The official competition doesn’t begin until Thursday at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, but South Carolina native Dustin Johnson and North Carolina’s Webb Simpson went head-to-head in a skills competition Wednesday at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Emceed by PGA Tour host Teryn Gregson, Johnson and Simpson participated in three challenges: a trick-shot challenge, a chipping-meets-cornhole competition, and a battle of the best putting skills.
“With two Team RBC Players from the Carolinas on our roster this year, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have fun with the rivalry and kick off this year’s RBC Heritage with a smile,” said Matt McGlynn, RBC’s Vice President of Brand Marketing.
Johnson earned bragging rights as the champion of the Carolinas by winning two of the three challenges, capturing the trick-shot and putting competitions. He had some last-minute support from Austin Johnson, his brother and caddie, who helped clinch his putting challenge victory.
“As the newest Team RBC ambassador, I thought beginner’s luck would work in my favor, but the home-court advantage was clearly strong for DJ,” Simpson said. “Paul and I will have to practice our putter skills and face off with DJ and Austin another time.”
Both Johnson and Simpson walked away with golf head covers of their home state’s official animals — South Carolina’s white-tailed deer for Johnson and North Carolina’s eastern grey squirrel for Simpson.
“Being back in South Carolina, I felt confident about my hometown advantage,” Dustin Johnson said. “I’m happy I was able to get the win and make the local fans and my home state proud. I also think my boys will enjoy naming my new prized deer golf head cover.”
With the FedExCup season now beginning during the fall, the season-long points race is in full swing by the time the PGA Tour arrives on Hilton Head Island, and 15 of the top 30 players in the current standings — including four of the top 10 — are in the field this week.
Matt Kuchar, the 2014 Heritage champion, sits atop the standings, but Xander Schauffele is second and is also in this week’s field, making for a secondary drama to follow along with the leaderboard. Dustin Johnson (fifth) and Charles Howell III (ninth) also are in the field.
Champs Stick Around
Only three players have won the Heritage in back-to-back years — Payne Stewart (1989-90), Davis Love III (1991-92), and Boo Weekley (2007-08) — but Harbour Town has been good to defending champions, nonetheless.
Since Love in 1993, no defending champion has teed it up at Harbour Town the following year and missed the cut. That’s good news for Satoshi Kodaira, who will try to extend the streak and perhaps join that select list of back-to-back champs.
Masters of Harbour Town
Since the Heritage moved to its slot after the Masters in 1983, only seven players have won the event without having competed in the Masters the week before: Wesley Bryan (2017), Carl Pettersson (2012), Brian Gay (2009), Boo Weekley (2007), Aaron Baddeley (2006), Bob Tway (1995), and Davis Love III (1987).