Diane Knox Balas: Our Pickswise golf analyst with her RBC Heritage best bets and course insights

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Diane Knox Balas

Golf· 1 month ago

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Golf analyst for Pickswise.

Well, if you have the post-Masters blues, it’s time to shake them off because the grind doesn’t stop. Mind you, visiting one of the most delightful vacation spots on the East Coast certainly does not qualify as a “grind”. It’s a short three-hour drive from the gates of Augusta National to Harbour Town Golf Links, South Carolina for some of the stars of last week — Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa to name but a few. In fact, six of the top eight finishers from the Masters are in the field hoping to keep that momentum going, and five of the OWGR top 10 are teeing it up this week in Hilton Head.

The winner receives a rather fetching red tartan jacket (you may prefer to say “plaid” but I’m Scottish so that word is not in my vocabulary) and, interesting fact, the tartan was actually designed and produced by a kiltmaker in Edinburgh, our capital city.

Harbour Town Golf Links course preview: What you need to know

Harbour Town Golf Links is a fantastic course. A par 71, it measures in at just over 7,100 yards. It’s a Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus collaboration and has all the characteristics of a typical Dye design – intimidating off the tee, strategically placed bunkers and tight, contoured greens. The narrow fairways are lined with big, mossy oak trees and there’s a lot of overhanging branches to avoid. You’ll see a lot of the big hitters clubbing down off the tee this week and the premium is really on the second shot, so I’m really paying close attention to those short game stats — greens in reg and proximity to the hole — as well as accuracy off the tee.

I’m favoring guys who show consistency and eliminate the mistakes as best as they can. The weather forecast looks good, with a bit of rain on Friday but winds not getting above 13 mph all week and temperatures in the mid-70s.

RBC Heritage past results

In 2021, Stewart Cink won the RBC Heritage for the third time in his career, with the previous two victories coming way back in 2000 and 2004. He held off a chasing pack of Harold Varner III, Emiliano Grillo, Maverick McNealy and Corey Conners. Other past champions include Webb Simpson (2020), C.T. Pan (2019), Satoshi Kodaira (2018) and Jim Furyk (2010 & ’15). Last year, Cink won at -19, and the year prior Simpson got all the way to -22, but there was little-to-no wind that year and the tournament was played in June post-COVID.

Knox’s Knockout RBC Heritage picks

Shane Lowry (+2200)

Available with BetMGM at time of publishing.

The Irishman was disappointed with his finish at Augusta National, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact he played great golf all week, and he has been playing great golf of late. Coming off a T3 finish at the Masters, he also finished runner-up at the Honda Classic and T12 at the Valspar Championship in the recent Florida swing, and was in the mix at The Players Championship for a while too.

His approach stats are excellent, and he sits at 3rd on Tour in proximity to the hole.

Last year, he scored a top 10 finish at this event, gaining strokes on the field in all categories – especially tee to green – and in 2019 he finished in a tie for 3rd. I like Lowry a lot this week, and I think he’ll channel his Masters frustrations all the way to the top.

Joaquin Niemann (+3500)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

A good price for one of the best iron players on the whole tour. When it comes to hitting your spot on the green, Niemann is elite. He loves to shape the ball off the tee, so as long as he can keep it in the fairway this week he should be able to put himself in prime position. Plus, being a long-hitter, he’ll no doubt pull 3-wood more than driver which will help his accuracy. He also finished T3 here in 2020 after shooting a 63 on Saturday and says it’s one of his favorite courses on Tour.

Adam Hadwin (+6500)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

If you’re looking for a slightly longer-shot this week, I like Hadwin. He would’ve been sitting at home last week, watching the Masters on TV and no doubt strategizing how he can be at Augusta in 2023. The Canadian has been playing some superb golf – a T4 at the Valero Texas Open two weeks ago capping off three top-10 finishes in a row – how’s that for momentum? One of those was at TPC Sawgrass, another Pete Dye design. Hadwin is a medium-range hitter whose approach/greens in reg stats really stand out – and that’s the formula for this week.

RBC Heritage Prop Bets

Kevin Kisner Top-5 Finish (+1000)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

Kiz makes no secret of the fact he tees it up where he feels he has the best chance of success, and Harbour Town fits his game to a tee. A short, positional hitter who can really plot his way around the course, Kevin is having a great season and has already notched up four top-10 finishes, including a recent 4th at The Players Championship (another Dye design) and a runner-up at the Match Play just a few weeks ago. He’s coming off two straight missed cuts here, but in 2018 he finished T7. And, as I said, I’m really considering his great form of late. He’s 5th in driving accuracy and 7th in putting on tour right now, which is a solid recipe for success around Harbour Town. Plus, his short game has been on point and a key factor in his recent finishes.

Russell Henley Top-10 Finish (+200)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I wanted to go all-in on Henley this week, but I’ve been burned by him too many times this season. He leads the Tour in SG: Approach, had a decent Masters with a closing 70 and finished top 10 here last year. The course and Henley’s game should be a perfect match, but I’m taking him for a Top 10 and keeping my fingers crossed for four solid rounds.

Morgan Hoffman Top-40 Finish (+400)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

If you want a cool story to follow along with this week, watch out for Morgan Hoffman. He’s making his first start on the PGA Tour since 2019 and has three starts left on his major medical exemption. Hoffman suffers from muscular dystrophy and recently traded his life in Jupiter, Florida to move to the jungle in Costa Rica and enjoy a more simple, stripped-back lifestyle to prioritize his health and spiritual wellbeing, and search for natural, holistic therapies to help his body battle with this horrible disease. But don’t be fooled, he’s still working on his craft in paradise. He’s going to receive a very warm welcome from his old pals, and fans, this week. Plus, funny things can happen when it’s all on the line.

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now.

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