Bob Gillespie



Field of champions: RBC Heritage adds major champs, former Harbour Town winners

Posted 3/15/2012 10:36:00 AM

With less than six weeks until the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing kicks off for the 44th year (April 12-15), the field for South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event is filling up with former champions and a who’s-who list of past major-championship winners.

Start with Brandt Snedeker, who a year ago – when the fate of the Harbour Town Golf Links-based tournament seemed in doubt, before Royal Bank of Canada and Boeing signed on as sponsors – captured his first PGA Tour title by outlasting Luke Donald on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. Both will be back, Snedeker (also winner of this year’s Farmers Insurance Open) as defending champion and Donald as the world’s top-ranked player.

Ernie Els, who like Donald is an RBC “Ambassador,” knows how Donald felt last year at Harbour Town Golf Links. The veteran South African, with two U.S. Opens and a British Open among 60 victories on his resume, has come close several times but has never won the RBC Heritage.

On the other end of the Heritage spectrum are five past champions, who between them have won seven plaid jackets. Two-time winners Stewart Cink (2000 and 2004, plus the 2009 British Open) and Boo Weekley (2007-08) join Glen Day (1999), Brian Gay (2009) and Jim Furyk, winner in 2010 and also the 2003 U.S. Open champ.

Besides Els and Furyk, four others with eight majors between them will compete at Harbour Town. They include Padraig Harrington, like Els a three-time majors champ (2007 British Open, 2008 British Open and PGA), plus John Daly (1991 PGA, 1995 British Open), Lee Janzen (1993 and 1998 U.S. Opens, and a Heritage participant every year since 1994) and 1997 British Open winner Justin Leonard.

Greenville native Bill Haas has yet to win a major, but in 2011 he captured the richest prize in golf: the FedEx Cup title, which along with the Tour Championship netted him a cool $11.44 million. Earlier this year, the son of veteran Jay Haas also won in overtime at the Northern Trust Open.

Haas, who as an amateur played in Hilton Head’s Players Amateur, will be joined by other past Players Am competitors Matt Kuchar, Bryce Holder and Chris Kirk. Clemson star and 2011 U.S. Public Links winner Corbin Mills, who won last year’s Players Am, earned an invitation to play in the RBC Heritage.

The tournament field of approximately 124 will compete for a purse of $5.7 million, with the winner taking home $1.026 million. Daily tickets and week-long badges are now on sale online here or by calling (843) 671-2448.