Beaufort Today -

Bryan becomes first S.C. native to win RBC Heritage

  • Scott Schroeder/For Beaufort Today Wesley Bryan hits his tee shot at No. 14.
  • Scott Schroeder/For Beaufort Today Luke Donald studies the 17th green during Sunday’s final round. Donald was the runner-up for the fifth time.
  • Scott Schroeder/For Beaufort Today Wesley Bryan prepares for his putt at No. 17 on Sunday at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island.
  • Scott Schroeder/For Beaufort Today Wesley Bryan tees off from No. 18 on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links. He is the first South Carolina native to win the tournament in its 49-year history.

South Carolina’s notable run in sports extended a little further Sunday in the final round of the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.

Already home to college champions in baseball (Coastal Carolina), football (Clemson) and women’s basketball (South Carolina), the Palmetto State now can check a native-born winner at its only PGA Tour event from the list.

Wesley Bryan became the first South Carolina-born player to win the Heritage in 49 years of play, shooting a 4-under-par 67 in the final round to finish at 13-under overall.

“This is as good as it gets,” said Bryan, 27, who was born in Columbia. “It’s one that I grew up dreaming on the practice green late at night when I was a kid, like, ‘This putt is to win the Heritage.’

“And to get it done here is one of the coolest experiences ever.”

Bryan began the day at 9-under and used four straight birdies at Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 to jump up the leaderboard. Those birdies were bookended by bogeys at No. 3 and 8, however.

The University of South Carolina graduate played mostly par on the back nine, with birdies on 13 and 15 before calmly two-putting for par on No. 18 for what would become his first win on the PGA Tour.

“That birdie, I just thought I needed that birdie there to keep up,” Bryan said of No. 15. “And I knew 16 being a short par-4, not an overly tough pin location, I figured I needed one, maybe two coming to the house.

“And luckily, the guys out in front, or that were just behind me, didn’t make any birdies. And I was just kind of able to limp in, so to speak.”

With his win at Harbour Town Golf Links, Bryan earned 500 FedExCup points and rose to 14th in the standings. He was 59th.

Bryan also earned a spot in this year’s Players Championship (May 11-14), the Dean and Deluca Invitational (May 25-28), the Memorial Tournament (June 1-4) and the PGA Championship (Aug. 10-13). Additionally, he will have an invitation to the 2018 Masters Tournament in Augusta, where he resides.

Bryan turned pro in 2012 and is playing his first year on the PGA Tour after previously playing on the Web.Com Tour. He and his brother George IV, another former Gamecock golfer, are also known for posting trick-shot videos on their YouTube channel.

“This is special,” Bryan said. “This is one behind any major I would put up on my list pretty high.

“To be able to knock it down, especially in front of the home crowd. They were awesome out there today.”

Luke Donald finished in second place for the fifth time at Harbour Town (2016, ’14, ’11, ’09), a single stroke behind Bryan at 12-under. The Englishman shot 3-under on the day after beginning the round at 9-under.

Donald carded three birdies on the back nine and two on the front, but began his day with a double bogey on No. 2. He hit into the tree line on No. 3, landed in the rough on Nos. 4, 11 and 15, and had to chip from the greenside bunker on 17.

He finished his round ahead of Bryan and had to wait to see if his 12-under might once again become a leading score.

“I just keep trying,” Donald said. “Obviously, it’s a place I feel comfortable and I like and I’ve had a lot of success. … I’ve got to just keep pounding away, and hopefully I’ll get there.”

Patrick Cantlay, Ollie Schniederjans and William McGirt tied for third at 11-under, while third-round leader Jason Dufner fell back to 8-under after tallying four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round.

“Yeah, I hit it great all day,” McGirt said. “I made one bad swing off the tee on 12. Took my medicine, made my bogey.”

Defending champion Branden Grace shot 3-under in the final round, leaving him at 8-under 276 overall and tied for 11th. He carded three birdies on the front nine and two on the back, while tallying two bogeys in his final round.

“It was all right,” Grace said. “Obviously, I would have enjoyed to be a few better.

“I thought I played a lot better than what the end result was. Yesterday and today, I left a few out there.”

Graham DeLaet, who began the day in second place at 12-under, made four bogeys and a triple bogey in the final round as he attempted to snag his first career PGA Tour win.

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