RBC Heritage

Bryan makes history as first South Carolinian to win Heritage

Wesley Bryan didn’t recognize the nerves until they manifested late Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links.

He had just missed an opportunity for more security in his bid to becoming the first homegrown player to win the South Carolina PGA Tour event as he walked to the 17th tee. The Chapin native and former South Carolina Gamecock didn’t know of the Palmetto State hex before this week.

And with a one-shot lead on the 71st hole of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, the moment caught up with him.

“I just went to purple a bit, and a little more than a burp came up,” Bryan said.

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He needn’t have worried. Bryan delivered steely golf shots to close out his first PGA Tour victory, finishing at 13-under-par 271 after a final round 67 to become the first from his home state to win the tournament in its 49th year.

His Pepto-colored pants clashed with the tartan jacket, but Bryan celebrated with family and friends on the 18th green as fans chanted Gamecocks cheers. Bryan earned $1.17 million with the victory, an invite to the 2018 Masters tournament — the 27-year-old is an Augusta resident — and a head start on a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship.

Bryan came from four behind to win Sunday, the fifth consecutive year the winner has come from at least three shots back.

He tamed a course that frustrated other contenders Sunday after playing so docile the first three days.

Bryan won by a shot over Luke Donald, who missed out on his first Heritage victory while finishing runner-up a record fifth time. Donald couldn’t recover from an early double bogey at No. 2.

“I just keep trying,” Donald said. “Obviously it’s a place I feel comfortable and I like and I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve just got to keep pounding away, and hopefully I’ll get there.”

Ask Bryan how he rose so quickly from mini tours to a three-time Web.com winner and PGA Tour champion, and Bryan is stumped.

He recalled shooting a 100 at a tournament in college and later playing on a developmental circuit called the SwingThought Tour. He gained a level of fame by teaming up with his brother, George Bryan IV, to create viral trick-shot videos and later as a contestant on Golf Channel’s “The Big Break.”

In some ways, he felt he played his best at Dutch Fork High School. But he hypothesized Sunday that perhaps now he better handles his emotions and has improved his mid-iron play.

And Harbour Town fit his eye this week.

He played a stretch of 42 consecutive holes without a bogey before dropping a shot on the par-3 fourth Sunday. But he charged into contention with four consecutive birdies starting on No. 4 and grabbed the lead with a birdie at 15.

Bryan grew up playing on his family’s 10-acre golf playground in Chapin. The setup wasn’t a course but a series of small greens requiring shots wrapped around the pines.

The purpose was to ensure the game was fun, said Bryan’s father, George Bryan III, a PGA teaching professional. And the result was for Bryan to embrace feel over the technical aspects of the game.

“To me, he’s a little bit of a throwback player,” said Bryan’s caddie, William Lanier. “This day and age, it’s like pound the ball and hit it high in the air — he likes to work the ball and change trajectory.”

Bryan’s dad played the Heritage in 2004 after winning a qualifier. Wesley Bryan remembers tagging along that week as a 14-year-old, plopping himself at the dining table of the top players in the field and bugging them with questions.

He went from “one of the most annoying kids out there” to winning the event 13 years later. A S.C. Junior Golf Association official asked Bryan early in the week how it would feel to be the first South Carolinian to win on Hilton Head.

Bryan didn’t know the history, but he believed he could contend with the game’s best.

“And just to be able to come out here and show it for four days and the last couple of holes is something you can only dream of, honestly,” Bryan said.

