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RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Why doesn’t Collin Morikawa get more respect?

Ben Walton

Forgive us for this sweeping generalization, but nobody picked Hideki Matsuyama to win the Masters last week. OK, maybe a few folks threw him at the bottom of their cards as a shot in the dark, but nobody was talking him up, and nobody had him as their pick to win, including us.

And how could you blame anyone? Matsuyama hadn’t shown much recent form outside of a runner-up at the Houston Open before the November Masters, and even when his elite iron play has shown up recently, the putter often fails him. You can’t trust a guy like that at Augusta National. Naturally, Matsuyama putted beautifully and was incredible around the greens, which goes to show how impossible it is to predict this sport.

Of course, that’s not going to stop us from continuing to try, and, if you take out last week, we’ve done a damn good job of predicting it this season—nailing five of the past 10 winners on the PGA Tour. Our intent is to get right back on track at the RBC Heritage, where longshots have historically fared well. Sounds like an opportunity to recoup some Masters losses to us.

A consensus among our betting panel this week? Collin Morikawa at 20-1 odds. The guy has won four times on the PGA Tour since turning pro in 2019. That’s an incredible number, and yet oddsmakers are still offering these favorable odds. As Golf Digest contributing data scientists Pat Mayo (of Mayo Media Network) and Rick Gehman (RickRunGood.com) point out, Harbour Town matches Morikawa’s strengths (accuracy off the tee and on approach) perfectly. It’s tough not to like him this week.

Read on to see who the rest of our panel—including an anonymous PGA Tour caddie—like in the 2021 RBC Heritage.

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Webb Simpson (14-1) — Defending a title can affect some players, but Webb is not that type of player. He’s a world-class player who continues to fly under the radar. This course is tailored to what Webb does well—find fairways and greens—and he’s one of the best putters on tour. It’s no surprise he has six finishes of T-11 or better here, and thanks to Fantasy National, we know he’s gained 33.15 strokes on the field at Harbour Town in the past five events.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Collin Morikawa (20-1) — Morikawa tops in this field in approach over the past 50 rounds, but it will all come down to his putter. Three of the past five times Morikawa he's gained strokes putting, he's won the event. Just hope it’s one of those weeks.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Matt Fitzpatrick (28-1) — Fitzpatrick’s odds have already shortened at a few books, but I still think this is a good number. He is an elite Bermuda putter and is someone who can hit fairways at a high rate, which is a key stat this week. Fitzpatrick anecdotally plays well in the wind, though the PGA Tour stats aren’t quite showing it. He has two top-15 finishes here in the past three years.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Collin Morikawa (20-1) — There’s a certain skill-set that plays well at Harbour Town, and it includes accuracy off the tee and precision with approaches. That is basically the perfect description of Morikawa, who leads the PGA Tour in driving accuracy (72 percent) and is No. 1 in strokes gained/approach. Additionally, and more importantly, he knows how to win. He’s already hoisted a trophy on four occasions in his past 39 starts.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Chris Kirk (60-1) — Whenever you have this much conviction on a pick, it’s a bad sign. But the guy plays his best on courses that reward ball-striking and shaping your golf ball (he was in the mix at The Players until the final-round collapse). His all-around game is in a place where lifting a trophy will come in the next few months, and I think this is a great place for him to do it.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Matthew Fitzpatrick (28-1) — It feels lazy to go with the “Harbour Town is Fitzpatrick’s favorite course” narrative, but I’m rolling with it this season, which has been one of Fitzpatrick’s best on the PGA Tour. In June, he made RBC his second post-COVID start, finishing 14th, which marked his third career finish of 23rd or better in this event. Since then he’s collected seven finishes of 11th or better, consistently knocking on the door for that first tour win. If the wind picks up on the weekend, if his putter stays hot and if he hits his irons a little better than he has over the last month, it could all fall into place at his favorite tour stop this week. Lot of ifs, of course, but that’s why they call it gambling.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Cantlay (18-1) — I know you’re scared by the missed cut and +8 performance at Augusta. But we’ve seen players all year rebound after missed cuts. Trust the longer-terms sample size: Per fantasy National, Cantlay is ranks second in SG/total over the past two years and 16th for SG/tee to green over the past two months. And he loves it at Harbour own, finishing in the top 10 in every appearance, and thus is ranked seventh in FanShare Sports’ course-suitability modeling.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is RED-HOT. Our experts have now predicted five of the past 10 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. As we’ve said, our crew gets hot and tends to stay hot, so don’t miss out on our picks! Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. At The Players, Christopher Powers called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1) as did Rick Gehman. That’s each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Abraham Ancer (33-1) — It’s a bit of a stretch to call Ancer a sleeper at these odds, but I just really wanted to tell you to bet him this week. It’s the perfect course for him, as evidenced by his runner-up last year, and he’s just due for a win. Plus, wouldn’t it be fitting after that penalty at Augusta last week for the Golf Gods to reward him with a victory? Sometimes the game works like that.

