The beauty of golf betting is the opportunity that it gives one to back live chances at long odds and that is the case with Luke Donald in the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island.
Donald missed the Masters Tournament cut after receiving a two-stroke penalty for testing the sand in a bunker during his first round, otherwise he would have made the weekend at the Augusta National Golf Club. Therefore, one is inclined to forgive Donald for not making to the third round of the Masters Tournament and focus on his performances at the Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the RBC Heritage.
Eight times Donald has rocked up at the Harbour Town Golf Links for a PGA Tour event and, even though he has not won any of their eight tournaments, his numbers are outstanding, particularly over the last five years. Donald missed the cut in two of his first three cracks at Harbour Town Golf Links in the early 2000s. That was when Donald was a long way from being one of the world’s highest ranked golfers so, again, one is willing to put those results in the forgive basket.
Donald did not complete at the Harbour Town Golf Links from 2005 to 2008 inclusive but, since making the highly rated Hilton Head Island course on his regular PGA Tour stops in 2009, the Englishman has done everything except win. Donald was second to Brian Gay in 2009, third to Jim Furyk in 2010, second to Brandt Snedeker on 2011, 37th to Carl Pettersson in 2012 and third to Graeme McDowell in 2013. Other golfers have excellent Harbour Town Golf Links form figures – for example, Boo Weekly is a two-time course champion and Furyk has six top 10s from 11 starts – but Donald’s four top threes in the last five years takes the biscuit.
If one ignores Donald’s Masters Tournament missed cut then his recent form is up to the level that one likes to see in golfers that one wants to back. Donald warmed up for the Masters Tournament with a 24th-place finish in the Houston Open in which he shot four identical rounds of 71. Before that, Donald had placed fourth in the Valspar Championship, 25th in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, eighth in the Honda Classic, 33rd in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and 31st in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. Those are fine numbers for Donald’s seven PGA Tour appearances this season.
The Harbour Town Golf Links suits Donald’s game. Voted one of the favourite courses of PGA Tour regulars – frequently it has ranked second only to the Augusta National Golf Club – the Harbour Town Golf Links is an acclaimed Pete Dye track on which it is hugely important to keep the ball in play. The punishment for missing the fairway is not so much having to hit subsequent shots out of rough but having to hit away from the target because trees stand in the way. Donald keeps the ball in play well – one would say that his best major performances have occurred in US Opens, where greens in regulation is a key statistic – and he puts well on the Bermuda greens that test Harbour Town Golf Links visitors.
One could criticise Donald for not winning more titles – he has five PGA Tour victories and seven European Tour wins to his credit – but he is a former world number one who has Harbour Town Golf Links course form for which to die.
Masters Tournament runner-up Jordan Spieth heads the RBC Heritage betting but one could make a rock-solid case for Donald being the rightful favourite and, therefore, he is worth supporting at odds of 21.00 with Bwin and Unibet. Spieth is trading at general odds of 17.00.