HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - The first round of the RBC Heritage was scheduled to tee off on Thursday morning on Hilton Head Island. Instead, the PGA TOUR announced it has been rescheduled to be played in June.
PGA officials say the tournament will now be played June 18-21 at the Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head. They also announced the tournament will be played without spectators or sponsors. The event will be broadcast-only to ensure the safety of the Hilton Head Island community.
Tournament Director Steve Wilmot said it will be different with no fans at the course but adds it’s better than not having a tournament at all.
Now comes the unique challenge of getting a tournament together in two months, while also taking into consideration everything needing to be done to keep players healthy.
“How food is handled in the buffet lines. Tees and pencils put in little baggies. We’re into it and ready to go, but there’s going to be a lot of questions more than anything,” Wilmot said.
He said the conversation to reschedule the tournament didn’t begin until last week, and the new dates weren’t fully set in stone until late Wednesday.
Wilmot calls it a whirlwind week for the Heritage staff; but coming with it is an exciting second chance at continuing the tradition of the Heritage in 2020.
“There’s not any other tournament rebooting, getting cancelled, then restarting up. the true testament to this tournament and the compliment to this community is they wanted to do it here,” Wilmot said.
The tournament will also have a bigger field than ever, with 144 players.
Wilmot believes because of the long layoff, many players will be chomping at the bit to get back on the course; which he feels could lead to the strongest field the Heritage has ever seen.
It’ll be a different experience in many ways; especially for the charities that benefit from the Heritage Foundation and tournament every year
“I really don’t know at this point, how it’s going to affect it,” Janet Weingarten said.
Like many, she’s excited for the return of the tournament, but knows having no spectators means less of a contribution to her organization.
The Heritage Foundation says, for now, all the charity programs are still suspended for the time being. Wilmot knows the foundation won’t be able to do as much as they have in the past.
“The $100 million economic impact isn’t going to happen…but it gets us going,” Wilmot said.
But Weingarten is optimistic. She hopes simply having the tournament will help keep her organization and others like it in the minds of those who usually give every year. In fact, she’s hoping today’s announcement may encourage folks to help.
“Maybe now, we’ll even send out another letter saying ‘hey, isn’t it great the tournament’s going to be on and remember us,” Weingarten said.
In the end, Wilmot believes having the tournament with no fans is better than having no tournament at all. He believes the 52nd Heritage this summer will help make the 53rd Heritage next April better than ever for everyone involved.
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