Mayo: Doug Ghim (125-1) — The Ghim Reaper’s putting has been atrocious for about two months now, but if Hideki’s win taught us anything, keep following the ball striking and hope you get lucky on the greens. Ghim’s gained on approach in eight consecutive events, and the last time we saw him at Valero, despite a T-44 finish, he was actually seventh in the field tee-to-green. Don’t forget Ghim was in the mix entering Sunday at the Players and the best finish of his career came at The American Express in January, both Pete Dye courses.

Gdula: Brendon Todd (80-1) — Todd always seems to be worth a dart when it’s an accuracy-heavy Bermuda course, which is what we have this week. He is the most accurate golfer in the field over the past 100 rounds, according to FantasyNational.com, and he is one of the best Bermuda putters. His missed cut last year came when losing only a single stroke to the field, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into that.

Gehman: Brendon Todd (80-1) — Todd enters the week having made his last five cuts—and only missing two in his past 10 starts. Driving accuracy won’t be a problem, as Todd leads this field in fairways hit in the last 50 rounds. Combine that with the fact that only two golfers have gained more strokes putting in that timespan, Todd has the combination of skills to get hot and steal a golf tournament. Remember, this event has produced winners like C.T. Pan, Satoshi Kodaira and Wesley Bryan—longshots are live here!

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brandt Snedeker (100-1) — It has been a long, long time since I placed a bet on Brandt Snedeker. He’s been in rough form—until the Valero Texas Open. Sneds gained seven strokes on his approaches—his best mark since he won the Wyndham Championship in 2018. We know Sneds likes Harbour Town, winning here 10 years ago. Plus, if it gets windy as the early forecasts indicate that it could, Sneds absolutely eats in the wind.

Powers, Golf Digest: Chris Kirk (60-1) — Both Billy Horschel and Jordan Spieth have finally capitalized on consistent form with a win in the last few weeks. Now, it’s Chris Kirk’s turn. In 2021, Kirk has made seven of eight cuts, and finished inside the top 25 in six of those starts. The only time he didn’t finish top 25 was at the Players, where he was just three off the lead after 54 holes before shooting a final-round 79. He quickly bounced back at Honda and Valero, where he gained four strokes on approach and 6.1 with the putter. He’s so close, and I’m happy to take 60-1 on a guy who keeps gaining on a win.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jim Furyk (150-1) — Luke Donald gets credit as being Mr. RBC Heritage, but shouldn’t it be Jim Furyk with his two victories and two runners-up? He ranks first in strokes gained/total in his career at Harbour Town—and he has a BIT of form—finishing in the top-30 in two of the past four starts. A bit of a form is all you need to back the real Mr. RBC Heritage.

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Sungjae Im (33-1) — I love his game, but the inconsistency will cost him golf tournaments. That was on display at the Masters—that nightmarish Friday cost him a made-cut, and it will take more than a week to figure all that out.

Mayo: Webb Simpson (14-1) — Top-5 bet: Sure. Top 10: Even better. It’s just so rare for any player to go back-to-back at an event, especially coming off a grueling week at The Masters.

Gdula: Cameron Smith (30-1) — I like the current form but not so much the course fit for Smith. He’s not accurate off the tee, and he has also not produced great wind splits on the PGA Tour either. His three made cuts here were virtually all reliant on elite short game.

