FILE PHOTO: Jun 12, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm on the 13th tee box during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at Colonial Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
(Reuters) – The top three golfers in the world – Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka – will all try to bounce back from a rough return to competition when they tee it up at this week’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
The trio showed plenty of rust during the PGA Tour’s return from a three-month COVID-19 break last week in Fort Worth, Texas as McIlroy and Koepka finished in a share of 32nd place while Rahm missed the cut.
Things will not get any easier at Harbour Town, which marks the second of five tournaments on the revamped schedule that is closed to spectators, as the stacked field has the feel of a major championship.
World number one McIlroy started the final round last week three shots off the lead but carded a four-over-par 74 to slide well out of contention.
“Obviously, disappointing not to shoot a good one on Sunday, but it was fine,” McIlroy said at Harbour Town, a course he has not competed on since 2009. “I learnt quite a bit from it, and hopefully those lessons I can put into practice this week.”
Also in the field will be three-times major champion Jordan Spieth, who will again be looking to snap a nearly three-year victory drought.
Spieth started the final round last week one shot off the lead but was inconsistent off the tee, something that could get him into even more trouble on the Harbour Town layout.
Defending champion Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan said conditions on the course were warmer and windier than years past, when the event was held in April, but otherwise he feels right at home where he secured his lone PGA Tour win.
“The course setup is quite similar to the last three years I played. So I’m kind of happy to see that,” said Pan. “So I feel like I’m in a familiar spot to play the course.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond