The PGA Tour traveled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for the 2023 RBC Heritage Classic. Living up to its reputation as tough The Harbour Town Golf Links designed by Pete Dye in 1967 with the help of professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, the course consists of narrow fairways, overhanging oaks, pines, palmettos, and dark lagoons. It is one of the shortest courses the PGA Tour plays all season and probably one of the most difficult layouts.
It took over six hours and a number of lead changes on the back nine before Jordan Spieth and Matt Fitzpatrick tied at the end of the final round and would battle it out on the 17th and 18th holes for the prestigious Red Plaid Jacket and the most first place prize money ever handed out to the winner of the RBC Heritage Classic.
Matt Fitzpatrick was the tournament leader going into the final round and found himself falling one shot behind Spieth heading to the 16th hole. He sank a birdie putt on 16 while Spieth carded par which left them both looking for that elusive birdie on one of the last two holes.
After both missed birdie putts on the first two playoff holes, they headed back to the 18th. Matt Fitzpatrick, with one of the best second shots seen during a play off on the Harbour Town Links 18th hole, taped in a birdie putt from two inches to win the 2023 RBC Heritage Classic.
When Matt was asked about the pressure he felt during the back nine today he said “ I managed to seal the deal today” “yeah definitely nerves I think there’s always a bit of that. It’s funny, I didn’t feel as nervous for this as I did in Italy last year when I almost won.”
He continued, “I think that was probably kind of a testament to myself of just trying to you know be more patient and just let things happen and that’s what I thought I did really well today I was patient.” When describing what he were thinking over 2nd shot on the 3rd playoff hole he said, “We had 186 yards and hit 2” inches short so for me it was yeah it was just a perfect yardage.”
Going into the RBC Heritage, Matt won his first United States event at the 2022 U.S. Open. The win is just his second win but it was well worth the wait. This year’s RBC Heritage was a designated event, with a $20 million purse and $3.6 million first prize which is $2.2 million more than last year.
Looks like the RBC Heritage Classic for the first time in a number of years will no longer just be known as “The tournament after the Masters.” The RBC Heritage Classic was the 26th event of the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season and sixth designated event, featuring seven of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, and 28 of the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.
There were 47 players in the 143-player field that competed at last week’s Masters, including 10 players who finished T-10 or better: Jon Rahm (Won) R. Henley (T4) J. Spieth (T4) V. Hovland (T7) C. Young (T7) S. Theegala (9th) M. Fitzpatrick (T10) C. Morikawa (T10) X. Schauffele (T10) S. Scheffler (T10).
It was evident right from the beginning of the tournament that the new “Designated Event” program is clearly working and giving both players and fans the incentive to attend a number of tournaments this season that otherwise might have taken place without them. The future looks bright for the “new” PGA Tour.