Webb Simpson emerges from the crowd to win RBC Heritage at Hilton Head

Tribune Content Agency

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Nothing about this RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament was normal.

So maybe it was fitting that the eventual champion was a steady presence who knows this golf course as well as anyone.

In the end, Webb Simpson punched through a tightly packed leaderboard fueled by unprecedented low scoring to win Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links. He finished 22-under-par 262 to beat a group that included a charging Daniel Berger, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka.

The winning total was a record, beating Brian Gay’s 20-under 264 finish in 2009.

“It was a crazy day,” Simpson told CBS. “It was a long day on the golf course. The putts started going in and I was getting confident.”

The victory was Simpson’s second of the year, adding to the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February. He won at Harbour Town for the first time in his 11th try.

He had earned $1.3 million at the tournament before Sunday. He pocketed $1.278 million with the win.

Rain showers and light wind softened a course that can play like a major championship and welcomed anyone to claim the tartan jacket.

Because of an extended weather delay, the leaders raced remaining sunlight and seemed destined for a playoff.

At one point Sunday seven players were tied for the lead. Just before 8 p.m., four players shared the lead on the back nine.

Simpson slammed the door with three consecutive birdies starting on the par-5 15th.

Tyrrell Hatton, trying to win his second PGA Tour event in consecutive starts, wasn’t out of it until narrowly missing a chip-in on the 71st hole.

The drama was without many witnesses as the PGA Tour has closed early events to fans to prevent spreading COVID-19.

No spectators cheered the birdies, except those in folding chairs, patios and balconies along the course and vessels anchored in the Calibogue Sound off of Hilton Head.

Simpson casually strolled down the 72nd fairway to a serene scene of more than a dozen boats on the water. As he approached the green, boat horns honked and Simpson acknowledged people cheering from yards of neighboring condominiums.

The father of five closed out his seventh PGA Tour victory. He won for second time as a dad on Father’s Day, along with the 2012 U.S. Open.

That one of the state’s premier events was revived in time for June required a herculean effort and affirmation from federal, state and local officials that this was safe and proper.

One player of 151 tested positive for COVID-19 during the tournament as of what had been announced by Saturday afternoon. Nick Watney was quarantined and at least 11 people he had been close to were identified and tested negative.

Faces unfamiliar to Harbour Town strode the tight fairways. The second PGA Tour event back during the pandemic drew the world’s best — Rory McIlroy, Koepka, Jon Rahm.

The wild finish was staged by furious scoring through three rounds.

A tournament record 35 players were 10 under or better entering the final round. The previous high was seven players in double digits after 54 holes.

The field’s 223 under total on Saturday shattered the previous cumulative single-round score.


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