Saturday, April 29, 2017

Power Rankings: 2017 RBC Heritage

The 2017 fantasy golf season heads to the lowcountry this week, as the focus of the golf world shifts to South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. A field of 132 players will tackle Harbour Town Golf Links, with the winner donning the plaid jacket.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week’s event.

Branden Grace won this event last year by two shots over Russell Knox and Luke Donald. Here are 10 players to watch in Hilton Head:

1. Matt Kuchar: Fresh off a backdoor T-4 finish at the Masters, Kuchar returns to the site of his most recent victory back in 2014. He hasn’t fallen out of the top 10 since, with a T-5 finish in 2015 and a T-9 result last year, and his solid tee-to-green game typically pays off in a big way amid the cozy confines of Harbour Town.

2. Russell Henley: The Georgia native is officially on a hot streak, having backed up his win in Houston with a T-11 finish at the Masters that earned him an invite back next year. Henley is notoriously streaky, especially on the greens, and his Harbour Town track record is highlighted by a T-6 finish in 2013. With six top-20 finishes in his last nine starts, there’s no reason to expect he’ll slow down now.

3. Luke Donald: He’s no longer playing like the No. 1 ranking he once held, but Donald has done everything but win this event over the last decade. Six top-3 finishes in his last eight starts, including a T-2 finish last year, make the Englishman a player to watch this week, especially since he flashed some game at Riviera (T-17) and PGA National (T-27).

4. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman was impressive for much of last week while dealing with the spotlight of leader, and he has been surprisingly consistent along the Calibogue Sound. Hoffman has compiled three top-15 finishes in the last five years at this event, and he now has five top-25 finishes over his last seven overall starts.

5. Branden Grace: The defending champ is known for his long game, but clearly he has an affinity with the strategy required to find the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. Grace tied for seventh in his Harbour Town debut in 2015 before last year’s victory, the latter of which came off a Masters missed cut. This time, he finished T-27 at Augusta National.

6. Jim Furyk: Furyk was unable to defend his title last year because of injury, but his accurate play off the tee has often set him up well at this particular event. Dating back to 2005, he has racked up seven top-10 finishes including a pair of wins and a pair of runner-up finishes. Don’t be surprised if he adds to either tally this week.

7. Brandt Snedeker: A winner here in 2011, Snedeker hasn’t cracked the top 10 since and actually missed the cut last year. But he, like Grace, put up a solid T-27 finish at the Masters and has shown before that he has the style of game to tame Harbour Town, especially if his streaky putter begins to cooperate.

8. Tyrrell Hatton: Hatton was a popular sleeper pick for the Masters but surprisingly missed the cut after rounds of 80-78. He’ll hope to follow in Grace’s footsteps by working his way into contention, and there’s reason to think he will considering his early exit at Augusta National interrupted a run of seven straight worldwide top-15 finishes.

9. Matthew Fitzpatrick: Another Englishman makes the list as Fitzpatrick looks to channel the form that put him in the mix at Bay Hill a few weeks ago. He is making his third start here, having finished T-23 in his 2014 debut, and lists Harbour Town as his favorite stop on the Tour calendar. He’s made six straight cuts and doesn’t need length off the tee to contend here.

10. Adam Hadwin: The Canadian hasn’t really slowed down since earning his first career win at Innisbrook last month, a course like Harbour Town that requires precision off the tee and into the green. Hadwin finished T-6 at Bay Hill the very next week, took some time off to get married and promptly returned with a respectable T-36 showing in his Masters debut. Finished T-30 here last year.


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