Though circumstances have left the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing without a defending champion, officials were only too pleased to see the tournament’s most frequent winner is coming back to Harbour Town Golf Links.
Davis Love III, a winner of five tartan jackets, is among eight former champions announced Thursday to make early commitments to the PGA Tour’s annual Lowcountry visit. It’ll be just his second appearance in five years, after injuries ended a run of 26 consecutive Harbour Town starts.
“To have Davis as an early commitment really means a lot to this tournament,” tournament director Steve Wilmot said.
Brandt Snedeker, the 2011 champion who won just two weeks ago at wind-ravaged Torrey Pines, also headlines the lineup along with two-time Heritage champions Boo Weekley and Stewart Cink. Graeme McDowell, Carl Pettersson, Justin Leonard and Glen Day complete the list for the April 11-17 Heritage week.
“It’s nice to see,” Wilmot said. “It helps us out in being able to promote the event.”
That’s especially valuable this year, with Jim Furyk unable to defend his crown following wrist surgery less than two weeks ago. He hasn’t hit a competitive shot since last September, with mid-May now his target for a return.
Furyk becomes the first champion in the tournament’s first 47 years to be unable to defend. Love’s addition, though, helps to fill that gap.
The 51-year-old veteran, now healthy again after neck, foot and ankle injuries, is keeping a busy schedule. This week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is his fifth PGA Tour start of 2015-16, plus one Champions Tour start and duties in his second tour as U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Davis Love III was only 23 when he won his first Heritage jacket in 1987, making him the event's youngest champion. Last August, a come-from- behind triumph at the Wyndham Championship made him the third-oldest to win on the PGA Tour.
“My first tournament (as director) was his first win,” Wilmot noted. “He’s certainly a favorite. And he committed early, which is great. It shows how much this tournament means to him.”
Snedeker, who made the 2011 edition his second PGA Tour victory, notched his 11th when he won the Farmers Insurance Open in gale-force Sunday winds that later downed trees on the course. He’s an RBC ambassador along with McDowell, who captured the 2013 Heritage.
Two of Weekley’s three PGA Tour wins have come at Harbour Town, winning back-to-back in 2007 and ’08. Cink doubled up in the Lowcountry in 2000 and ’04, part of a six-win career that includes the 2009 British Open.
Leonard, the 2002 champion, has a dozen career victories. Pettersson’s 2012 victory was the most recent of his five. Day’s 1999 triumph remains his only PGA Tour victory, defeating Jeff Sluman and the late Payne Stewart in a playoff.
Day hasn’t missed a Harbour Town start in his career, a streak that figures to stretch to 23 in a few weeks.
“He’s been good to the event,” Wilmot said, “and the event has been good to him.”
48th RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing
When: April 11-17
Where: Harbour Town Golf Links
2015 champion: Jim Furyk (unable to defend)
Tickets: RBCHeritage.com or 843-671-2448