The Harbour Links at Hilton Head in South Carolina can be slightly misleading. Typical links golf it is not, with 16 of the 18 holes actually being in-land and surrounded by pine trees. However, as you would expect set on the East coast of Carolina, the elements do have an effect and with up to 25 kmh wind forecast across Thursday and Friday, wind positive players are an absolute must.
It’s a tight Par 70 and virtually unheard of these days at sub 7,000 yards. Its defences are built around the elements and its location within a forest. With no wind, low scores are very possible as the greens although tiny in nature are as flat as a pancake, hence birdies are relatively easy hunting for the PGA Tour pros.
With the pressure of The Masters now over, Augusta will still have an effect on the Verizon Heritage. I won’t touch any of the Top 20 from Augusta National for fairly obvious reasons. Any player that has contended across 4 tough days around 72 of the toughest holes in golf, will struggle to win the same week.
Instead I’m going for a group of proven winners with Florida and Carolina connections at excellent value prices plus a great 2nd season outsider.
Mr Johnson has had a habit of letting his followers down of late but as sure as eggs are eggs he’ll contend and probably win the week you get off him. At sub 7,000 yards this course suits Johnson and he’s a proven winner on tight tracks with Bermuda greens. Won at very similar tight and windy tracks namely La Cantera in 2008 and both Waialee and La Cantera again in 2009.
I keep the Florida link live with Ben Curtis. Where Johnson was Orlando based for a considerable length of time (now moved to Sea Island commune Georgia) Curtis is another Orlando resident moving from his Ohio home town when he turned professional. A prove Major and 2 time PGA Tour winner, Curtis hasn’t won since 2006. Based on the winners list so far in 2010 that’s a real positive! Saves his best performances for the East coast and loves tough conditions.
Like Jerry Kelly is a real coastal specialist. Unlike Jerry, Slocum hails from coastal Louisianna and was educated in Alabama so is a real southern state boy. His record by the sea is impressive with a win at Liberty National in the Barclays last season backing up a great course CV at Mayakoba which is a similar test. Playing well right now and will be happy to be back on a sub 7,000 yard course after T20 at the ‘mammoth’ Augusta National last week.
Georgia based Goggin ticks a lot of boxes this week and has caused some differences of opinion across the market makers. You can see why. Totally inconsistent to the point of madness, Goggin shows absolutely nothing then pops up in contention. Finished 4th in Phoenix, but what really attracts is both his nationality and the fact that he grew up on the Tasmanian coast so is well used to seaside golf as proven by his 5th at Turnberry last year.
Carl was one of my players to watch in 2010 and so far he has had a much better year with Top 10 performances at Waialee and Tampa. The Carolina based Swede excels in his home state and loves to play seaside golf so for me 110/1 is a big price.
With Leishman was rookie of the year in 2009 and impressed on many occasions, no more than when contending with Heath Slocum at Liberty National. Failed dismally on all his Carolina outings last season, but that can often be the case with the higher levels of expectation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Simpson near the higher reaches of the leaderboard this week on his favoured Bermuda surface.
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 21:30BST 13.4.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation