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Cameron Jourdan

J.T. Poston has his own ‘Scottie’ good-luck charm among first-round takeaways from the 2024 RBC Heritage

Another week, another signature event on the PGA Tour.

The first round of the 2024 RBC Heritage is in the books, and numerous players took advantage of softer conditions at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, meaning birdies were aplenty on Thursday.

J.T. Poston holds the solo lead, and he has Scottie (no, not that one) to thank. Meanwhile, the Masters champion got off to a slow-ish start, but he finished strong after grinding through the middle of his round.

And in between, there are plenty of players crowding the top of the leaderboard with no major separation after 18 holes of play.

RBC Heritage: Photos

Here’s what you need to know from the opening round of the 2024 RBC Heritage:

J.T. Poston also has a Scottie connection

J.T. Poston hits a tee shot on the third hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 18, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

There’s another important Scottie at Harbour Town this week. Katherine “Scottie” Poston, J.T. Poston’s daughter, who was born March 20, is with Poston for the first time since she was born. Along with wife Kelly, the Postons are off to a great start on Hilton Head Island.

Poston opened in 8-under 63 on Thursday to take the solo lead at the RBC Heritage. The 63 is the fifth time Poston has opened in 63 during a Tour event since the 2016-17 season, tied with Jordan Spieth for the most during that span. He had nine birdies and a lone blemish on the card to complete a stellar opening round.

“Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe she’s a good luck charm,” Poston said of his daughter. “It’s been great. It’s definitely an adjustment. I think my wife and I were figuring it out. My mom is here. She’s helping us out, too. So we’ve got plenty of help. We’re just kind of figuring it out. But it’s good to have them here and sort of takes away the pressure of — I’m not worrying about golf when I’m at home. I’m trying to change diapers and take care of her.”

In the last five years at the RBC Heritage, Poston has finished in the top 10 three times while missing the cut in 2021 and 2023.

His 8-under start has opened up a two-shot lead on Seamus Power and Collin Morikawa.

He said the tournament is one he has circled on the calendar at the beginning of every year because he enjoys Harbour Town so much. Even with the extra responsibilities off the course, Poston is focused on playing strong golf on it. And he had no issues with that Thursday.

“My wife has been great,” Poston said, “She knows this is just how it is. We have to spend some time on the golf course. I’ve got to work on my game. I’ve got to stay sharp. She’s been awesome giving me the time to do that, and I’m not taking it for granted. I’m trying to be productive and get back home when I can help.”

Austin Eckroat as a patron

Austin Eckroat walks the first hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 18, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

As Austin Eckroat explains it, he was struggling with “everything” last week at Augusta National, resulting in him missing the cut.

“I came off a really good stretch, and all of a sudden I couldn’t hit the golf ball,” he said. “It’s never far away from good golf, but it’s also — you’re never that far away from struggling a little bit.”

Eckroat didn’t touch a golf club on the weekend, instead taking a spot outside the ropes as a patron on Saturday at Augusta National to get away a bit and have a different experience.

And it paid off. Eckroat’s refocused approach resulted in an opening 5-under 66 on Thursday. The winner of the Cognizant Classic earlier this season had six birdies and a lone bogey, and he said his weekend refresh contributed to the quick start.

“It was honestly a really enjoyable weekend to go and watch the Masters,” Eckroat said. “I had never done it and tried to take some notes on some guys playing well. Sunday I watched at home and then ended up driving over here and took it easy.

“I went and watched Amen Corner. That was a really cool area. I wanted to see Tiger at least hit one shot, so I watched Tiger hit his tee ball on 10 and then I just hung out on 13. We had a good spot where we could see the second shots, and it was a really cool spot.”

Sahith Theegala's learning experience

Sahith Theegala reacts to a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 18, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Theegala wants to play every week on the PGA Tour. It irritates him when he’s off because he still watches golf on TV and wonders why he isn’t in the field. But he knows that’s not possible.

He went into this year with a goal of building a smarter schedule to handle the signature events and majors better. And thus far, he feels as if it is paying off.

Theegala is in the group of players at 5 under and three back of Poston. He fired a bogey-free 66 on Thursday coming off a T-45 at the Masters last week.

“I haven’t played quite as much, and my body is thanking me,” Theegala said. “I feel like I have more energy for the bigger events, which is awesome. It’s really worked out well at the start of the year.

“I joke with my buddies all the time. I would always say I’m playing every event I get into, half-jokingly, but I was like, I’m not missing a Tour event. We’ve grinded our whole lives to get here and now I’m just going to be skipping a bunch of events. It feels weird to take it off, but I see the benefit in doing so. That’s probably been the number one answer when I’ve asked guys that have played out here for a long time, what’s their secret to the longevity. It’s really not pushing it.”

Scheffler finishes strong

Scottie Scheffler hits a tee shot on the third hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 18, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth were paired together for the first round of the RBC Heritage, and through five holes, Spieth was 4 under and Scheffler was 1 over. By day’s end, Scheffler nicked his fellow Longhorn and Dallas resident by a shot.

Scheffler’s incredible consistency again showed Thursday, as he opened in 2-under 69, just four days removed from his second Masters victory. Scheffler didn’t get to Harbour Town until later in the week and played only nine holes on the back side during the pro-am portion of his warm-up. Yet even after an early shank on a bunker shot that resulted in a double, Scheffler settled in and birdied Nos. 16-17 to card 2 under.

“It would have felt better if I got off to a better start, but I tried to give myself a little bit of grace there, but I got pretty frustrated towards the middle of the round because I was playing good, felt like I was hitting good putts, and my speed was maybe a touch off,” Scheffler said. “I think I was maybe too settled down to start the day. I wasn’t quite into the competition. I think maybe it was a bit of fatigue, whatever it was. But I felt like I was still kind of getting adjusted to the golf course.”

Scheffler made birdie on the par-5 second before the double on the third. He carded the second of his four birdies on the par-3 seventh and then had eight straight pars before his consecutive birdies.

In his last four starts, Scheffler has three wins and a T-2. And in that T-2, Scheffler was a couple putts away from forcing a playoff or even winning outright. He mentioned he didn’t get as much work in on the greens at Harbour Town this week, but who can blame him? He has plenty of things going on in his life, including his first child being born in the coming weeks, as well.

“I think sometimes that frustration from not playing my best I think kind of helps me focus sometimes,” Scheffler said. “You can use that as good energy and you can use that as bad energy, so I tried to use it as best I could for the good stuff today.”

Collin Morikawa continues Masters momentum

Collin Morikawa reacts after making a birdie on the 10th hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 18, 2024 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Up until last week, Collin Morikawa was searching for his game. Yet for the second straight week, he looks like the player who won two major championships.

Morikawa is two shots back after an opening 65 that included seven birdies and one bogey. And a week after a T-3 at the Masters, Morikawa is in great position after the opening 18 holes at Harbour Town.

“Especially the way I’ve been playing, you never know how it’s going to be. But when you find this little rhythm and you find this kind of — just pathway, just to play golf, it’s very simple. Sometimes when you’re playing bad, you look back and you wonder why it can’t be that simple.”

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