2014 RBC Heritage | Five players to watch

Graeme McDowell
USA Today Sports Images
Graeme McDowell is the defending champion at this week's RBC Heritage.
By T.J. Auclair, Senior Interactive Producer
PGA.com
Connect with T.J.

Series: Golf Buzz

One week after the pressure cooker that is the Masters, many PGA Tour players head to Hilton Head Island, S.C., for rest, relaxation, family time and the RBC Heritage and breathtaking Harbour Town.

Don't confuse the rest and relaxation with not intending to be competitive in the tournament -- that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that in terms of venue and surroundings, you're not likely to find a more comfortable place on tour than the Sea Pines Resort.

RELATED: RBC Heritage tee times | Photos: RBC Heritage & more | Tom Watson's blog

The RBC Heritage provides a great mix -- guys coming off a high or low depending on their Masters performance and guys not otherwise exempt already for the 2015 Masters to punch the first ticket to next year's first major with a victory.

With that, here are five players to watch at the 2014 RBC Heritage.

5. Boo Weekley
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Outside of that T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, it's been a lackluster year for Weekley, who enters this week having missed the cut in each of his last two starts (the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters). If ever there were a place to get the train back on the tracks, this is it. Weekley has three wins on the PGA Tour in his career and two of them came in back-to-back years (2007, 2008) at Harbour Town. He's also been in the top 13 three times after those wins. A horse for this course, indeed.

4. Davis Love III
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T26 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: Five of Love's impressive 20 career PGA Tour wins have come in this tournament, including the first of his career way back in 1987. He loves this place. And you know what he loathes? Missing the Masters. He hasn't played in the Masters since 2011 and would love to get back there. Love turned 50 years old on Sunday, but he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who's ready to leave the PGA Tour for the Champions Tour. And though he hasn't had a win on Tour since 2008, Harbour Town is the kind of place where Love is more than capable of sneaking up on everyone.

3. Graeme McDowell
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Third WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Let's state the obvious first -- McDowell is a favorite this week because he's the defending champion. You're also not likely to find too many players reeling more so than McDowell over last week's Masters. Sure, he missed the cut. It's time to move on. However, McDowell was red hot going into the Masters. He hadn't won yet this season, but did have five top-10 finishes in just seven starts. Maybe it was a case of wanting it too much. Or, maybe Augusta National just doesn't fit his eye (it was his fifth missed cut there in seven starts). Either way, he bounced back from a missed cut a the Masters last year with a win at the Heritage. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened again this week.

2. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Winner of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: After a scorching hot start to 2014 -- three top-8 finishes, including a win -- Johnson, understandably, cooled off a touch. However, it was still a surprise to see the 2007 Masters champ miss his first cut of the season a week ago at Augusta National. Johnson will get back on track this week in Hilton Head, where he was the runner up in 2012.

1. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Second at the Shell Houston Open
Reason to watch: OK. Something's got to give for Kuchar. His last three starts look like this: T4 Valero Texas Open; Runner up in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open; T5 at the Masters. Overall, Kuchar has seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts on Tour this season. He's a victory waiting to happen and -- with as often as he contends -- it's hard to believe he's got just six PGA Tour wins (that's a great career for most). With the hot run he's been on, Kuchar could be in store for a letdown. I just don't think that'll be the case this week.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.