Matthew Fitzpatrick made his move on Saturday
Matthew Fitzpatrick made his move on Saturday

Golf betting tips: Final-round preview and best bets for the RBC Heritage

Matthew Fitzpatrick is in search of his first victory since last summer's US Open, but fellow major winners are in pursuit at the RBC Heritage. Read our final-round preview.

Golf betting tips: RBC Heritage

2pts win Matt Fitzpatrick at 9/4 (General)

0.5pts e.w. Jon Rahm at 125/1 (Sky Bet 1/5 1,2,3)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

MATT FITZPATRICK winning at the venue where he used to spend holidays with his family can be viewed as a wonderful destiny or something just a little too cute. Like plenty of others, I backed him a few times for this event after discovering that little nugget about his connections to Hilton Head but was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed by his finishes.

From his first appearance in 2014 he posted 23-MC-MC-14-39-14 in six starts up until 2020. Despite him describing this as his ‘favourite tournament’, the results weren’t reflecting it so I gave up on the idea. A fourth place in 2021 suggested he could come good but last year’s missed cut seemed confirmation that continually backing Fitzpatrick in this event at relatively short odds was chucking money away.

But here we are in 2023 and the Fitzpatrick family dream story is now only 5/2 after the Englishman, who first visited Hilton Head Island at the age of just six, surged to the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 8-under 63 on Saturday.

Perhaps diligent Matt started his well-known note-keeping on every golf shot and weather conditions when he came here as a small boy. In that case, somewhere in an A4 binder alongside old crayon drawings of that nice red and white lighthouse there might be a record of his mood in grotty weather at Hilton Head.

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Yep, it’s going to be a rainy one and organisers have moved tee-times forward, putting the players into three-balls. Fitzpatrick (14-under) goes off in the final group at 1pm local alongside Patrick Cantlay (13-under) and Jordan Spieth (12-under), the two players who contested last year’s playoff.

An obvious question: how does Fitzpatrick perform when holding a final-round lead. The evidence from the PGA Tour is small but positive. Fitzpatrick was one clear after 54 holes at Bay Hill in 2019 and finished runner-up while last year he was tied at the top with Will Zalatoris going into the final round of the US Open and won.

That latter performance, which included a brilliant winning par at the last from an awkward position in a fairway bunker, came at The Country Club in Brookline, the place where he’d captured the US Amateur in 2013. In other words, what a great omen. Fitzpatrick does do cute, happy stories with fairytale endings!

On the DP World Tour, he’s also done plenty of converting from this position. In fact, go through Fitzpatrick’s 10 third-round leads on both main tours and he’s never finished worse than runner-up. That breaks down into five wins and five seconds so history says backers are almost guaranteed a run for their money.

In his seminal ‘Golf Betting’ books of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Keith Elliott talked about ‘The Law of Hilton Head’, a phenomenon that said you should ignore backing players in this event who had been in serious contention at the previous week’s Masters. Fitzpatrick was 10th there and not nearer than that after each round: 17th, 20th and 15th were his positions at the close of each lap.

In other words, he looks an ideal candidate to succeed this week: he was never under the gun at Augusta and yet played well enough to secure just his second top 10 finish in nine starts at the year’s first Major.

So far this season on the PGA Tour, 13 third-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to claim victory. That’s 54% if I’ve added things up correctly and ignored silly season pairs events and it’s the final piece of evidence to make me have a play on Fitzpatrick at 5/2 with Sky Bet.

It’s easy to argue for 11/4 Cantlay, 6/1 Spieth or 8/1 Scottie Scheffler (three back) on who they are but Scheffler is in a five-way tie for fourth and there are seven others a further stroke back at 10-under. So if I’m backing Fitzpatrick, I want to balance the staking plan with someone at much bigger odds.

And, this may sound a bit daft, but I have a sneaky feeling that newly-crowned Masters champion JON RAHM could throw in something ridiculous (in a good way) on Sunday. He falls into the bracket - and it’s not that unusual to see - of players whose four days comprise average start, surging Friday, flat Saturday, lights out Sunday. Rahm has done the first three parts of the sequence via rounds of 72-64-69.

While there are plenty of players to climb over, Rahm starts the day only six off the lead and four behind third place. A 63, perhaps helped by the weather turning against the nine groups he’ll have behind him, could take him a long way up that leaderboard. Sure, this is a bit of a punt but the Spaniard isn’t 40s, 50s or 66s to pull off this Sunday stunt and sneak into the top three (or even win!): Rahm is 125/1 with Sky Bet.

Of course, an opening bogey or two could derail him instantly but he’ll see this as a bit of a free hit. And if a few putts drop early - he birdied the first three holes on Saturday and four of the first five in round two - the aura of the green jacket could help him shoot something silly. A check of Rahm’s last 10 closing rounds highlights a Sunday 62 in October’s Open de Espana and a closing 63 in January's Sentry Tournament of Champions. He has it in him.

Posted at 0920 BST on 16/04/23

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