HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — An exhausted, jubilant Jon Rahm wondered if he’d earned a break.
The Masters’ champion, worn out from his four-shot victory last week, thought hard about passing up the RBC Heritage and taking some well-deserved rest.
In the end, Rahm honored his commitment — and will try to become just the second player ever to follow a win at Augusta National with one at Harbour Town Golf Links.
“It did cross my mind, and obviously I think it would have crossed anybody’s because I was so tired,” he said Wednesday. “But that’s why I decided to come in yesterday afternoon and take it easier and just give my body a rest before I got into competition mode.”
And Rahm, No. 1 in the world and a four-time tour winner this season, assured everyone he was in it to win it, just like always.
“I still intend to hopefully do the jacket double and taking this one home,” Rahm said with a smile.
Only Bernhard Langer in 1985 has been able to win the Masters’ green jacket and RBC Heritage’s tartan jacket in back-to-back weeks.
Usually, many of the game’s best take the week off to refresh and relax before the PGA Championship next month, the U.S. Open in June and the British Open in July.
Those who play talk about the seaside course’s relaxed atmosphere after the pressure cooker of Augusta.
A reigning Masters’ champion hasn’t played at Harbour Town since Jordan Spieth in 2015. A tired Spieth, who won this event for the first time last April, opened with a 74 eight years ago, shot 62 the next day to make the cut and finished tied for 11th.
Rahm’s ready to block out the cheers and accolades — the Spaniard got a congratulatory voice mail from Spain’s tennis great, Rafael Nadal — to concentrate on the challenging, tight layout.
He played here once in June 2020 when Harbour Town was the PGA Tour’s second event back after the COVID-19 stoppage.
It was warmer and less windy then, Rahm recalled, than what he’ll see this week. He’s confident his game will emerge as his routine kicks in. “If I can get through the first two days, I think on the weekend, I’ll feel back to normal,” he said.
Scottie Scheffler acknowledged he “just didn’t have it” at Augusta National in defense of his 2022 Master’s title. Still, Scheffler ended in a tie for 10th, eight strokes behind Rahm.
“I definitely imagined myself putting on the (green) jacket at the end of the week, but Jon is a very deserving champion,” Scheffler said. “For me, it was a good memory for the both of us. That was obviously a very special moment in his life, so I was glad I was able to share it with him.”
Scheffler will tee it up at Harbour Town for the first time in his career. It is his 100th start in four PGA Tour seasons.
Scheffler said it’s a straightforward layout he should be able to navigate. “When you stand on each tee box, it pretty much tells you what you need to do,” he said.
Jordan Spieth is bringing a strong showing from the Masters into defense of his RBC Heritage title.
Spieth defeated Cantlay in a playoff for the title at Harbour Town last year. Spieth feels as dialed-in as ever after a stellar stretch that included a tie for fourth at Augusta National last week.
“I’ve been playing really nice golf over the last six, eight weeks and then resting,” Spieth said. “So finding the balance to be prepared to peak as best I can as the tournament goes on.”
The RBC Heritage is the sixth of seven designated PGA Tour events that feature elevated purses ($20 million this year, up from $8 million a year ago) and a best-in-the-game field. The winner receives $3.6 million, more than twice the $1.44 million Spieth earned in 2022.
There are seven of the top 10 players in the World Golf rankings, 28 of the top 30 in FedEx Cup points and all but one of the 20 players who’ve won on the PGA Tour this season. Only Rory McIlroy, who won the CJ Cup at Congaree (about 30 miles from Harbour Town) won’t take part this week after withdrawing Monday.
Odds and ends
No surprise that Rahm and Scheffler are co-favorites this week at 8.5-to-1 to take the title at Harbour Town, according to Fanduel Sportsbook.
Patrick Cantlay is next at 11-to-1 followed by defending champion Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa at 18-to-1. Cam Young, who tied for seventh at the year’s first major last week, was at 20-to-1.