Gov. Nikki Haley praised local leaders and corporate sponsors for securing the future of the RBC Heritage golf tournament at a luncheon Wednesday at Sea Pines Country Club.
About 300 attended the event, which was hosted by the Sea Pines Men's Club, and gave Haley a standing ovation after her remarks.
Haley, along with Hilton Head Island mayor Drew Laughlin and a representative of the PGA Tour, also received a crystal replica of the Harbour Town lighthouse from the club.
"The Heritage is one of the things, probably the main thing, that binds this community together," Laughlin said. "We're fortunate to have a governor who understands how important this tournament is."
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Next season's PGA Tour event will be played April 12-15 at Harbour Town Golf Links, which is inside Sea Pines. The tournament has a 42-year history on Hilton Head but faced an uncertain future when Verizon did not renew its contract as title sponsor after the 2010 event. This year's tournament was played without a title sponsor, using reserve funds and loans from local government.
Verizon or its corporate predecessors had served as title sponsor of each tournament between 1987 and 2010.
In June, Haley and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced Royal Bank of Canada had signed a five-year deal to be the new title sponsor. Boeing, which opened a plant in North Charleston in June, will be a presenting sponsor.
"I never doubted we'd get it done," said Haley, who joked that she wouldn't be invited back to her in-laws' home on Hilton Head if she couldn't get the tournament a new sponsor.
"Everything about this tournament makes South Carolina look great," the first-term Republican governor said. "It's good to see this excitement, and I'm glad to be a part of this celebration."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., could not attend but recorded a video for the luncheon, in which he thanked Haley and tournament leaders for their commitment to securing sponsors.
Afterward, Men's Club president David Leininger praised the governor's support of the tournament.
"Truth be told, those of us with ties to the island have really felt neglected by Columbia in the past," Leininger said. "That's not the case with Gov. Haley. She's shown a strong commitment to this community."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.