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Odds and Ends

RBC Heritage: Will Anyone Catch Stewart Cink?

by Patrick McDonald
Updated On: April 18, 2021, 10:10 am ET

Stewart Cink holds a commanding five-stroke lead heading into the final round of the RBC Heritage. Looking for his third tournament title and first since 2004, Cink played relatively stress-free golf after a rocky start. After a bogey on the par-4 3rd hole, which played the most difficult hole of the day, Cink birdied two in a row and went on to card a 2-under 69. 

If not for a late push by Collin Morikawa, Cink’s lead could have been even bigger. After an even-par front nine that was riddled with missed short putts, Morikawa caught fire on his inward half. Morikawa made birdie on four out of his last six holes to secure a spot in the final pairing alongside Cink on Sunday. Morikawa sits five back and will likely need to shoot something in the low-60's in order to steal the famous tartan jacket from Cink.  

While many stalled in the afternoon, the morning wave of play was not short of fireworks. Webb Simpson, the defending champion, made the most noticeable leap up the leaderboard. Simpson wrapped up his bogey-free round of 64 just as the leaders were teeing off. Simpson finally figured things out on the greens as he led in Strokes Gained: Putting on Saturday, gaining 3.54 strokes on the field. 

Other players to make the most of their moving day were Matt Wallace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Both of them turned in rounds of 6-under 65. While Wallace sits at 11-under for the tournament, Bezuidenhout sits at 9-under. Both will need to improve on their Saturday rounds if they want to have a chance to win. 

The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have made clear that this tournament is officially a two-man race. Cink sits as the heavy favorite at -250, with Morikawa not far behind at +500. From a betting perspective, they are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the field. 

Updated Odds (via PointsBet)

-250: Stewart Cink 

+500: Collin Morikawa 

+2200: Emiliano Grillo 

+3300: Sungjae Im 

+4000: Matt Wallace 

+5000: Webb Simpson 

+7000: Corey Conners, Matthew Fitzpatrick 

Round 4 Plays:

Webb Simpson (+170 top-5 finish): 

Coming into the week, I mentioned that I didn't love Simpson because his week may come down to his chipping and putting. Admittingly, after the first two rounds, I felt rather good about my prediction. But after seeing Simpson's performance on the greens in Round 3, I will back track a bit. It is highly unlikely that Simpson comes from eight strokes back and catches Cink, but I still believe there is value in him finishing inside the top-5.

The defending champion looked like his normal self on Saturday. With the ball-striking in tune through the first two round, Simpson was lacking his typical putting prowess. As I previously mentioned, Simpson finally found the sweet spot on the greens and I expect him to continue to roll in putts tomorrow. Simpson currently sits one stroke outside of the top-5 and if he putts like he did today, he should surely find himself inside the top-5 at tournament's end.

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Shane Lowry (+850 top-10 finish): 

This one may not be for the faint of heart. Trust me when I say that the pieces of the puzzle were there for Lowry this week. He has had enough fire power to contend, but unfortunately the mistakes have added up. At +850, I'm hoping that Lowry finally puts together a mistake-free round and charges up the leaderboard, similar to his final round at The Players.

Lowry currently sits 15th for the week in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Most of that can be contributed to his iron play, which was actually rather lackluster in Round 1. Going into Round 4, he is tied for 27th-place and is only three-strokes back of the top-10. He lost nearly four strokes chipping and putting on Saturday, which was the primary factor in Lowry shooting a 1-over 72. This was surprising, as Lowry has long been known as one of the best chippers in professional golf. I expect him to fix that heading into the final round and finally avoid the big numbers.

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Patrick McDonald

Patrick McDonald joined NBC Sports EDGE in the spring of 2021. When he’s not chasing longshots, he’s chasing his golf ball around the local muni. You can find Patrick on Twitter @AmateurStatus.