S.C. governor worked night, day to help save Heritage

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Brandt Snedeker won the 2011 Heritage Classic in a playoff againt Luke Donald.
June 17, 2011
Zak Kozuchowski, PGATOUR.COM staff

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has relatives that live in Hilton Head Island. Specifically, the parents of her husband, Michael.

Until Thursday, when the future of the local PGA TOUR event was secured thanks to a title sponsor agreement with RBC and a presenting sponsor agreement with the Boeing Company, Haley wasn't sure if she'd be able to visit her in-laws anymore.

"The big joke was, I've got to get a sponsor, or I can't come for Thanksgiving," Haley said with a smile.

She no longer has to worry. Thursday's announcement secures sponsorship of The RBC Heritage through 2016, good news for an event that did not have a presenting sponsor this year -- and good news for all the players who enjoy coming to Harbour Town Golf Links, which has hosted a TOUR event since 1969.

"The future of the PGA TOUR event here, The Heritage, is safe," said TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem.

Finchem joked that the governor began calling him "noon and night" three months ago to secure the tournament.

"I don't recall a time when any state official or any elected official, mayor, governor, senator, has put the energy and time and the commitment behind making this happen," he said. "We are delighted that she is part of this partnership now and has committed her personal involvement going forward beyond just securing the sponsorship."

The tournament will remain in its current spot in April on the PGA TOUR next year.

"There may be some movement in odd years," Finchem said, "but the plan, and we go into television discussions in a few weeks ... is that we resume its normal weekend."

The Heritage has contributed more than $1 million on average to charities since it was established, and has an annual economic impact of approximately $82 million according to a 2010 study conducted by Clemson University.

Both RBC and Boeing were already PGA TOUR partners. RBC is title sponsor of the RBC Canadian Open played in July, while Boeing sponsors the Champions Tour's Boeing Class played in the Seattle area in August.

Finchem did not disclose financial terms of the agreement. He said that it is in line with current PGA TOUR deals, and very similar to the TOUR's agreement with its Hawaii tournaments that are focused primarily on tourism.