Usually, it’s that snappy tartan jacket that defines winners of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.
For Wesley Bryan, it’s the belt. The belt with the Taco Bell buckle.
The defending champion was sporting it Monday when he appeared at Sea Pines for media day leading up to the 50th Heritage to be played April 9-15 over the Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.
“I’m a pretty simple guy,” said the former University of South Carolina Gamecock, and first the South Carolinian to win the Heritage.
That’s why he ended up at Taco Bell last year after his first win on the PGA Tour — still in his red-hot plaid jacket with a cool $1.17 million for his week’s pay.
His selfie with wife, Elizabeth, went viral.
This was not your father’s PGA Tour.
The kid more famous for his trick-shot videos with his brother, George, was about to get his bell rung by Taco Bell.
He recounted the tale Monday, even as Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player, waited in the wings. Johnson was shooting an RBC commercial as the folks inside were trying to wrap their minds around the thought of two boys from the same small state, and the same small town of Irmo, swooping into Harbour Town as defending champ and world’s No. 1 for the 50th edition of the state’s signature golfing event.
So here’s what happens after you win the Heritage.
Bryan told the big crowd he did his media duties till 8 o’clock or so, then he and Elizabeth tooled over to CQ’s restaurant in Harbour Town for a nice meal.
But Elizabeth had to go to work the next morning, so they headed back home to Augusta. They didn’t get on the road till 10:30 p.m., so on the long, dark ride he called ahead to his favorite Taco Bell to make sure it would stay open for him. Yes, they kept the lights on for their regular guy, who ate again around 1:30 a.m., sent the selfie out on Twitter, got home by 2 o’clock, and woke up the next day to live más.
Since then, Bryan has established a business relationship with Taco Bell. He wears their belt. He has Taco Bell logo golf balls.
And he was given the keys to Taco Bell’s test kitchen, where he invented his own concoction with more ingredients than the 67 strokes he fired last Easter Sunday in his comeback win at the Heritage.
He also did some cooking, and wrapping.
“I did a Crunch Wrap from start to the customer’s bag in 1 minute and 25 seconds,” he said.
A couple of odd things happened on the way to becoming the taco king.
In a two-week time span, the 27-year-old from nowhere had two people asking him to do promotional work with his belt, of all things. The maker of the belt he was wearing under his tartan jacket wanted to get him involved. But he had to say, “I just signed a Taco Bell deal that involves a belt.”
And Coca-Cola wanted to to cardboard cutouts of Bryan greeting customers at stores all over South Carolina, but that idea went flat due to Taco Bell’s historic relationship with PepsiCo, he said.
Bryan said he has retired from the YouTube videos that first made him famous. His schedule makes it harder than the days it began when he and his brother were sitting around, broke and bored.
But his reputation for craving junk food long predates his crash into the winner’s circle at Harbour Town.
He was there when his father, George Bryan III, played in the Heritage in 2004.
“My dad was teeing off on No. 10 in a practice round,” Wesley told a room full of media Monday.
The cleared the 14-year-old kid up to hit the Heritage House hosted for the golfers’ families.
“I got into a stash of Kit Kats,” he said. “I came home with 30 Kit Kats.”
No one knew it was an obvious precursor to the champion’s belt.