Furyk says hopeful buzz about Heritage sponsor
Jim Furyk noticed there were several more politicians and
decision makers on hand than usual when he arrived at Harbour Town
Golf Links. And the Heritage defending champion hopes that means
good things for the tournament’s future.
The Heritage, played here since 1969, might not return in 2012
if it doesn’t find a title sponsor to underwrite the approximately
$8 million a year to hold the event. Verizon, its backer since
1987, pulled out after last year’s tournament.
”Everyone seems positive,” Furyk said on Wednesday. ”I know
they’re working together and working very hard to find a sponsor.
I’m not sure what the hang-up is or what you can really find wrong
with the area or the golf course.”
Furyk doesn’t see much wrong, especially after the FedEx Cup
champion’s Heritage victory last spring. He won in a playoff when
Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself for touching a
loose reed in the hazard area left of the course’s signature
lighthouse hole, No. 18.
Furyk has had five top-10 finishes at Harbour Town, including
the win, two seconds and a fourth, since 2003.
”It’s on a very short list of my favorite events, probably my
top three,” said the former U.S. Open champion. ”I had a couple
of close calls here, and an event I always wanted to win before my
career was over. It was nice to close the door last year and
finally get that done.”
Furyk will have several top competitors trying to keep him from
another victory. Luke Donald, No. 3 in the world, heads a field
that includes seven players in the top 20. Graeme McDowell (No. 5)
and Matt Kuchar (No. 10) are also entered. The others are Furyk
(No. 13), Ernie Els (No. 15), Ian Poulter (No. 16) and Francesco
Molinari (No. 19).
Also in the field is Jason Day of Australia, who tied for second
at the Masters and is playing for the first time since that
dramatic Sunday at Augusta National.
Andy Pazder, U.S. PGA Tour executive vice president and chief
operating officer, says the field won’t hurt the cause courting
potential sponsors this week. Player after player told Pazder how
much they enjoy coming to Pete Dye’s layout on Calibogue Sound and
Camilo Villegas changed his schedule to make sure he teed off at
”We are extremely confident we can find a long-term partner and
title sponsor here,” Pazder said. ”We’ve got a number of active
discussions under way.”
The Heritage Classic Foundation used $4 million from its
reserves for this year’s tournament. Local governments have also
pitched in $1 million.
Furyk would hate to see the Heritage disappear – and not just
because he’s earned more than $2.3 million in prize money in 12
trips to Harbour Town.
Losing this event ”probably sends a false message, in my
opinion, that the tour isn’t as strong as it has been,” he
Day thinks he and his competitors will do their parts to get
people talking about Harbour Town. ”Hopefully, we can get some
good play this week and hopefully, we can pick up a sponsor,” he