RBC Heritage Notebook: Tourney Bracing For Bad Weather

One of RBC Heritage Tournament Director Steve Wilmot’s annual laments is that he and his staff can’t control two things — the leaderboard and the weather.

With one of the best fields in recent memory, the leaderboard figures to take care of itself this weekend, but the weather is a concern heading into Friday’s second round.

It’s concerning enough, in fact, that the tournament sent a release Thursday night advising that play will begin as planned Friday morning but noting the potential for severe weather Friday afternoon as a line of thunderstorms is expected to move through the area. If severe weather is impending, tournament officials say warnings will be issued on the on-course scoreboards, as well as on the RBC Heritage website and social media channels in plenty of time for spectators to clear the course and take cover.

“The safety of everyone on the grounds is our utmost priority,” Wilmot said. “We strongly encourage fans to use their best judgment and closely follow weather alerts and tournament communications. As much as we all want to enjoy the tournament, Mother Nature may have different plans.”

With the storms expected to move through quickly and clear skies forecast for the weekend, there shouldn’t be any difficulty completing the tournament Sunday, and though everyone would prefer perfect weather for all four rounds, golfers are always prepared for delays.

“You kind of go when they tell you to go, and if it’s delayed, you just chill,” said Luke List, who is tied for second after opening with a 5-under 66. “We’ve been doing this for a long time. Mother Nature is part of our game, so we just kind of take it easy and go when we can.” 

The weather could change the scoring dynamics, though, especially with Harbour Town playing firm and fast. Heavy rains could soften the course and allow golfers to fire at flags this weekend.

“This golf course is in such great condition; I hope it just doesn’t get a big dump of rain tomorrow afternoon,” said past champion Graeme McDowell, who is tied for 15th at 3-under. “With the gusts forecast in the morning, the PGA Tour is extremely experienced so they’ll be able to monitor the situation and make sure it’s safe for players to play and fair for players to play.” 

Back where he started

At first glance, defending champion Satoshi Kodaira’s first round of 2-over-par 73 might seem like a disappointing start.

But Kodaira started with the same score last year before firing an 8-under 63 in the second round en route to his first PGA Tour victory. And Kodaira was in an even bigger hole after 18 holes last year, as he was nine shots behind first-round leader Rory Sabbatini.

No. 6 will have to wait

Five-time Heritage champion Davis Love III will not be adding another tartan jacket to his closet this year, as the World Golf Hall of Fame member withdrew prior to Thursday’s first round for undisclosed family reasons. 

This and That

Sam Ryder withdrew during the first round with a left wrist injury. … The first-round leader or co-leader has won the RBC Heritage in two of the past five years. … Irishman Shane Lowry holds the 18-hole lead or co-lead for the second time in his PGA Tour career. He tied for sixth at the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open. … Two-time Heritage champion Boo Weekley opened with a 2-under 69 in just his second PGA Tour start since the 2017 RBC Canadian Open. … Six players carded bogey-free rounds Thursday — Lowry (65), Ryan Moore (66), Patrick Cantlay (67), Billy Horschel (67), Andrew Landry (69), and Weekley (69). 

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