Cameron Smith takes the solo lead into the second round of the RBC Heritage. Smith took the afternoon wave by storm. With winds freshening, Smith fired a bogey-free 62 to take a one-stroke lead. Smith birdied three out of his last four holes, highlighted by a holed bunker shot on the 17th hole. The clean scorecard can be attributed to Smith’s chipping and putting as he gained more than seven combined strokes on and around the greens.
While Smith was the story of the afternoon, Stewart Cink was the subject of the morning headlines. The 2000 and 2004 champion utilized a balanced approach en route to an 8-under 63. The only trouble came on the very first swing of the day, as Cink found water off the tee. He went on to save bogey, his only of the day. From then on, Cink didn't look back, as he would go on to add seven birdies and an eagle to his scorecard.
As for some of the tournament favorites, the big three of Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, and Patrick Cantlay fell flat out of the gate. Of the bunch, Johnson was the lone player to break par with a round of 1-under 70, while Simpson and Cantlay both came home in Even.
If you think one of the pre-tournament favorites still has a chance to claw his way back into the tournament, I’d suggest Simpson at +8000 as the ball-striking was actually pretty good. Unfortunately, it was Simpson’s chipping and putting that let him down. Despite having numerous chances, he was only able to convert one birdie opportunity. I expect Simpson to figure it out on the greens and make birdies in bunches come Friday morning.
Despite a career-low round from Smith, this tournament is far from over. The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook currently have Smith listed as the favorite at +300. But there are a number of big names hot on his heels, mainly Collin Morikawa at +600 and Daniel Berger at +1400.
Updated Odds (via PointsBet):
+300: Cameron Smith
+600: Collin Morikawa
+1000: Stewart Cink
+1400: Daniel Berger
+1800: Matt Wallace
+2500: Brian Harman
+3000: Will Zalatoris
+3300: Kevin Streelman
Round 2 Plays:
To Win: Sungjae Im (+4000)
I typically don’t love to add more players to the betting card before the weekend, but I think it’s safe to say that Im is in a solid position moving forward. The concern with Im leading into the week was his irons. Over the past two months Im’s approach numbers have seriously deteriorated. He has been getting around the golf course and posting quality finishes mainly due to his putter, which historically is his weakness.
However en route to a first-round 68, Im may have figured something out with his ball-striking as he gained nearly 3.5 strokes on the field in the category. Sitting only six strokes back with 54 holes yet to be played, Im is in striking distance. He didn’t get nearly enough out of his first round, playing the par-5s in even par and struggling from around the greens. I expect Im to make a run Friday afternoon and improve his positioning on both the leaderboard and odds board heading into the weekend.
I was high on Ghim pre-tournament and his play from round one did nothing to shy me away. The former Texas Longhorn struck his irons beautifully, only for the rest of his game to disappoint. Ghim started the day playing defense as he nearly hit his opening tee-shot into the water and scrambled for bogey. Despite his driver being uncooperative all day, Ghim was still managed to hit 14 out of 18 greens and currently ranks seventh in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. With the irons honed in, I expect Ghim to straighten it out off the tee and roll in a few more putts on the greens.
Between Hoffman and Seiffert, the main threat to Ghim in this three-ball is Hoffman. He’s the favorite for a reason, but on Thursday his iron play was very concerning. He lost more than a stroke on approach in Round 1 and if not for a hot putter, his round of 3-under 68 could have easily been 3 over. I’m willing to wager that the putter will cool off, giving Ghim an opening to take this one.
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