HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - The RBC Heritage is rolling on this week at the Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.
A number of golfers playing in the tournament this week have ties to South Carolina. The Palmetto State is well known for the amount of tour golfers it puts out, and the field has a strong presence of players who have ties in South Carolina.
Kevin Kisner is an Aiken native, and the state can claim major winners in Lucas Glover and Dustin Johnson, as well as players with ties to the colleges, like Jonathan Byrd of Clemson.
Bill Haas is another favorite around the area. He’s a Wake Forest graduate, but grew up in the upstate, in Greenville. His dad also had a good run with 3 Top 10 finishes. Haas is a former Fed X Champion. This will be his fifteenth Heritage. His best finish was last year, tied for seventh, and he knows the course well.
“Always working on everything, but I think around here, if you can just keep it in play and make a few putts, you can be there on Sunday,” Haas said. “You typically don’t have to go crazy low, you just have to make as many parts as you can and take advantage of the holes that you hit good drives."
Mark Anderson is back on the course at Harbour Town. The Beaufort native is now competing in his seventh Heritage - his first coming back in 2009. The former Gamecock’s best finish came in 2012 when he tied for thirteenth. Anderson did not play in last year’s Heritage, as he was competing on the Web.com Tour.
WTOC: “What is it that you really need to get going with your game?”
Anderson: “You got to drive it good here, it’s the key to Harbour Town to hit the ball in the fairway, to get the driver going and get into position off the tee and you’ll be good to go.”
Anderson has made four out of six cuts at the RBC Heritage and has a 72.11 average.
We’ve got a great field at Harbour Town once again, even with Louis Oosthuizen withdrawing, we still have 15 players in the field that have won a major.
The RBC Heritage is home turf for Brian Harman. Even though he lives on St. Simons now, this is homecoming week for him. He’s back for his tenth Heritage, and he hopes it is also a cure for a low point in his career.
“My last couple of starts didn’t go very well,” Harman said. “I thought I was out of the fog. I’ve been working hard, man, just trying to stay patient,” he said.
The Savannah native’s patience has been tested during a two-month stretch in which he has missed the cut in four out of the five events he played.
With a tie for eighth at The Players - his only finish inside the Top 30 since last June - and his statistics are off in driving, putting, and iron play - he’s working closely again this week with his longtime teacher Jack Lumpkin.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” he said. “The answer is in there somewhere. There’s just a lot of different ways to approach it, to find it; just trying to shoot lower scores, man. Same stuff I’m always working on. Just got to be a little more efficient and try to use my time a little better.”
A growing family has put more demands on his time, with his second child arriving last summer, but he says that’s not an excuse for his slow start to the season.
“A lot of guys out here have kids and they do fine, so I’m just trying to find my way,” Harman said. “It’s great. Obviously, I didn’t play last week, so I’m excited to get going again.”
Most of the pros playing did not play the Masters, so they are seeing each other for the first time since Tiger’s win.
Like everybody else, they’re talking about where they were, how they watched, and how they reacted. They’re also seeing a potential boost for golf from one of the game’s most moving wins of all time.
“I watched every second of it. If you didn’t watch that, I don’t think you’re a golf fan,” said Sam Saunders, PGA Tour Professional. “That was as good as it gets, probably the most entertaining golf tournament I’ve ever watched, and obviously, just thrilled to see Tiger come back and do that. It gave me chills.”
“Yeah, it was just fantastic,” said Matthew Fitzpatrick, PGA Tour Professional. “You’ve just got to look all over the place and everyone knew that he won. Everyone was delighted for him. It’s great for the game of golf.
“One of the neatest things was watching The Today Show the next morning, the fact that it was the first thing they talked about. A lot of things going on in the world, and the first thing they talk about is Tiger Woods winning The Masters, and obviously talking about the sport that we play. That’s pretty cool. It’s going to bring a lot of people to the game, and obviously, it’s great for all of us.”
Sam Saunders, of course, is Arnold Palmer’s grandson. We asked him if it was maybe a little bittersweet that Tiger pulled ahead with five Masters to Arnold’s five. He said ‘not at all,’ that his grandfather would have been rooting for Tiger and as thrilled as anyone that he won.