Harbour Town Golf Links
Hilton Head Island, SC
Par: 36-35—71Yards: 6,973
FedExCup Points: 25,000Winner: 4,500
Purse: $5,500,000Winner: $990,000
2007 Champion: Boo Weekley (270, -14)
Verizon Heritage Notes
Boo Weekley became the 10th first-time winner in Verizon Heritage history when he won in 2007. He is also the third consecutive first-time winner at this event, joining Peter Lonard in 2005 and Aaron Baddeley in 2006. The others are Hale Irwin (1971), Graham Marsh (1977), Doug Tewell (1980), Nick Faldo (1984), Davis Love III (1987), Glen Day (1999) and Jose Coceres (2001).
Defending champion Boo Weekley will be looking to keep a 14-year streak intact. No defending champion has missed the cut at the Verizon Heritage since Davis Love III didn’t make it to the weekend in 1993.
By winning in 2007, Boo Weekley became the fifth player to win the Verizon Heritage in his first appearance at the event. Stewart Cink (2000), Jose Coceres (2001), Bob Goalby (1970), and Arnold Palmer (1969) all won the title in their first visit to Hilton Head Island.
Davis Love III, a five-time champion at Harbour Town and the tournament’s leading money earner, will be making his 23rd straight appearance on Hilton Head Island. Love, from nearby Sea Island, GA, has won 19 PGA TOUR events and more than $35 million in his career. Love turned 44 last week. He has celebrated his birthday numerous times at this event but never won the title on his birthday. Three of his wins have come on April 19, while the others have been on April 20 and April 21.
Three players with South Carolina ties who are also rookies on the 2008 PGA TOUR are in the field at this week’s tournament. Kyle Thompson (lives in Columbia) and Tommy Gainey (native of Darlington; lives in Bishopville) have been awarded sponsor exemptions, while Dustin Johnson (native of Columbia; lives in Myrtle Beach) earned a spot in the field because of his position on the money list. Thompson is the only player out of the three to have made a start at the Verizon Heritage. Thompson played in the 2003 event but missed the weekend. Thompson was a three-time All-American at the University of South Carolina.
Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion as well as a winner of the British Open, has compiled seven top-10 finishes at Harbour Town, including top-10s in his last four starts. The South African fell just one stroke short of winning last April, nearly holing out for eagle from the fairway on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff.
Jim Furyk, the No. 9-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, will be playing at Harbour Town for the 10th time since 1995. Furyk, who has won 13 PGA TOUR events and more than $36 million, owns three top-10 finishes on Hilton Head, including a pair of second-place showings (2005 and 2006).
Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, will play in the event for the fourth time, after a sixth-place finish in 2007. It was the best performance by a Masters winner at the Verizon Heritage since Vijay Singh tied for third in 2000.
This week will mark the 40th playing of the Verizon Heritage. Since the first playing in 1969, major championship winners have won the event 28 times. Among the past champions at Harbour Town are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Bob Goalby, Tom Watson (twice), Hale Irwin (3 times), Johnny Miller (twice), Nick Faldo, Davis Love III (5 times), Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart (twice), Nick Price, Bill Rogers, Bob Tway, Justin Leonard, Fuzzy Zoeller (twice) and Hubert Green (twice).
Winning the Verizon Heritage has often led to outstanding seasons. Of the previous 39 winners, 19 finished in the Top-10 by season’s end with 13 finishing among the Top-5.
Davis Love III has not only won this event a record five times, he’s also finished in the Top-5 nine times and the Top-10 11 times.
The last three winners on the PGA TOUR have been in their 20s. Andres Romero (26) started the streak at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans followed by Johnson Wagner (28) at the Shell Houston Open. Trevor Immelman (28) continued the trend last week at the Masters Tournament.
More on the 20-somethings: Six of the first 17 events this year have been won by players in their 20s—D.J. Trahan, J.B. Holmes, Sean O’Hair, Andres Romero, Johnson Wagner and Trevor Immelman.
One more on young guys: Of the Top-30 players on the FedExCup points list, eight are in their 20s--the six players listed above, plus Brandt Snedeker and Steve Marino.
With Trevor Immelman taking this week off, Bernhard Langer (1985) will remain the last player to win the week after winning the Masters. The closest anyone has come since was Vijay Singh who finished T3 in 2000 at the Verizon Heritage.
The Champions Tour heads to the TPC Tampa Bay this week for the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. The course was the fourth hardest on Tour last year, playing to a stroke average of 74.071 (+3.071). It was the toughest non-major course on the 2007 Tour. Four holes—4, 8, 15 and 18—ranked among the 50 toughest holes on Tour last year.
He has a remarkable record at many places, but Hale Irwin has been particularly successful at the TPC Tampa Bay. In 10 career starts, Irwin has a victory, three seconds and a third among his eight Top-10 finishes. Irwin, by the way, is celebrating his 40th year as a professional this season.
Two Champions Tour members made the cut last week at The Masters. Rookies Ian Woosnam (44th) and Sandy Lyle (45th) each survived to play the weekend at Augusta.
When Tom Watson won last year’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am it marked his first career victory in the state of Florida after going winless in 93 previous starts in the state.
The Nationwide Tour returns to Georgia this week for the third annual Athens Regional Foundation Classic. International players have won both previous events—Paul Gow of Australia in 2006 and Martin Laird of Scotland in 2007. The early portion of the 2008 season has continued that trend with four Australians winning in the first six events of the year.
Since the Nationwide Tour began in 1990, it has grown as an international destination. To date, players from 19 different countries have won on the Tour.
Fifteen former Nationwide Tour players made the cut last week at The Masters. Former Nationwide Tour winners Brandt Snedeker and Stewart Cink led the way with T3 finishes.
After taking last week off, the Nationwide Tour will be in action for the next eight weeks before taking a one-week break following the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, NC.