Stephen Fastenau: 843-706-8182, @IPBG_Stephen

RBC Heritage scores

Sunday, at Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head

Purse: $6.5 million; Yardage: 7,099; Par 71

Final

Wesley Bryan (500), $1,170,000 69-67-68-67—271

Luke Donald (300), $702,000 65-67-72-68—272

Patrick Cantlay (145), $338,000 70-66-70-67—273

William McGirt (145), $338,000 68-68-68-69—273

Ollie Schniederjans (145), $338,000 68-68-69-68—273

Graham DeLaet (92), $217,750 65-67-69-73—274

Brian Gay (92), $217,750 68-70-69-67—274

J.J. Spaun (92), $217,750 67-72-66-69—274

Bud Cauley (78), $182,000 63-72-71-69—275

Brian Harman (78), $182,000 71-70-66-68—275

Sung Kang (54), $114,045 69-69-70-68—276

Russell Knox (54), $114,045 70-66-72-68—276

Matt Kuchar (54), $114,045 68-71-73-64—276

Sam Saunders (54), $114,045 65-70-74-67—276

Brandt Snedeker (54), $114,045 69-68-71-68—276

Jason Dufner (54), $114,045 68-67-65-76—276

Branden Grace (54), $114,045 68-71-69-68—276

Kevin Kisner (54), $114,045 72-64-66-74—276

Ryan Palmer (54), $114,045 68-73-67-68—276

Ian Poulter (54), $114,045 66-68-69-73—276

Webb Simpson (54), $114,045 66-68-68-74—276

Adam Hadwin (38), $65,000 71-66-71-69—277

Billy Hurley III (38), $65,000 69-71-66-71—277

Francesco Molinari (38), $65,000 67-71-70-69—277

Nick Taylor (38), $65,000 69-66-70-72—277

Blayne Barber (33), $50,050 71-68-69-70—278

Russell Henley (33), $50,050 66-73-71-68—278

Rod Pampling (33), $50,050 69-72-69-68—278

Tyrrell Hatton, $44,200 69-68-68-74—279

Graeme McDowell (28), $44,200 72-68-69-70—279

Cameron Smith (28), $44,200 67-70-71-71—279

Zac Blair (21), $35,193 70-70-70-70—280

Derek Fathauer (21), $35,193 72-67-70-71—280

Lucas Glover (21), $35,193 72-68-71-69—280

Martin Kaymer, $35,193 68-69-74-69—280

Patton Kizzire (21), $35,193 72-66-70-72—280

Chad Campbell (21), $35,193 69-69-69-73—280

Rafael Campos, $35,193 68-70-70-72—280

Jason Bohn (15), $26,650 67-72-70-72—281

Danny Lee (15), $26,650 66-72-73-70—281

Kevin Na (15), $26,650 70-69-73-69—281

Hideto Tanihara, $26,650 67-70-72-72—281

Johnson Wagner (15), $26,650 70-69-70-72—281

Mark Anderson (9), $17,604 69-70-72-71—282

Jonas Blixt (9), $17,604 69-70-72-71—282

Alex Cejka (9), $17,604 71-66-73-72—282

Fabian Gomez (9), $17,604 74-67-70-71—282

Anirban Lahiri (9), $17,604 67-70-75-70—282

Marc Leishman (9), $17,604 68-69-74-71—282

Bryce Molder (9), $17,604 73-67-70-72—282

C.T. Pan (9), $17,604 71-69-73-69—282

Keegan Bradley (9), $17,604 75-66-68-73—282

Shane Lowry (9), $17,604 66-75-69-72—282

Peter Malnati (9), $17,604 71-69-67-75—282

Boo Weekley (9), $17,604 72-69-69-72—282

Charles Howell III (6), $14,690 70-70-71-72—283

Brian Stuard (6), $14,690 69-71-71-72—283

Tyrone Van Aswegen (6), $14,690 70-70-69-74—283

David Hearn (5), $14,170 70-70-69-75—284

Grayson Murray (5), $14,170 67-73-71-73—284

Kyle Stanley (5), $14,170 71-70-71-72—284

Daniel Summerhays (5), $14,170 73-66-70-75—284

Harold Varner III (5), $14,170 67-72-70-75—284

Ryan Blaum (4), $13,520 71-69-70-75—285

K.J. Choi (4), $13,520 69-71-70-75—285

Andrew Johnston (4), $13,520 68-71-70-76—285

Martin Laird (4), $13,520 69-70-71-75—285

Vaughn Taylor (4), $13,520 71-70-73-71—285

Yuta Ikeda, $13,130 70-71-72-73—286

Ben Crane (3), $12,805 66-74-72-75—287

Steve Marino (3), $12,805 69-71-72-75—287

Trey Mullinax (3), $12,805 73-68-73-73—287

Pat Perez (3), $12,805 68-67-81-71—287

Mark Hubbard (3), $12,480 70-71-74-76—291

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