After an intense, pressure-packed week at the season’s first major – The Masters – where Tiger Woods won his first grand slam event in 11 years, fifth green jacket and 15th major overall, it’s time to decompress.
And what better place to decompress than the family-friendly island of Hilton Head, S.C., for the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage?
That certainly isn’t to say things won’t be intense when the tees go in the ground on Thursday morning. They will be. But there’s just something about the low country that puts you in that relaxing mood, the perfect venue the week after a major.
But if you thought the RBC Heritage field would suffer with the Masters having ended on Sunday, you’d be wrong. Dustin Johnson is there. Francesco Molinari is there. Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Xander Shauffele, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau are all there.
So which player will be slipping into the famous plaid jacket come Sunday evening adjacent to the iconic Harbour Town lighthouse?
We posed that question to three caddies who are on the ground in Hilton Head. To protect their identity, the caddies made their three respective picks anonymously. Here are the players they like and why…
- Dustin Johnson. “The South Carolina native is No. 1 in the world and comes in this week after a T2 at the Masters. In his last five stroke-play events, DJ’s worst finish is a T9 at the Genesis Open… and he won the next week in the WGC-Mexico Championship.”
- Matt Kuchar. “He’s been the best player on Tour so far this season with two wins already – Mayakoba and Sony – as well as second at the Match Play. Now he heads to Harbour Town for a tournament he’s won before (2014). He’s had poor decisions off the course, but I think that’ll be hidden now with all the attention on Tiger winning the green jacket.”
- Johnathan Byrd. “Being a Clemson grad and back in South Carolina means he can only draw off the crowd’s energy. He had his best finish of the season – T4 – a couple of weeks back in Puntacana, so I think he’ll be riding some confidence, too.”
- Matt Kuchar. “He’s just a hard player to bet against this season. He’s No. 1 in the FedExCup standings, thanks largely to two early wins, and then had the runner-up finish at the Match Play. All told, he’s finished inside the top 25 in eight of his 12 starts. I like him this week because he’s hot and because it’s on a course where he’s won before.”
- Xander Schauffele. “The 25-year-old has been a stud since his first season on the PGA Tour – 2017 – which yielded two victories, including the Tour Championship, and took home Rookie of the Year honors. He was right in the mix last week at the Masters, but wound up finishing T2. Remarkably, that was Xander’s fourth top-6 finish in just eight major starts. He’s a two-time winner already this season with victories at the HSBC-Champions in China, along with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Another win is coming soon.”
- Si Woo Kim. “He’s having a nice season to this point. And with the way he plays, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t won since the 2017 Players Championship. He looked to be in control at the Valero Texas Open, but faded to a T4 on Sunday with a final round 72. I think he’s on the verge of another win, which would be the third of his PGA Tour career. So why not this week?”
- Webb Simpson. “He might have some unfinished business at the Heritage that dates back to 2013 when he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell. He also tied for 11th there in 2017 and finished T5 in 2018. The course clearly fits his eye. I’m also encouraged by last week’s T5 in the Masters, his best finish at Augusta National, which included a sizzling round of 64 on Saturday.”
- Matt Kuchar. “A player that’s hard to pick against at the moment. Two wins. A runner up. He’s 40 years old and playing arguably the best golf of his career.”
- Dustin Johnson. “When you’re the world No. 1, you’re a favorite every week.”