Heritage seeking title sponsor for 2012 return

By Associated PressApril 26, 2011, 4:28 pm
The HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Without a title sponsor, The Heritage is on the clock.

Sunday’s final round at Harbour Towns Golf Links, when Brandt Snedeker happily slipped on his plaid champions coat and held the trophy high as fans applauded the thrilling finish, could have been The Heritage’s last hoorah.

The PGA Tour fixture since 1969 is without a title sponsor and desperately seeking the $8 million or so it would take to underwrite the tournament. Tour and event officials have called it imperative to find a backer for the world’s best golfers to return in 2012.

“I think just how special this is,” Snedeker said. “Everybody in the field wants to come back here next year, not just me.”

Tournament director Steve Wilmot knows his organization needs to make something happen – and soon.

He said players and prospective company representatives are saying positive things about the tournament.

“At the end of the day when we go home at the end of the day, we still don’t have it,” Wilmot said.

The Heritage Classic Foundation cobbled together enough through its reserves ($4 million) and local government help ($1 million) to hold the just concluded tournament. That’s not feasible for next year. The foundation depleted its funds and while Gov. Nikki Haley has pledged her support for the event, she said several times that taxpayer money was not an option to keep it going.

That leaves the tournament chasing down prospects.

About six weeks ago, Wilmot held off printing caddie bibs and other signage because he thought he had a done deal for this year and beyond. The agreement was at the lawyer’s office, he said, when the deal fell through at the end.

The buzz this week was of a “Sunday surprise,” a white knight riding in to assure PGA Tour pros and fans that the tournament would survive. Wilmot was forced to put out a statement late in the day saying that would not happen.

“We will not be making any announcement regarding a new title sponsor today, but the sponsorship search continues in earnest,” he said. “Trust that as a new or repeating champion is crowned today, the efforts of the Foundation and the PGA TOUR will continue with the care that The Heritage name and tradition deserves.”

The island was a little thought of spot at the bottom of the state when Pete Dye crafted Harbour Town, a devilishly little test of terror. It’s less than 7,000 yards, but its fairways are tight, its green are small and fast, and the wind off Calibogue Sound typically makes the final three holes some of the most difficult on tour.

Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event in 1969 and the list of champions includes some of the game’s greats: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and others.

Seven of the top 20 players took part in this year’s tournament. No. 3 Luke Donald had the chance to rise to No. 1 before losing in a dramatic three-hole playoff to Snedeker.

“This golf course kind of holds up to the test of time,” said Scott Verplank, who finished ninth this week. “I’d wish when they’re building new golf courses, they’d look at something like this rather than some of the monstrosities we play on now.”

Whispers about possible title sponsor candidates included the insurer, Aflac, which purchased about a third of the advertising spots for this year’s telecasts, and RBC, the Royal Bank of Canada, which sponsors tour star Jim Furyk.

The Heritage is one of South Carolina’s few annual national sporting events, alongside NASCAR’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the WTA’s Family Circle Cup playing in Charleston.

In July, the Heritage Classic Foundation released a study that found the 2010 golf tournament here brought nearly $82 million to South Carolina and the coastal region. The survey was conducted by Clemson’s International Institute for Tourism Research and Development with help from USC Beaufort.

A full-court press of state leaders, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, were ready to help find a way for the tournament to continue.

“We’ll find someone,” said Duane Parrish, head of the state’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department. “This is too great of a price value for an organization to entertain, to get the exposure.”

Even South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier put in a pitch for the state’s PGA event.

“We’re hoping the tournament stays here, a sponsor will show up so the PGA can keep this tournament here,” he said.

Wilmot said his organization will push forward with usual post-event meetings with an eye to next year. There also will be a meeting with the PGA Tour about prospects for next year. Wilmot didn’t want the focus of this year’s tournament to be the event’s future.

“But there’s an obvious reason everyone’s asking that question,” he said.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.