For the first 48 years of the RBC Heritage, no golfer from South Carolina managed to capture the title at the Palmetto State’s only PGA Tour stop.
Now there’s a chance it will happen for the second time in three years.
Wesley Bryan ended the drought in 2017 — two years after Kevin Kisner fell just short of doing so when he lost to Jim Furyk in a playoff — and native son Dustin Johnson is in position to add to the recent run of success from South Carolina players, as the Columbia native takes a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round.
While Johnson is enjoying the home-state advantage now, he was a no-show for the Heritage for nine years before returning last year after joining Team RBC.
“RBC is doing a great job with this event, and I’ve really enjoyed playing here,” he said. “Last year I really enjoyed it, especially being away for so long not playing this event. But it’s something that I look forward to now. I’ve got a really big fan base here, and growing up in South Carolina definitely helps. So it’s something that I really enjoy, and I’m definitely glad to be back here and playing.”
Johnson is seeking his 21st career PGA Tour victory, but his first in his home state.
Although a semi-local player is on top at the moment, the rest of the leaderboard has an international flair.
The top 10 heading into the final round includes for Americans as well as players from England, Slovakia, Ireland, South Korea, Argentina, and Chinese Taipei, making it quite plausible that the Heritage will have its sixth international winner in the past nine years when the dust settles Sunday evening.
It’s probably safe to say it won’t be defending champion Satoshi Kodaira of Japan who slips into a tartan jacket, though — he shot 6-over 77 on Saturday and is in 69th place.
Final round falter
Recent history is not working in Johnson favor — a 54-hole leader or co-leader has not won the Heritage since Carl Pettersson in 2012.
In fact, the last six winners have trailed by at least three shots entering the final round, including Kodaira, who rallied form six shots back to win last year.
With 18 players within four shots of Johnson, it could be a wild, wide-open Sunday at Harbour Town.