Don't pick your DFS lineup before reading Brian Rietveld's deep dive into the RBC Heritage data
Data geeks, let’s take a ride into the beautiful numbers of golf statistics that will help you pick out your winning daily fantasy lineup — or just impress your friends by predicting the Sunday leaderboard or picking the winner before the tournament starts — for the 2022 RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.
First, let's talk about the course set up. You will hear a million times this week about the size of Pete Dye’s amazing green complexes and rightfully so. The greens at Harbour Town are the second smallest on tour behind Pebble Beach Golf Links. You will hear that statistic ad nauseam this week from Sir Nick Faldo and the CBS crew, but it is a unique stat.
In an amazing contrast, the world’s best golfers play these itty-bitty Lowcountry greens the week after playing the massive 6,500 square-foot rollercoaster bentgrass greens in Augusta. Harbour Town’s bermuda grass greens average around 55 percent of the total size of those Alister MacKenzie masterpieces across the board.
So why does green size matter? Well, Harbour Town has a handful of defense systems in place for the days the wind does not blow. Hundred-year-old trees that block your golf ball like Dikembe Mutombo (finger wag), meandering water hazards that can end championship runs, and the bullseye-sized greens that the Goodyear Blimp cannot see.
This leads to the best iron players having great success in Sea Pines. Take a look at last year’s top three finishers at the RBC Heritage: Stewart Cink, Harold Varner III, and Emiliano Grillo. Cink gained 2.13 shots on approach during his historic week, while Varner III gained 1.28, and Grillo 1.77, against the field. Meanwhile, arguably the best iron player since Tiger Woods, Collin Morikawa gained nearly two shots against the Heritage field with his approach play in 2021, which landed him in a solid T7. The approach game is vital every week, but only four courses on tour have a stronger correlation to success than at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Shots Gained Approach: notables in the field
Russell Henley +1.1
Justin Thomas +0.90
Tom Hoge +.0.871
Cameron Smith +0.809
While Harbour Town Golf Links is short by modern PGA Tour standards at 7,100 yards, the course is not simply a driver-wedge course. Golfers must be surgical with their mid-irons. Harbour Town requires approximately 30% more shots from 175 to 200 yards than the average stop on tour. Again, this course is about the setup and angles. In fact, driving distance is completely neutralized as a correlation to success at the Heritage as there are only five courses where driving distance is less of an influence than at Harbour Town.
Approach 175-200 Yards (PGA Tour Rankings): notables in field
Cameron Smith - 1st
Abraham Ancer - 2nd
Justin Thomas - 3rd
Collin Morikawa - 7th
Lastly, many pundits will say par 4 scoring is the road to success this week. While par 4 scoring is definitely a recipe for success at Pete and Alice Dye’s masterpiece, I believe the winner will have fared well with the four very dangerous par 3s. Each of the devilish par 3s played over par last year and historically are the toughests holes in the tournament. Water comes into play on three of the four holes highlighted by the 4th hole where a 200 yard carry over a gator occupied lagoon coaxes even the best players in the world bailing to the right of the green. Meanwhile Holes 14 and 17 are the gems of the par 3 collection and can paralyze a solid day’s work if the golfer fails to flight their ball into stiff breezes that tend to fire up on Saturday and Sunday.
Par 3 Scoring (PGA Rankings): notables in the field
Tom Hoge - 1st
Tyler Duncan - 2nd
Joaquin Niemann - 7th
Aaron Wise - 7th
Before you start plugging in names to your local golf pools or a daily fantasy contest, take a look at the numbers in the categories. Find combinations of golfers within these three fields along with accurate drivers and you will be cashing your ticket or lording over your friends and family for the next year with your superior golf knowledge.
GO EVEN DEEPER WITH OUR 2022 RBC HERITAGE PREVIEW SHOW!
Team Lowco gets you ready for the 2022 RBC Heritage presented by Boeing with an in-depth preview show featuring insight from LowcoGolf founders Justin Jarrett and Ian Guerin, senior contributors Wes Kerr and Brian Rietveld, and Bluffton High School golfer and Lowco intern Brady Sacha.