Let’s all sit back, take a breath, and relax.
Now that all of the hoopla about the Masters is behind us, it’s time to focus on the second half of the season. There are plenty of tournaments and money to be won but, more importantly, it’s time to start concentrating on that all-encompassing FedEx Cup points race.
The hype was certainly there big-time last week. From Tiger Woods coming back to play after rehabbing his severe injury to Scottie Scheffler picking up his first major victory (which we gave out last week at +1600), we need to remember that the PGA Tour looks forward and not back.
With that in mind, it’s time to dive into this week’s RBC Heritage.
The tournament is held at Harbour Town Golf Links, a par-71 layout, in Hilton Head, SC, just down the road from Augusta National.
The past couple of years have seen more and more big guns teeing it up here and that trend will continue this week. Oddsmakers have a lot of big names to consider.
Dustin Johnson? Yep. Collin Morikawa? You bet. Justin Thomas? Absolutely. Patrick Cantlay? Yes, sir. (Sorry…one more trip back in the Masters archives and a tip of the cap to broadcaster Verne Lundquist).
You get the idea. In years past, it was easy for a number of the big names to take the week off after the intense pressure of the Masters.
Not recently and certainly not this year.
For those players looking to climb up the money and points list, this is an ideal tournament because of the fact the last few winners haven’t included superstar names.
But while there will be star power here this week, it also makes it a great spot for up-and-comers and those looking to recharge their careers to step into the spotlight.
Just ask last year’s winner Stewart Cink. The 48-year-old won twice in 2021 at events where the star-wattage was down a little. That included this event as well as the season-opening Safeway Open.
Will he have a chance to repeat? Let’s take a look at the numbers and find out.
Odds To Win The RBC Heritage (DraftKings)
Justin Thomas +900
Collin Morikawa +1200
Patrick Cantlay +1400
Cam Smith +1600
Daniel Berger +1800
Shane Lowry +1800
Dustin Johnson +1800
Matt Fitzpatrick +1800
Editor’s note: Gaming Today golf analyst Bill Bowman has predicted the outright winner in three of the last five tournaments.
Don’t Count Out Another First-Time Winner
Last year’s winner, Cink, and the 2020 winner, Webb Simpson, certainly have solid PGA Tour credentials as well as multiple wins on Tour. But the three previous winners — C.T. Pan in 2018, Satoshi Kodaira in 2017 and Wesley Bryan in 2016 — all picked up their first and only PGA Tour wins here.
So, maybe it’s time to again look at a player who hasn’t picked up a victory but is playing solid golf. That player would be Maverick McNealy at +5500.
If you’re wondering how we came up with that name, that’s easy to answer. He’s quietly moved up into the world rankings and is currently 77th. He’s also 21st in the FedEx Cup points race and he’s trending in the right direction.
McNealy has been on the front page of the leaderboard in recent tournaments. In this wraparound season, he has six top-25 finishes and has put himself in contention a number of times but hasn’t closed the deal come Sunday.
He was T-4 here last year despite a lackluster even-par first round. It’s just a matter of time before he lands in the winner’s circle, and we’re thinking that time just might be now. If McNealy can break through that would give the PGA Tour a ninth first-time winner in this wraparound season.
There Are Big Names Lurking
Just because all of the stars aren’t shining when it comes to this event doesn’t mean a few of them could make some noise, as they usually do when they are highlighting a field.
This week it could be Justin Thomas.
Sure, he’s the favorite at +900 but despite the low odds, the value is still there. Another reminder here to always shop around for the best odds as Thomas was +1300 at FanDuel as of Tuesday morning.
Thomas started off Masters week about as bad as he could, putting up a four-over-par 76 in the first round at Augusta before a second-round 67 got him back into the conversation. He finished with a top-10, good by most players’ standards but most players aren’t Justin Thomas.
It’s been a while since he’s won and his recent play suggests that next victory will come sooner rather than later. His rebound in the Master shows he’s on the right track as he didn’t let his first-round woes keep him down.
In this wraparound season, he’s had six top-10s in 10 events. That’s a pretty good record but not when you’re the seventh-ranked player in the world. He expects victories and this could certainly be that week.
Another Favorite And Longshot To Consider
One bad swing cost Cam Smith a chance at a green jacket. This week he may be able to settle for the plaid one the winner receives this week if his focus is on point.
No one could hold it against Smith, at +1600 this week, if he doesn’t have a great week at the RBC considering he’s going to be replaying that 12th hole tee shot in the final round of the Masters over and over in his mind.
And, unfortunately, it’s still going to land in the water and drown his hopes of winning the Masters. But he’s a professional and we expect him to bounce back and take aim at getting back in the winner’s circle.
And then, as if McNealy isn’t enough of a longshot, we’re going to add in last year’s winner, Cink, at +13000 to our list. It’s always tough to repeat as a champ and when you’re 48-years-old, it’s likely that much tougher.
But Cink, who missed the cut at last week’s Masters, still has a lot of positives going for the year including an ace on the 16th hole in the second round of the Masters.
And at these long odds, we’re willing to back him even if it’s just a small play.
On To The Prop Scene
There’s a three-player matchup we like a lot this week. We’re looking at Corey Conners at +155 to beat Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton.
The even-tempered Conners can overcome a couple of errant shots here and there while Horschel and Hatton both have a tendency to let their emotions — as well as a club — fly if shots don’t turn out well. Just look at last week’s Masters where they both had mini-meltdowns.
We’re also going back to the winner not playing in the last group on Sunday. At +175, it’s a great value and last week’s loss snapped a three-tournament winning streak with that bet.
We’ll get right back up on the horse and say that one cashes again.
Also read: PGA Championship Betting Guide