's missed just one cut, and his worst finish in the 14 other events is a T55. Along with that impressive runner-up at the Masters, the 24-year-old has a top-10 at the API, T7 at the Farmers (Torrey Pines) and a T5 at the Shriners (TPC Summerlin) – that last venue being a place that defending champ Simpson has won.
Over the last 24 rounds, Zalatoris is 3rd in this field for Greens in Regulation, 4th for SG:APP, 6th for par-5 scoring. His around-the-green game is a little hit and miss but to finish 2nd at Augusta, you'll have to be in form in that department, that's for sure.
Next up is Pete Dye dragon Si Woo Kim (40/1 SkyBet)
. All three of his PGA Tour wins have come at his tracks – 2016 at Sedgefield (Wyndham), 2017 at TPC Sawgrass (The PLAYERS) and most recently the AmEx (PGA West). And back in 2018, he came close. to clinching this very event, losing in a playoff to Satoshi Kodaira.
He now arrives here in great nick and perhaps buoyed by Mats' win on Sunday. In his last three events, the South Korean was 9th at the PLAYERS, 23rd at the Valero Texas and then 12th at the Masters – not to mention that he finished his round on Friday by putting with his three-wood after snapping his flat-stick in two by the side of the 15th green.
His ball-striking and short game are exactly where they need to be, whilst he's proving to avoid bogies (4th over last 24 rounds). The price is a little skinny, but I prefer him over most in this range, though I will be gutted if Tommy Fleetwood breaks his duck here as he was the last one off my list in this range.
Russell Henley (50/1 William Hill)
is another who looks like he's bubbling towards delivering another win. He may have missed the cut at Sawgrass but bounced back with a third at the Honda. He missed the Masters so is coming here fresher than quite a few members of this field. That could help him.
His 11th at the Sony Open (Waialae) and T9 at the Wyndham (Sedgefield) stand out as some of his best performances since last summer and that correlates well to here.
Henley has been a little wayward off the tee for several events but he'll be able to club down here and play to his biggest strength – those irons. Typically, he's reliable with the putter and has a pretty solid short game, if he matches that or merely performs slightly above his mean, then he could well outplay odds of 50s.
I'll end the staking plan with a pair of long-priced darts in Doug Ghim (125/1 SkyBet)
and Patton Kizzire, (150/1 kyBet)
. One name who nearly made this list was Matthew NeSmith, having backed him already a few times this year but when in contention he falters, and I'd like to see a glimmer of that changing before jumping aboard.
Ghim was part of the same Walker Cup side as Zalatoris, USPGA champion Collin Morikawa and recent WGC runner-up Scottie Scheffler but is yet to show the same sort of potential as any of those names – until now.
At Sawgrass he flashed with impressive rounds on Friday and Saturday, before a 78 on Sunday thwarted him down to T25th, whilst his best-ever finish on the PGA Tour came at the Dye-designed PGA West (the AmEx) earlier this year.
Both these trips suggest he has a liking for this test and at triple-figure odds, he's surely worth a punt. He's fairly accurate off the tee, is solid with his approach play and has a very dependable short game – it's just the putting, and we only need that one good week with the flatstick to see him contend.
I'm taking a risk here with Kizzire but it's one I'm happy to do at these odds. He's very much a streaky sort and you never know what side of the fence you're getting with him, though you cannot ignore the fact that he's a two-time PGA Tour winner. More than what many in this field could say.
Both of those tour victories have come on coastal tracks at the Sony Open and at Mayakoba (El Camaleon). Last time out, he continued a nice run of form that has seen him miss just one cut in 14 events with a T9 at the Valero Texas. He finished second overall for SG:APP, better than the winner that week, Jordan Spieth.
Both have their downsides but are certainly worth chancing at such big odds.
RBC Heritage – Tyrrell Hatton (25/1 each-way William Hill)
RBC Heritage – Will Zalatoris (28/1 each-way William Hill)
RBC Heritage – Si Woo Kim (40/1 each-way SkyBet)
RBC Heritage – Russell Henley (50/1 each-way William Hill
RBC Heritage – Doug Ghim (125/1 each-way SkyBet)
RBC Heritage – Patton Kizzire (150/1 each-way SkyBet)