FOR A GOLF tournament that was on the endangered species list a couple years ago, the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing bounced back with vigor and unfolds this week on Hilton Head Island with its strongest field in years.
Signing the high-powered corporate sponsors secured sound financial footing, and the players’ love affair with the setting — Sea Pines Resort and its Harbour Town Golf Links — lured more and more of the top players to the PGA Tour’s lone stop in South Carolina.
Although some big names will be missing, the field of 144 that tees off Thursday includes half of the top 10 in the FedEx points standings, world top-10 performers Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar and seven of the top 14 on this year’s earning list.
Eleven are major champions, including two from 2012 — Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open). The entire cast of the U.S. Open finish —Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Michael Thomson and Jim Furyk — will compete for the winner’s share of the $5.8 million purse. The age spectrum includes Vijay Singh, who is pushing 50, and Jordan Spieth, the teenage phenom who earned more than $500,000 in his first four events.
The biggest winners, however, are off the course. The Heritage Classic Foundation has contributed more than $23 million to charities since 1987, and South Carolina benefits from the tournament’s economic impact of an estimated $80 million annually.
“Our objective is to learn and do better,” said longtime tournament director Steve Wilmot.
The moving of the television compound will create more viewing opportunities around the par-3 17th hole, which often plays a pivotal role in the final round.
SCGA tells its story
For the first time, the SCGA will host a hospitality tent for the general public during the RBC Heritage.
The tent, which will be located adjacent to the 18th fairway at Harbour Town, will have a theme of state junior golf alumni who have made the PGA Tour. Information on the SCGA and its many programs will be available and “Cradle of Champions” T-shirts will be given to youngsters. In addition, an “autograph hound” contest will be conducted; the junior who collects the most autographs each day will win a Harbour Town golf bag. Other prize drawings will be held each day.
The tent will open at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 10:30 on Saturday and Sunday.
Phillip King won the championship flight in the Golfweek Amateur Tour’s tournament at Fort Jackson Golf Club. Other winners: Hiran Hicks, A flight; Lawrence Whiteside, B flight; Tod Little, C flight; and Robert Moye, D flight. Players are placed in flights according to handicap indexes. For information and schedules, call John Livoti at (866) 918-4653. ... Ashlan Ramsey, who will enroll at Clemson in the fall and play on the Tigers’ first women’s golf team, has been named national junior player of the week by Golfweek after finishing 48th in the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.