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On the Tee: RBC Heritage at Hilton Head

by | CBSSports.com Senior Golf Columnist
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Brandt Snedeker beat Luke Donald in a playoff to win last year's event. (Getty Images)  
Brandt Snedeker beat Luke Donald in a playoff to win last year's event. (Getty Images)  

Everything you need to know about the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head:

Nuts and bolts

Tee times | Hole by hole | Past champions

Defending the throne

For as much acclaim as Brandt Snedeker generated in winning at Torrey Pines earlier this season, when he trailed by seven shots at one point in the final round and by four on the last hole, his feat at Hilton Head last year was nearly as insane.

He's becoming the comeback king, in fact.

In all three of his PGA Tour wins, he trailed by at least five shots going into the last round. At Hilton Head last year, he came from six shots back and wound up beating Luke Donald, now No. 1 in the world, in a playoff.

Snedeker posted a blistering 64 in the final round on the par-71 course, then had to wait two hours for the leaders to finish, at which point it took three holes to top Donald in a sudden-death playoff.

Snedeker, one of the best putters in the game, made eight putts from eight feet or beyond in the final round, and an eye-popping total of 132 feet of putts on Sunday. For the week, Snedeker converted an impressive 10 of 19 putts when putting from 10-20 feet (53 percent).

After signing, he had to sit back and sweat out what the players in the last few groups did. Snedeker admitted it was like a waterboarding torture.

"That was the longest two hours of my life," he said. "It was brutal. I tried to watch some of the golf, but then I never want to root against anybody, so it became hard to watch the golf, because I don't want them to do badly, but I don't want them to do great, either."

Interestingly, Donald could have become world No. 1 if he had won the playoff, a position he would eventually claim a few weeks later after winning in Europe.

Venue and you

Part of the Sea Pines Resort, the Harbour Town tournament track was designed in 1970 by Pete Dye and an apprentice named Jack W. Nicklaus, who was just getting his feet wet in the architect game. As a resort, it is open to public play, with green fees running in the $260 range. There are twilight rates and other hotel-room bundling options.

Track and field

With the tournament struggling to find a sponsor to extend itself, a slew of players turned out last year at Hilton Head, both to show support and in case it was the event's last hurrah. In 2011, the tournament drew five of the top 15 and 15 from the top 50. This year, the totals are roughly the same in a broader sense. A total of three from the top 15 and 17 of the top 50 have committed.

Three whacks from short range

 The designs of Pete Dye are often considered an acquired taste, but when it looked like Hilton Head's tour stop might be on life support last year, players stepped up to sing the praises of the Harbour Town venue. In fact, in a magazine poll of tour player, the course ranked No. 1 among actual PGA Tour venues in popularity. Augusta National was first, but that tournament isn't run by the tour. With a new title sponsor and a five-year deal, the tournament has legs to last a while.

 The brand-new title sponsor, Royal Bank of Canada, also sponsors the Canadian Open and has found an interesting way to deliver top players to their events. A slew of prominent guys were signed to bag deals -- meaning the RBC logo has been festooned on the bags of players such as Luke Donald, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk. If you want to call that a backdoor appearance fee, you'd technically be pretty close to the truth. Actual appearance fees are forbidden in U.S. tour events, of course. Wink, wink.

 What makes Harbour Town unique? It's short, tight and has some of the smallest greens in the global game. In fact, the tournament produces more holeouts from off the green than any other U.S. venue -- meaning chip-ins, drained bunker explosions or pitches. In three of the past four years, the course had produced the most holed shots from off the green on tour, twice topping 100. The other year? Second-most. Tiny greens mean shorter chip shots, and these guys are deadly from close range.

Odds and evens

Odds on winning, via Golfodds.com and the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino:

Luke Donald, 7/1; Matt Kuchar, 12/1; Jim Furyk, 15/1; Webb Simpson, 20/1; Bo Van Pelt, 20/1; Ernie Els, 25/1; Brandt Snedeker, 25/1; Aaron Baddeley, 25/1; Zach Johnson, 30/1; Jason Dufner, 30/1; Kevin Na 30/1.

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