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The final leaderboard for the 2016 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina is in. 27-year-old Branden Grace shot a 5-under 66 to win the tournament by two strokes over runners-up Russell Knox and Luke Donald. It’s Grace’s first PGA Tour win and it moves him to #11 in the OWGR. Below is the truncated top-10 leaderboard:
(1) Branden Grace (-9)
(T2) Russell Knox (-7)
(T2) Luke Donald (-7)
(T4) Bryson DeChambeau (-5)
(T4) Kevin Na (-5)
(T6) Bryce Molder (-4)
(T6) Whee Kim (-4)
(T6) Jason Kokrak (-4)
(T9) Ricky Barnes (-3)
(T9) Aaron Baddeley (-3)
(T9) William McGirt (-3)
(T9) Kevin Chappell (-3)
(T9) Matt Kuchar (-3)
Here are my thoughts and a few statistics on the champion and some notable golfers near the top of the leaderboard:
Winner: Branden Grace (-9) – The last three winners on the PGA Tour have all been first-timers — this includes Grace, Danny Willett at the Masters and Jim Herman at the Shell Houston Open. You may recall Grace coming close at last year’s U.S. Open, where he fell out of contention with at out-of-bounds tee shot, as well as at the PGA Championship. This guy certainly shows real promise, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him in a position to win a major this year.
Last year Grace finished T7 at the RBC Heritage, an indication of good course form at Harbour Town Golf Links that probably served to help him this week. In his last four Tour starts at the Masters, WGC-Dell Match Play, Valspar and WGC-Cadillac Championship, he finished MC, T33, T37 and T23 respectively — not particularly good results, so I can’t imagine many people (not including Ernie Els) put money on him to win this week. Although he has no other PGA Tour wins, he has several European Tour wins (his most recent being the 2016 Qatar Masters, a tournament he defended successfully from 2015) and several Sunshine Tour wins under his belt.
Final round: 7 birdies and 2 bogeys for a 5-under 66. His back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 vaulted him into a lead which he never relinquished, even with a bogey on 17. A two-putt from 40 feet on the last sealed the deal. Scores in regulation: 66, 74, 69, 66 (275).
— Branden Grace (@BrandenGrace) April 17, 2016
Luke Donald (-7) – This is Donald’s only top-5 of the whole 2016 season. A win here would have been his sixth on the Tour and his first since the 2012 Transitions Championship (now known as the Valspar), where he beat three others in a playoff. Previous finishes at the RBC Heritage for Donald include a T15 in 2015, solo second in 2014 (behind Matt Kuchar), T3 in 2013, T27 in 2012 and a P2 (lost playoff) in 2011 — fantastic history of good play at Harbour Town Golf Links, and this was apparently just a continuation of that course form. In addition to Donald’s 5 Tour wins, he has 7 European Tour wins and 2 Japan Tour wins under his belt. It looks like former World No. 1 Donald is chomping at the bit to get another Tour win; while he’s long overdue for one, when exactly it will happen still remains a big question.
Final round: 2 birdies and 2 bogeys for an even-under 71. Despite 2 birdies on the front nine, he wasn’t able to get anything going on the back and closed with 8 straight pars. Scores in regulation: 66, 71, 69, 71 (277).