The second tournament in the PGA Tour’s revised summer schedule, the RBC Heritage, tees off at Hilton Head in South Carolina today, with many of the game’s top players in action again.
Last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, which saw Daniel Berger defeat Collin Morikawa in a playoff, passed without much controversy as professional golf returned to action under Covid-19 restrictions, and the PGA Tour will be hoping that continues here as the players get used to socially-distanced golf and all that it entails. Played without fans, birdies and bogeys are treated just the same, although many players are still to enjoy acknowledging the non-existent crowd whenever they hole a decent putt.
The RBC Heritage is traditionally played the week after the Masters and rarely draws such a strong field, so to have to have the world’s top four – Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka – among the field is a bonus for the tournament host and the TV viewers. And with 15 of the world’s top 20 in attendance, the field has strength and depth.
Tiger Woods, currently ranked 14, will not be among them however, as although his yacht was spotted last week dropping anchor in nearby St Simons Island, he has chosen to keep his clubs under competitive wraps for now. After Daniel Berger picked up a fetching checked jacket for his win at Colonial last week – and a handy $1.35m – the players will be, by coincidence, competing for another fetching checked number this week, and another hefty prize fund.
Among the groups to watch include Berger, Koepka and Patrick Reed (12.29pm, UK), which could be a little awkward as Koepka called out Reed for cheating at the Hero World Challenge in December, saying he was ‘building sand castles’ illegally in the bunker, while Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose makes for a classy three-ball later in the day (6.05pm UK), with Rose bidding to build on his strong showing last week. Having changed his clubs, caddy and now coach in the last few weeks, the former world No.1 is clearly intent on giving it all he’s got for the remainder of 2020.
Another decent trio includes McIlroy, C.T. Pan and Rickie Fowler (12.40pm UK). Pan is the defending champion after he held off Matt Kuchar last year to earn his first and only PGA Tour win. McIlroy hasn’t played this tournament in 11 years, while Fowler missed the cut last week and will be hoping to have shaken off the rust of a three-month absence from competition.
As for the course itself, Harbour Town Golf Links is a Pete Dye design that tends to reward accuracy off the tee rather than power, so Bryson deChambeau’s 340-yard drives might not be quite so much of a threat here. With narrow, tree-lined fairways and small greens, accuracy off the tee and with approaches is going to be key.
For a full list of tee times, click here. Coverage of the RBC Heritage begins from midday today (June 18) on Sky Sports Golf and carries on until Sunday.