During the 2023 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week. Here are his thoughts on this week’s RBC Heritage.
Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
About the Tournament
The golf world shifts its focus from a weather-plagued Masters that saw a worthy champion in Jon Rahm to the RBC Heritage, which draws a strong field this year because it’s elevated as a designated event. Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina is the course, and it’s a shorter track that gives a lot of players a chance to win.
In the past, many of the top golfers would avoid this tournament following the first major, but that’s not the case anymore because PGA TOUR players are now only allowed to skip one of these designated events — and most will come with a $20 million purse (that’s $2 million more in prize money than was given out at the Masters).
Top of the Board
Scottie Scheffler (+750) and Jon Rahm (+850) headline the field after Rory McIlroy withdrew from the event on Monday morning. I likely won’t be betting on Rahm for awhile after he cashed a ticket for me this past week at Augusta. This week seems like a difficult spot for the Spaniard coming off a Masters win in which he had to finish the last 30 holes all on Sunday.
Scheffler ended up finishing tied for 10th at Augusta after some shockingly bad putting in the first two rounds. Despite those struggles, he finished second in the field in strokes gained tee to green and led the field in strokes gained approach. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scheffler won this tournament because he has the ability to putt well, but I don’t want to bet him at this number.
Patrick Cantlay (12/1) occupies the third spot on the betting board and with good reason. Cantlay is the ultimate horse for the course at Harbour Town with four top-seven finishes, including being tied for third twice and a playoff loss a year ago. Cantlay was in the second to last group at the Masters and drew a lot of criticism because of his slow play that held up the tournament’s final group. I considered a bet on Cantlay when the odds opened, but I missed out on a better number before McIlroy withdrew, so I’m going to pass on golf Twitter’s new villain.
A name and number that jumped out to me on Monday morning was Justin Thomas. I bet him at 33/1 and would still play him down to 25/1, where he is currently priced. Thomas was at a shorter price last week at Augusta in a stronger field. These odds indicate to me that he is being significantly docked for missing the cut at the Masters — but I don’t think that’s fair.
At the Masters, Thomas missed the cut on the number after dealing with the most challenging weather circumstances. His second round was cut short on Friday because he played in the afternoon, and it resumed on Saturday in colder and windy conditions. He played the last eight holes at +6 to miss out on the final two rounds.
This series of events gives Thomas a better chance to win this week because he avoided having to play in what would have been a grueling rest of the tournament at Augusta. Last year, his friend Jordan Spieth missed the cut at the Masters and followed it up with a win at the RBC Heritage. Maybe Thomas can use that as inspiration and bounce back at an event he has never missed the cut in.
I’m going to go back to Sungjae Im (25/1) and Shane Lowry (30/1) after they helped me turn a profit in the nationality props at Augusta. Im battled on the weekend to finish tied as the top Korean with Tom Kim, while Lowry benefitted from McIlroy missing the cut to finish as the top Irish player.
Im has been playing steady golf this season and tied for 16th last week at the Masters after making the cut on the number while also dealing with tough weather conditions. Harbour Town is a perfect course for his game, and he proved that by finishing in 13th and 21st place in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Lowry is a player I’ve backed in his last two starts dating back to Match Play. His iron play has been strong this season, which is an area that is emphasized at this course. He’s finished tied for third twice at Harbour Town, including last year, and also has a ninth-place finish.
Mid-range Targets and Longshots
During his career, Si Woo Kim (66/1) has won past events like the Wyndham Championship, THE PLAYERS Championship, the American Express and the Sony Open. What do they have in common? Those tournaments were all played at courses resembling Harbour Town, which gives me extra confidence in Kim’s game this week. He also came close to winning the RBC Heritage five years ago when he lost in the playoff. Because of this year’s strong field, Kim has now drifted to a price that I’m comfortable taking due to his consistent play this season.
Gary Woodland (125/1) has been on my radar for weeks because of some strong ball-striking performances throughout 2023. While putting has been a problem for Woodland, it’s an aspect of his game that could instantly turn around. Despite only two appearances at this event, a shorter course like Harbour Town should suit his game.