Beaufort News

Heritage's schedule shift doesn't go unnoticed by tour pros

Former Heritage champion Aaron Baddeley looked happy Tuesday at Harbour Town Golf Links, but he wasn't too pleased about the change in scheduling this year for the tournament.
Former Heritage champion Aaron Baddeley looked happy Tuesday at Harbour Town Golf Links, but he wasn't too pleased about the change in scheduling this year for the tournament. Sarah Welliver -- The Island Packet

Bo Van Pelt said he felt like he needed a moment to catch his breath following a mentally-draining week at the Masters -- and that was after a career-best finish.

A short drive to Hilton Head Island, along with four rounds at the scenic Harbour Town Golf Links, has provided PGA Tour players that peacefulness since 1983.

A change in this season's schedule, however, tested some players' patience in their attempt to find post-Masters relaxation. The Heritage, which begins Thursday at Harbour Town, was pushed back one week this year, allowing the Valero Texas Open to slide into an open date between it and the Masters.

The tweak hasn't gone unnoticed among some of the players.

"It felt 100 percent different," said Heath Slocum, who tied for eighth at last year's Heritage. "It's (been) the week after Augusta for as long as I can remember. That's where it belongs."

Added former Heritage champion Aaron Baddeley: "I'm just so used to the two-hour drive down the road, so it definitely felt different. ... It's a good week to come here after Augusta. It's sort of the opposite (environment). You've got the high tension one week, and then you can come in here and relax."

Players didn't have that option this year. Some Heritage regulars -- including Slocum, Baddeley and defending champion Jim Furyk -- chose to skip the Texas Open and take the week off.

Those who played the event said the TPC San Antonio course, its environment and the conditions had a different feel than the calmness surrounding Harbour Town. Van Pelt, who tied for eighth at the Masters two weeks ago, tied for 59th at the Texas Open over the weekend. Brandon Steele won the Texas tournament at 8-under par.

"It was a tough golf course, and it played tough all week. It made for a draining week, as well," Van Pelt said. "It would've been nice to just drive over here and have a little more relaxing week instead."

For others, the difference was negligible. Furyk didn't play in the Texas Open and spent the week at his home in Jacksonville, Fla., also a short drive to Hilton Head Island. Furyk said he enjoyed the opportunity to spend a week with his family.

Two-time Heritage champion Stewart Cink played in San Antonio, but said he doesn't expect the added week in between the Heritage and the Masters to take anything away from the atmosphere at this week's Heritage.

"I look at this as a chance to relax no matter where it is on the schedule, because it's just a great course to play," Cink said. "It's fun, and it's a different type of challenge, and the area down here is just so relaxing and great."

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