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Heritage future in doubt

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The post-Masters wind down that has been known as the Verizon Heritage since 2006 has a bit of an edge to it this year.

Verizon plans to pull the corporate plug on the annual cocktail party after the 2010 edition and officials are struggling to find deep replacement pockets. The South Carolina legislature has voted to provide a $20 million loan to help save the event for 2011 but officials continue to search for a long-term solution.

“We have a solid product and a special event. Really, we have a lot of things on our side, but it’s a difficult economy,” said Steve Wilmot, the Heritage tournament director.

Wilmot said there is no deadline to find a replacement sponsor but plans to meet with the Tour after this week’s event to start discussing options.

In other Tour-related business, the 16-member Player Advisory Council is scheduled to meet this afternoon at Harbour Town. The topic? Television and how players can become more engaged in broadcasts. The meeting, which was described as a brainstorming session by one Tour official, will include production executives from NBC, CBS and Golf Channel.

Just a hunch, but don’t expect much support for players wearing microphones during rounds. One player who recently was fined by the Tour when he was captured on camera using some colorful language fumed on Tuesday, “I’m not going to pay. What are they going to do? Kick me off the Tour?”