When a PGA tournament is played the week after the Masters, the brain trust of that tournament needs to come up with creative ideas that will bring some measure of interest to their event. Even though the Ryder Cup is five months away, the folks at this week’s RBC Heritage have found a thread between the two for at least the first two rounds.
This week’s RBC Heritage has paired this year’s team captain, Tom Watson, with the captain of the last Ryder cup team, Davis Love III for Thursday and Friday play on Hilton Head Island, SC. The third member of their group will be superstar-in-the-making and almost certain member of this year’s team, Jordan Spieth. They will tee off at 12:40 p.m. (ET) at Harbour Town Golf Links in their first round on Thursday.
It is still early, but as it stands going into the RBC Heritage, the Ryder Cup point leaders include Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson, Spieth and Patrick Reed in the top five spots, followed by Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson and Harris English. The top nine point leaders automatically qualify for the team, with Captain Watson making three additional Captain’s selections. Those will be made in early September. This year’s Ryder Cup is September 23-28 in Scotland at the Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course.
Other featured groups include Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell going off at 8:20 a.m. Snedeker won the Heritage in 2011 and McDowell is the defending champion. Zach Johnson, Luke Donald and Harris English begin at 12:20 p.m. and Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan will hit their first drives at 8:10 a.m.
John Daly made news in the past week for selling merchandise out of an RV outside the gates of Augusta National during Masters Week, and then appearing on a video hitting a golf ball off of a tee that was held in the mouth of model Kath Michelle. This week he will get to make headlines on the Harbour Town Golf Links. Daly is part of the field at the RBC Heritage and tees off Thursday at 8:50 a.m. His playing partners are Paul Goydos and Brian Harman.
Finally, while the pro golfers focus on the RBC Heritage and Ryder Cup implications, there is group of everyday golfers trying to make the game of golf easier and a bit faster. On Monday HackGolf, a group of golfers whose aim is to “make golf more fun for everyone,” made a test run on a new innovation at one of the resort courses at Georgia Reynolds Plantation. PGA players Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, along with golfers of various skill levels, played nine holes with special 15-inch cups installed on the greens. Garcia shot 30 and Rose carded 33. HackGolf tried the concept two weeks ago on all 18 holes of a golf course in Southern California and found significant results. The larger cups reduced the time it takes to play an 18-hole round from four hours and 30 minutes to three hours and 45 minutes. They also reported that many players saw an improvement of 10 strokes on their scores.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky