How the Heritage golf event benefits from the new PGA Tour schedule

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Rory McIlroy played in the 2020 RBC Heritage, but no spectators were allowed due to COVID precautions.

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Golf fans will finally have the opportunity to see all of the best PGA Tour players in person at RBC Heritage 2023 on Hilton Head Island.

Having the Tour designate the Legacy among its “elevated” events on Wednesday ensures a high level field for the April tournament at Harbor Town Golf Links.

Jon Rahm, world No. 5, told his wife “Kelley would be extremely happy as she has wanted to return to Hilton Head for a very long time.”

The Legacy offered an impressive field in 2020, but that came on a postponed June date and with strings attached. Health restrictions in the early months of the COVID pandemic meant no fans and a myriad of precautions.

This time, the spectators can be there.

Two of next year’s “elevated” events will take place the week after the major championships, the Legacy after the Masters and the Voyageurs after the US Open. The Masters-Heritage timing has caused many top players to skip Hilton Head in the past, although the tournaments are approximately 150 miles apart.

Revised rules require the best on the Tour to compete in the same tournaments more often. The Legacy, thanks to the increase in the purse to $20 million, received one of those plums for 2023.

Timings will need some adjustments, Rory McIlroy said Wednesday on the eve of the CJ Cup in South Carolina at Congaree Golf Club.

“The PGA Tour is transitioning to a January-August season; everyone knows that,” he said. “So this week the CJ Cup is one of the (three optional events) for me.

“I think Jon (Rahm), myself, Viktor (Hovland), Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton…we are a few of us in a position to play (the PGA and DP World tours). If you can let us play one PGA event in the fall and say another European Tour event in the fall then you just have to play one in the middle of the season I think that’s a good result for everyone.

Joining the heritage in receiving the “high” designation for 2023 are the WM Phoenix Open, the West Fargo Championship in Charlotte and the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Connecticut.

Players who finished in the top 20 of the Player Impact 2022 program must participate in all high events for which they are eligible, as well as at least three additional events. The commitment to compete on a predetermined schedule and to play at least 20 times a year is the result of collaboration between top players.

Thus, the field of Hilton Head will be even stronger than that which disputes this week the CJ Cup in South Carolina. And this week’s tournament features 15 of the top 20 in the World Golf Rankings.

Heritage staff reduced ticket sales for the 2022 event in an effort to create a more fan-friendly environment, and the plan met all expectations. The tournament sold out and a popular champion – Jordan Spieth edged out Patrick Cantlay in the playoffs – added to the experience.

Scottie Scheffler, the highest-ranked player in the world, reflected on his spring schedule and said tough decisions would be needed. Like Jordan Spieth and other Texas-based players, he could play five straight weeks.

“You have Wells Fargo (required), Byron Nelson (in Texas), the PGA (a major), Colonial (in Texas) and Memorial (required),” he said. “The Byron and the Colonial will both be home events where I will sleep in my own bed; these are hard to ignore.

“Obviously I want to do what I can to support the Tour, so I haven’t really looked too far into that. I’m sure my schedule will be quite similar to last year, but I I’ll definitely add Wells Fargo or Memorial. … It’s going to be a tough balancing act for the guys.

But whatever decisions are made, the fans will be the winners at Hilton Head. A word to the wise: Buy your tickets early.

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