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The 2017 RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head marked the first time in their 49-year history that a South Carolina native took home the tartan jacket. Wesley Bryan is a 2012 graduate of the University of South Carolina, and this PGA Tour rookie played four days of solid golf in perfect weather, propelling him to a one-shot victory over a veteran field of golf’s top competitors.
The final round score reveals that Bryan finished 4-under par that day, shooting a score of 67, to finish 13-under par for the tournament. He started the day four strokes behind several other players, but in the end those leaders faltered and Bryan played with remarkable composure to outlast them all. When Bryan completed the 18th hole, he could not celebrate before other players on the course were mathematically eliminated. The Plaid Nation was first patient, and then so proud, to celebrate their native son winning on Easter Sunday.
Bryan’s first ever PGA Tour win continues a remarkable timeline for S.C. sports in 2017. Coastal Carolina is the reigning men’s baseball national champion, Clemson is the reigning men’s football national champion, and South Carolina is the reigning women’s basketball national champion. Bryan is a Columbia native, attending high school at Dutch Fork, the same school where Dustin Johnson hails from. Johnson is the current #1-ranked golfer in the world.
Bryan is well known to social media followers for a series of golfing trick shot videos that he and his brother George have produced, garnering many You Tube views. Bryan has spent time on the Web.com Tour, and was voted their 2016 Player of the Year, after winning three events last year. Readers of the Colletonian know that the Web.com Tour comes to Greenville each May for the BMW Charity Classic. Bryan even has ties to the Lowcountry, since he represents the Kiawah Island Golf Club on the PGA Tour.
After completing his round on Sunday Bryan said that winning his first PGA Tour title in the state of South Carolina would forever hold special meaning for him. He also shared how he traveled to Augusta National last week as a spectator to watch friend Russell Henley compete. But now with the win at the RBC Heritage, Bryan will be teeing it up himself at The Masters in 2018. With the 50th edition of the RBC Heritage next year, Bryan will be at the center of attention during all the fanfare leading up to the springtime spectacle at the Sea Pines Resort.
The 2017 RBC Heritage made more history when England’s Luke Donald finished in second-place for a sixth time at the Harbour Town Golf Links. Donald’s world rankings have slipped as of late, but when he plays in Hilton Head he is always a contender. Fan favorite Davis Love III celebrated his 53rd birthday during Thursday’s round, and as a five-time past champion at the event, it underscores the fine line between finishing first or second over time.
The list of past champions at the RBC Heritage adds luster to the event’s prominence and includes Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Bernhard Langer, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart. The Pete Dye-designed golf course did undergo some serious changes in 2016 due to the storm damage from Hurricane Matthew. Almost 300 trees were removed from the course, and a result of the increased sunlight is that many players reported the grounds conditions much improved. The first 16-holes twist through picturesque pines and oaks, before the final two holes border Calibogue Sound, providing TV audiences some of the most memorable golfing vistas on tour.
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com