McCombs: Another crack at 10 who can win the RBC Heritage

mmccombs@islandpacket.comApril 17, 2014 

Masters Golf

Jordan Spieth pumps his first after an eagle on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters on Friday in Augusta, Ga.

CHRIS CARLSON — The Associated Press

When I first wrote this column two years ago, I pointed out how insane it was to think you could pick the winner of a golf tournament.

And of course, since the common saying is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, maybe by doing this again I'm simply doubling up on crazy.

But I feel like my methods, especially for someone who is admittedly no golf expert, are relatively sound: Look for guys who have either won or played well at Harbour Town in the past and who are playing well lately.

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously.

But going 0 for 20 doesn't build confidence. If the process is sound, the results have been anything but.

(One side note: Webb Simpson and Jason Day were both on my short list, but their withdrawals on Monday forced me to revise my list.)

Over the 10 years before I got here, my predecessors successfully picked the winner just three times.

So if I luck out, er, I mean get it right this year, I'll be slightly ahead of their pace.

Once again, my attempt at 10 who can win, in alphabetical order:

STEWART CINK

Heritage scoring average: 70.33

Best finish: 1st (2001, 2004)

2013 finish: T-24th

Why plaid suits him: He's won at Harbour Town twice before and finished inside the top 30 for four of the past six years.

LUKE DONALD

Heritage scoring average: 70.11

Best finish: 2nd (2011)

2013 finish: T-3

Why plaid suits him: He's done everything but win at Harbour Town, which is my only knock on him. Second in 2009 and 2011 and third in 2010 and 2013. The tie for 37th in 2012 makes him look like the future.

RUSSELL HENLEY

Heritage scoring average: 69.75

Best finish: T-6th (2013)

2013 finish: T-6

Why plaid suits him: Henley tied for sixth in his Harbour Town debut last year. In two short years out of the University of Georgia, he has two PGA Tour wins and 15 top 25s in his 40 events played. I haven't seen enough to know if this is his kind of course, but we'll know soon enough.

MATT KUCHAR

Heritage scoring average: 70.76

Best finish: T-7th (2008)

2013 finish: T-35th

Why plaid suits him: Kuchar has two top 10s at Harbour Town but hasn't fared as well in the last few years. Chalk this one up to hunch, as well. He is 11th in the FedEx Cup and sixth in the World Golf Rankings.

DAVIS LOVE III

Heritage scoring average: 70.05

Best finish: 1st (1987, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2003)

2013 finish: DNP

Why plaid suits him: If you have to ask ... I don't know if Love has the game he used to, but one thing is for certain: 11 top 10s and five tartan jackets show that the Sea Island, Ga., native long ago figured out Harbour Town.

GRAEME MCDOWELL

Heritage scoring average: 71.71

Best finish: 1st (2003)

2013 finish: 1st

Why plaid suits him: He won last year, and though his three prior appearances don't really show it, his game is tailored for this course, especially if the wind shows up. And Augusta National and Harbour Town are different beasts.

PATRICK REED

Heritage scoring average: 72.00

Best finish: T-71st (2013)

2013 finish: T-71st

Why plaid suits him: Reed made the cut in his one RBC Heritage appearance, so it's hard to take anything from that. But his ascension to third in the FedEx Cup and 24th in the World Golf Ranking illustrate just how well he's played this year.

BRANDT SNEDEKER

Heritage scoring average: 71.07

Best finish: 1st (2011)

2013 finish: T-59th

Why plaid suits him: He's proven he can win at Harbour Town. A five-putt from three feet for quadruple bogey at the Masters hides the fact that he's been playing well of late. He tied for eighth at Bay Hill prior to the Masters.

JORDAN SPIETH

Heritage scoring average: 70.25

Best finish: T-9th (2013)

2013 finish: T-9th

Why plaid suits him: He finished ninth in his only start here. He just finished second in the Masters. And between the two, has a win, five second places and 14 top 10s. He's sixth in the FedEx Cup and ninth in the World Golf Rankings. Did I mention he's 20?

CAMILO VILLEGAS

Heritage scoring average: 70.52

Best finish: T-5th (2010)

2013 finish: T-9th

Why plaid suits him: Villegas has three top 10s in eight events at Harbour Town. And he's made 11 of 13 cuts this season. Really, this one is just a hunch.

Follow sports editor Mike McCombs at twitter.com/IPBGSports.

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