Gehman: Dustin Johnson (12-1) — For the first time in recent memory, Dustin Johnson is not the favorite (at some sportsbooks … William Hill still has DJ marked as the favorite). That should tell you all you need to know about his chances this week. Johnson enters in poor form, missing the cut at the Masters. The trip to Hilton Head might be more of a sponsor obligation than a true fit for his game: Johnson’s best finish is a T-16 in five trips. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, this is the event that Johnson has played the most in his career without earning a top 10.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (12-1) — This is an easy one … I think he’ll go into reset mode after this week to get ready for Kiawah Island.

Powers, Golf Digest: Will Zalatoris (25-1) — Just feels like a natural let down spot for Willy Z, who damn near had the week of his life (still might have been) at Augusta. Going to be tough to match that energy at RBC, the chillest tour stop on the entire schedule.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (20-1) — Morikawa finished a disappointing 64th place on his only visit here, last year. He hasn’t fared much better at similar courses either and ranks just 92nd for strokes gained/total on FanShare’s corollary courses. He also only has one top-15 place finish on his last six events (yes, I know it’s a win).

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Matchups

Caddie: Collin Morikawa (-125) over Will Zalatoris (DraftKings) — Willy Z is a young kid, but even still, he must be mentally fried after last week. For Morikawa, this is a great course for him with his pristine ball-striking.

Mayo: Chris Kirk (-120) over Kevin Streelman (DraftKings) — Always tough to go against Streelman at a short, Pete Dye track, but Kirk just keeps churning out top finishes. Just two finishes outside the top 25 since January, that’s good enough to keep winning head-to-heads.

Gdula: Harris English (-128) over Lee Westwood (FanDuel) — English had a poor stretch following his win at the Tournament of Champions, including two missed cuts and a 66th at the WGC-Workday. He has bounced back since with a 26th at the Arnold Palmer and a 21st at the Masters. The long-term data has a massive gap between these two.

Gehman: Charley Hoffman (+100) over Kevin Kisner (DraftKings) — The narrative is strong with Kisner, but the metrics back Hoffman. Most people don’t realize how good Hoffman has been in the last six to seven months. If you go back to the start of this season, in September, Hoffman is averaging 1.39 strokes gained per round. That’s the 11th-best mark of anyone on tour—and the fifth-best of anyone in this field. He’s rolling right now and you’re getting him at even money.

Hennessey: Brian Harman (-111) over Will Zalatoris (FanDuel) — This is a perfect example of how to find value in golf matchup lines. The public will always go to the flashy young kid who just had the runner-up finish. And yet oddsmakers, still have this line even, despite all the public money that must be rushing in here. Harman is the sharp play—as the diminutive lefty also had a great finish at Augusta, just with less fanfare. And before that, he finished T-3 at the Players and made the final eight of the WGC-Match Play. This is a course that should suit his game—so I’ll back the sharp side here, knowing it’ll be tough for a young kid like Willy Z to back up such a great week with another one.

Powers: Webb Simpson (-102) over Dustin Johnson (FanDuel) — Webb’s course history is unrivaled, and he’s finished in the top 12 in two of his past three starts. DJ, meanwhile, is obviously off, and Harbour Town is probably not the best place to suddenly find your game.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Cantlay (-120) over Collin Morikawa (Betway) — As you can see above, Cantlay is my favorite to win this week and Morikawa is my fade of the week. This is a nice price for this combo.

Matchup results from the Masters: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Louis Oosthuizen (+108) over Sergio Garcia); Caddie; Mayo; Gehman, Hennessey, Powers, Alldrick: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Alldrick: 16-9-1 (up 5.77 units); Hennessey: 14-10-1 (up 2.93 units); Gdula: 14-12-0 (up 1.16 units); Powers: 11-11-4 (down 0.74 units); Mayo: 11-13-1 (down 2.58 units); Gehman: 8-16-2 (down 7.48 units); Caddie: 7-16-3 (down 8.05 units).

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Tyrrell Hatton (+250) — The guy got super hot last year, so he’ll come here licking his chops after a T-18 finish at Augusta. I think Hatton is a good bet to win and a safe bet for a top-10 finish.

Mayo: Patton Kizzire (+1200) — Annually better on Bermuda greens, Kizzire’s irons have found life as of late. After gaining 4.1 strokes on approach against an elite field at the Players, he was second among all players at the Valero with his approaches. The results have never really been there at Harbour Town, but Kizzire’s two PGA wins have come at Harbour Town comp courses: Mayakoba and Waialae.

Gdula: Russell Henley (+450) — Henley is someone we can bump up when distance isn’t a prerequisite for success, and over the past year—if you weigh his numbers for recency and field strength—he ranks in the 98th percentile in this field in SG/approach.

Gehman: Tyrrell Hatton (+250) — Hatton finished with a flurry on Sunday at the Masters, carding a final-round 68 for a T-18 finish. That’s noteworthy since Hatton has struggled historically at Augusta National and this marks his best finish in five trips. He will look to continue that momentum in Hilton Head and get off to a fast start—something he wasn’t able to do in 2020. Hatton opened with a 71 (even par) last year before playing his final three rounds at 20-under and finishing T-3.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Michael Thompson (+900) — Only two players have had top-10 finishes at Harbour Town in 2020 and 2019: J.T. Poston and Michael Thompson. Thompson’s also coming off a solid Masters, finishing T-34. These are very nice odds for someone’s won a tournament in the past year.

Powers, Golf Digest: Camilo Villegas (+1800) — Once Steve Bamford mentioned Camilo on our “Be Right” pod this week, I was all in. Despite having three top 20s since November, the books continue to hang some monster numbers on Camilo, who we forget was once a top-10 player in the world and has four tour wins to his name. He’s got great history at Harbour Town, too, with a ninth in 2013, a fifth in 2010 and a seventh in 2009. A long time ago, sure, but Villegas seems to be finding his younger self as of late. The really safe bet is top 20, which you can get at 9-1, which is also absurd.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (+400) — Hoffman is the hottest man in the field form-wise, ranking second for SG/tee to green over the past two months and first for Opportunities Gained over the same period. He will be so disappointed with not having made it into the Masters this year and will surely be highly motivated to ensure that doesn’t happen again next year. Hoffman also has two top-10 finishes at this event in the past.

Top-10 results from the Masters: 0-for-1

Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 6 for 23 (up 15.1 units); Powers: 2 for 23 (down 6 units); Hennessey: 3 for 23 (down 8 units); Mayo: 2 for 23 (down 8 units); Tour caddie: 3 for 23 (down 10.45 units); Gdula: 2 for 23 (down 10 units); Alldrick: 0 for 22 (down 22 units).

RBC Heritage 2021 expert picks: One and Done pick

Gehman: Daniel Berger — Berger shot rounds of 75-73 at the Masters to miss the cut, but it wasn’t all that bad. He still made seven birdies over two rounds, which is the second-most of any golfer to miss the cut. There were just a couple of big numbers and untimely squares on the card. He hasn’t missed two cuts in a row since the start of 2019 and four top 10s in his past eight starts. He played this event last year, shooting 63-65 on the weekend to finish T-3.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson.

Hennessey: Webb Simpson — This will be the chalky play in your one-and-done pool, so sorry to not go more contrarian this week. If you want to save Webb for the Wyndham, I get it. But Webber just finished T-12 at the Masters and comes to a place he absolutely loves.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson.

Powers: Kevin Kisner — Harbour Town is one of the handful of courses on tour that Kevin Kisner feels he can actually win at, as opposed to T-25-ing. Showed some great signs of life at Augusta National last Thursday, though he ended up ejecting on Friday. Expect a bounce back at RBC, where he owns a runner-up, an 11th and a seventh since 2014.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

3,700 The average size of greens at Harbour Town, in square feet, the second smallest among PGA Tour venues, behind only Pebble Beach.

2 — The number of times this event has been decided by two or more strokes in the past 11 years. There have been five playoffs and four one-shot victories in that stretch.

22-under — The winning score by Webb Simpson last year, the tournament record and the only time that the event had been played in June.

305.4 — The average driving distance for two-time RBC Heritage winner Stewart Cink. That ranks the 47-year-old 29th on tour.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.