The leading contenders at the Masters after-party – The RBC Heritage

The PGA Tour trundles on from the heightened tension of the year’s first Major Championship to the more relaxed vibe of Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.

If a Masters in April felt like a return to normality, then the PGA Tour's journey to Harbour Town a week later is equally comforting.

The course sneaks between trees on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, emerging at the end of its journey to see the ocean.

It's a different test to Augusta National, a gentler one in many senses, but not without difficulties and it has always tended to favour accurate ball-strikers with a smart short game - the consequence of those tight trees and some very small greens.

The field is good this week and plenty of those among the favourites will have much to prove after under-achieving last week in Georgia, but do they have what it takes to bounce back this week?

Let's take a closer look at the players at the top of the market.

Dustin Johnson

He's the World No. 1 and no-one reaches those heights without being able to play exceptional golf pretty much anywhere. Moreover, he's proved it on this track when taking a one shot lead into the final round in 2019.

But it is also a truth that he carded a Sunday 77 that year to finish T28th and he is yet to land a top 10 after five visits. Why would he do something different this particular week?

Especially, it might be said, a week after he surrendered his Green Jacket with a missed cut that was also a fourth consecutive failure to finish in the top 30.

Best price 12/1 with Unibet.

Patrick Cantlay

Cantlay outdid Johnson in the underwhelming ranks last week and presents a tricky proposition for punters this week.

His rounds of 79-73 were poor and his previous two laps of strokeplay, at TPC Sawgrass, were an almost-as-bad 74-75. Both times, unsurprisingly, he didn't play the weekend.

Cantlay has lost his mojo in recent weeks.
Cantlay has lost his mojo in recent weeks.

In-between, however, he played his first two group matches at the WGC Dell Match Play in 14-under. Brilliant golf but even then he found a way of not playing at the weekend.

Then there is his startlingly good course record: third in 2017 and 2019, seventh in 2018. It confounding stuff - a true riddle.

Best price 16/1 with Paddy Power.

Collin Morikawa

The youngster had his problems at Augusta last week, but he also proved his quality by improving on his first start.

He didn't break 70 when T44th in November on debut at the Masters, but a second round 69 helped him land T18th last week.

And this week's test should be right up his street, given that there are few players in the world who compare to his brilliance with the long game and approach shots in particular.

His tournament debut was okay (three sub-70s in finishing T64th). But the fact that his long game numbers were down on their usual highs might prompt some to wait for further confirmation that the notion he's a good fit for the course matches reality.

Best price 20/1 with Unibet.

Cameron Smith

There's plenty to like about the Aussie this week.

There's his form: not outside the top 20 in his last four strokeplay starts, including T11th at WGC level, T17th in the "fifth major" and T10th last week in the Masters.

The problem? His course form. It's really quite odd and his results are not even getting better - in fact they are regressing! He's gone T15th-T29th-T-32nd-MC-MC.

There's where he has won: twice at the blustery, seaside, tree-lined Royal Pines in Australia and then also at Waialae in the Sony Open, another venue that shares many similarities with Harbour Town.

Best price 25/1 with Paddy Power.

Daniel Berger

Berger first visited Harbour Town in 2015 and didn't have a great weekend, finishing 72nd.

But in the last two years he has thrived there. His T33rd in 2019 doesn't suggest as much, but he was T3rd at halfway and he proved that was no fluke by ending the week in the same position in 2020.

A winner at Pebble Beach this year, T7th at Waialae in January, T9th at Sawgrass (designed by Pete Dye, like this week's course) - it's all good news.

You just need to forgive him the missed cut last week at Augusta when he occasionally looked a little frazzled.

Best price 22/1 with Unibet.

Tyrrell Hatton

It seems that plenty of those discussed so far have had much in the locker to put us off. Maybe, with Hatton, we're getting closer to the ticking all the boxes?

On debut at the track in 2017 he was T9th heading into the final round before finishing T29th. After a missed cut in 2018, he returned last year to open with a 71 before flying home on a wet sail (64-63-66) to land third.

Tyrrell Hatton posts career best at Augusta National

He started the year well with victory in Abu Dhabi and sixth in Saudi Arabia before heading backwards. But his T18th last week at Masters was comfortably his best effort there in five tries. Maybe not quite the full package (the form iffy), but getting there.

Best price 25/1 with Bet365.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

The Sheffield-born and bred Englishman is something of a local this week because he and his family were regular visitors to the island on holiday and he even visited the event, dreaming he might win it.

That said, he's yet to entirely suggest that will happen. This will be his seventh start and his best remains T14th, but he has landed that result twice in his last three appearances and last year he spent most of the week in the top 10.

Still seeking a first win on the PGA Tour, but landed four top 12s in a row in February and March, and was T34th at the Masters last week.

Best price 30/1 with William Hill.

READ MORE: Bryson DeChambeau baffled by Augusta but could still be a Major force this year

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