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The Masters hangover is real for golf fans everywhere, but the PGA Tour isn’t taking a break after the first major championship of the 2022-23 season. The top-ranked players in the world aren’t, either.

This week, the PGA Tour rolls up the east coast to Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage, which qualifies as an elevated event on the schedule. Jon Rahm, a few days after winning his first green jacket, will be in the field at Harbour Town Golf Links for just the second time in his career, as will Scottie Scheffler, reigning champion Jordan Spieth, and 17 of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Do either of Sportscasting’s golf experts think Rahm can go back-to-back for the second time this season? Let’s find out.

2023 RBC Heritage predictions

Sportscasting's RBC Heritage picks.
2023 RBC Heritage predictions | Mike Calendrillo/Sportscasting

Here are a few predictions for the 2023 RBC Heritage from Sportscasting golf experts Jack Dougherty and Luke Norris.

Winner

Jack Dougherty: Tom Kim

If you were to design a golfer in a lab perfectly suited to thrive at Harbour Town, it would be Tom Kim. The feisty South Korean will be making his first career start at the RBC Heritage, but I’m expecting big things from him in his debut.

At just over 7,100 yards, Harbour Town plays as one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour, so accuracy off the tee and approaching the greens is paramount. That’s great news for Kim, who ranks third on Tour in driving accuracy and 10th in greens in regulation percentage this season. He ranks just 118th in driving distance this year, but that won’t matter much on a course that rewards accuracy over distance.

Kim has already picked up wins at TPC Summerlin and Sedgefield Country Club in the last eight months, which are two perfect comp courses for Harbour Town. This week sets up perfectly for win No. 3.

Luke Norris: Viktor Hovland

At some point, Viktor Hovland has to win one of these high-profile tournaments, right? And, no, Tiger’s Hero World Challenge doesn’t count. Why can’t it be this week?

In his last three stroke-play events, all of which featured strong fields, Hovland tied for 10th at the Arnold Palmer, tied for third at The Players Championship, and just tied for seventh at the Masters. He’s SO close. And this is the week the Norweigan finally gets it done. Accuracy is critical at Harbour Town, and Hovland ranks 18th on the PGA Tour in that department off the tee. One also has to go low to win this tournament, and Hovland currently ranks sixth in scoring average this season. It’s time.

Biggest sleeper

Jack Dougherty: Mackenzie Hughes

Mackenzie Hughes found himself in a bit of a slump earlier this season when he missed three cuts in five starts and finished T50 and T61 in the other two. We’re starting to see some signs of life from the Canadian, though, with a T5 finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and a T29 at last week’s Masters.

Hughes gained 1.29 strokes approaching the green at Augusta National, per Data Golf, which was his second-best mark of the season. His best approach week came at the Sanderson Farms Championship back in October, and he left that week with a trophy in his hands.

Luke Norris: J.T. Poston

How in the world is J.T. Poston getting 80-1 odds this week? OK, so he missed the cut here in 2021, but that was due to a first-round 74, which he followed up with a 68 and only missed the weekend by a couple of shots.

However, in 2019, he shot 9-under on the weekend and finished sixth. In 2020, he shot 17-under and finished eighth. And just last year, Poston shot a 64 in the final round to get to 12-under for the week, leaving him just one shot out of the playoff between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay. 80-1? Yeah, I’ll take some of that action.

Most likely bust

Jack Dougherty: Jon Rahm

This might be a foolish pick considering Jon Rahm has reclaimed his throne as the best golfer on planet earth, but there’s no way he would be teeing it up this week if the RBC Heritage wasn’t an elevated event. Rahm has only played Harbour Town once in his career, and he finished outside the top 30.

After a few days of celebrating (responsibly, I’m sure) in the green jacket, I can’t imagine the Masters champion will be totally locked in this week.

Luke Norris: Jordan Spieth

Look, I know Jordan Spieth is the defending champion and hasn’t missed the cut in six appearances at the RBC Heritage. However, winning any tournament two years in a row is extremely tough. And it’ll be even more challenging now as he faces a much stronger field than he did a year ago.

But on top of that, the guy just has to be dog-tired, as this week marks his ninth start in 11 weeks. And Spieth travels in an RV these days, which can only add to the overall exhaustion. Could he go back-to-back? Certainly. But I don’t see him contending this time around.

Make-or-break hole

Jack Dougherty: No. 17

The 18th might be the signature hole at Harbour Town, but even I could hit that fairway with my eyes closed. Let’s go for a tougher challenge and check out the par-3 17th.

The 17th hole at Harbour Town is a long par 3 that can measure over 200 yards. A large bunker guards the entire left side of the green, and you can’t bail out right because of the two smaller bunkers on the opposite side. The key here is gauging the wind that normally blows directly in the face off the tee. Take a few extra clubs on this one and pray you find the green.

Luke Norris: No. 18

Alright, so it’s a bit cliche to go with the signature hole. But we certainly can’t leave out the iconic 18th at Harbour Town, can we? And it will undoubtedly play into the finish of this tournament. While certainly not the most intimidating finisher on the PGA Tour (that fairway is monstrous), this 470-yard par-4 can be difficult if the wind gets to whipping around.

Jordan Spieth had quite the relationship with the 18th a year ago. In the third round, he missed an 18-inch putt on this hole. In the final round, he made birdie to get into the aforementioned playoff with Cantlay. And then he won said playoff with a par on the 18th, getting up and down from the greenside bunker, which Cantlay couldn’t do. So I’ll say it again — the 18th will undoubtedly play into the finish of this tournament.

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