Notes from RBC Heritage, Wednesday

info@islandpacket.comApril 11, 2012 

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem never doubted the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing would get a new title sponsor after Verizon left in 2010.

"We weren't going to let it go away," he said while walking between holes at Wednesday's pro-am at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Finchem said the tournament ended up with two outstanding sponsors, and it helps that RBC already sponsors the RBC Canadian Open.

Finchem said the Heritage is in the top four tournaments on tour in the eyes of the players.

He played in the pro-am with pro Zach Johnson; Pete Dye, who designed the Harbour Town Golf Links along with Jack Nicklaus; Bill Goodwin, whose family owns Sea Pines Resort and the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, where the PGA Championship will be played in August; and Bobby Ukrop, a Richmond, Va., businessman.

Johnson said it was an honor to play the course with Dye, who still holds his own on the links at age 86.

"I learned a couple of things about the course along the way," Johnson said.

Dye said the Harbour Town course "is in the best shape it's ever been in."

He was asked to sign autographs throughout the round. When he signed a pair of golf shoes for 10-year Heritage volunteer Jim Carnavale, Dye said it was a first.

Willie to take to the skies

The tournament's man in plaid takes his "Tartan Rules" to the sky early today.

Tournament mascot Sir William "Willie" Innes will board the MetLife Blimp to flex Tartan Rule No. 2: If the MetLife Blimp can't get its plaid on, we'll get the plaid inside.

Willie will take a lap over Harbour Town Golf Links at 1,000 feet in Snoopy 1.

He'll share his experience, pictures and videos on his Facebook page and on Twitter at twitter.com/WillieHeritage.

Vigilant volunteers help spectators duck errant shots

Breezy conditions mixed with a tight course caused spectators to duck tee shots Wednesday.

Off the 18th fairway at Harbour Town Golf Links, tournament forecaddy Steve Hyslop with Hilton Head Rotary, yelled, "Be careful, golfer on deck" just as a bail sailed to the side of the tree he ducked behind, bouncing two feet shy of a spectator late Wednesday morning.

Hyslop said about a dozen balls hit by amateurs playing in Wednesday's Pro-am had either hit nearby condo roofs, sailed over them or came close to striking tournament watchers.

Winds of 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph, also carried balls from the 16th tee into the 10th fairway. One person was hit and checked over by medics, but did not require medical care, a tournament official said.

Gov. Haley's husband hosts tournament Friday

The inaugural First Gentleman's Invitational golf tournament is to be held Friday at the Long Cove Club on Hilton Head Island to stimulate economic growth in the state.

It is being hosted by Michael Haley, husband of Gov. Nikki Haley.

About 40 leaders of existing businesses and industries in the state, as well as some prospects, have been invited, Michael Haley said.

It is being sponsored at no cost to the state by the South Carolina Power Team, the economic-development alliance of the state-owned electric utility, Santee Cooper, and the state's 20 electric cooperatives.

The event resulted from conversations between the governor's office, the Department of Commerce; and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Michael Haley said.

He said the concept grew from state efforts to find a new title sponsor for the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. It was played without a title sponsor last year.

In the process, the state saw a need to stay in constant contact with businesses and industries in South Carolina and assist any that want to expand, Haley said.

The governor is to address the golfers before they tee off on the highly-rated private course in a gated community.

It is the home course for Michael Haley, who lived in Long Cove as a high school student. His parents, Bill and Carole Haley, still live there.

But Michael Haley said he'll have little advantage on the Pete Dye course.

"I will attempt to play," he said. "I play golf about once or twice a year."

Cink to lead Sunday service

Stewart Cink will lead a sunrise service at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at the 18th green of the Harbour Town Golf Links.

PGA Tour players Kevin Streelman and Josh Teater also will participate in the service, which is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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