Breakdown of RBC Heritage 2020 ranking, takeout: Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson impress in the first round


After an exciting week back on the PGA tour as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, the opening round of the RBC Heritage 2020 at Hilton Head, South Carolina, was just as exciting. Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard co-lead after 18 holes after both shooting early 7 -64 years, but just beyond, the classification becomes a little more titillating.Harbor Town Golf Links is always a fascinating stop on the PGA tour. Its tiny greens and short holes often play far from the hands of the biggest PGA Tour boppers and help guys like Poulter (or Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson) fight. It’s a great break in the mammoth parks that the PGA Tour visits otherwise. We saw it again on Thursday with a stylistically diverse ranking. We are going to take a look.

T1. Ian Poulter, Mark Hubbard (-7): Poulter was almost perfect in his 64 without a bogey. Sure, the putter worked a little, but its iron play was sublime. Hitting 14 of 18 regulation greens is incredibly impressive, and he finished second in approach shots. Poulter is not among the longest drivers on the PGA Tour – and he was not on Thursday – but in a place like Harbor Town, it often doesn’t matter. If it will be difficult for him to go side by side in this area, the big game is certainly sustainable given the way he hits his irons.

T3. Webb Simpson, Sebastian Munoz, Viktor Hovland, Michael Thompson, Dylan Frittelli, Brice Garnett, Ryan Palmer (-6): I picked Simpson last week when he missed the cup at Colonial. So, of course, he played his first 10 holes in 6 cents on Thursday. Here’s the scary part for the rest of the pack: he didn’t even play very well. Simpson has always thrived in Harbor Town, and it’s not hard to understand why. He is elite with irons in his hand – among the best in the game on approach shots – but not among the biggest hitters in the game. Places like Harbor Town (and usually Colonial) suit him perfectly and allow his greatest gifts to really shine. He’s your new 7-1 favorite after 18 holes, and depending on how he hit him on Thursday, that’s exactly what it should be.

T10. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Erik van Rooyen, Mackenzie Hughes (-5): This is what I mean by stylistic diversity in the ranking. The 15 players in the top 10 come in all shapes and sizes of swing, but among this group of 5 sous, Spieth stands out. Spieth still stands out because it is historically relevant, but his last two weeks in particular have been a paradise for thrill seekers. The main question here for golfers is whether his 66 Thursday – which included eight birdies and a triple because of course he did – is sustainable for the rest of the week. The answer in this case is … probably. Spieth led the iron lead pack, and despite some misconduct (he lost two shots alone on his triple bogey hole), his tee-to-green play seems to be improving considerably. I am excited (and scared) for the next three days.

T16. Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger (-4): These four are among a huge crowd at 4 cents, and all of them are intriguing stories before the second round. Fowler (missed cut) and Koepka (T32) weren’t so good last week and haven’t been in shape all season. Golf is most interesting when the two are in full view. Berger won last week and is trying to go back, which seems impossible given the field strength of these two tournaments.

It’s DeChambeau who captivated the world of golf recently. Despite a short track in Harbor Town, he still finished in the top 10 in driving distance and almost led the pack in wins on the tee. He recalled it a bit, and in doing so, he shows his full set of skills (of which there are many). I’ll be locked into everything he does (or says or eats) early Friday morning in the second round.

T108. Rory McIlroy (+1): Disappointing day for McIlroy, who was not very good from tee to green. Although he is an incredible sniper, his poor shots won on the starting numbers and 50% of the fairways struck suggest that the course is uncomfortable for him out of the starting line. Although it remains to be seen whether this is the reality or just an anomaly in Round 1, he will have to go a little further on Friday to make the cut and be able to make noise at the weekend.

CBS Sports has been with you throughout the process of updating this story with the latest scores, updates and highlights from RBC Heritage below. Check the scores at the top of this story or a more detailed ranking.


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