More PGA Tour stars will chase $20 million purse at Hilton Head’s 2023 RBC Heritage

The purse at the 2023 RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island will more than double — and appearances by golf’s most popular players will be guaranteed.

PGA Tour made the announcements Wednesday, thrilling the director of the longstanding Lowcountry PGA Tour event.

In a memo sent to its members, the PGA Tour announced that four additional events will get elevated purses and guaranteed appearance by stars in 2023, and each of those events, it said, will have $20 million purses.

The events are the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head, the WM Phoenix Open, RWells Fargo Championship and Travelers Championship.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store to be honest with you,” Steve Wilmot, the RBC Heritage tournament director, told the Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet on Wednesday following the formal announcement. “It’s a true compliment to our community and our tournament.”

Wilmot learned that the RBC Heritage was among the tournaments that would be getting a bigger purse and more top players while he was attending another South Carolina PGA Tour event — The CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club near Ridgeland — on Wednesday.

As the representative of the RBC Heritage, Wilmot said, players and PGA Tour officials attending that tournament reached out to congratulate him.

“It’s a really exciting day for our community,” Wilmot said, “and golf in South Carolina.”

The elevated status means the best and most popular golfers — like Scottie Scheffler, who is currently ranked No. 1 on the PGA Tour, Rory McIllroy, Jon Rahm and others — will be coming to Hilton Head to play the RBC Heritage.

And the Heritage’s purse will jump from around $8 million to $20 million.

The RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines has been around since 1969. The 2023 tournament, its 55th year, begins April 10 with practice rounds and run through April 16. Tickets are now on sale.

But the four newly announced elevated events are for 2023 only, the PGA Tour said. The tournaments will rotate, meaning four different tournaments could get the elite designation in 2024.

The number of elite tournaments increases

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan previously announced 13 tournaments with elevated status with the innovations designed to bring the game’s top players together more often including the four majors, The Players Championship, three FedExCup Playoffs events and the Tour Championship.

Players who finished in the top 20 in the 2022 Player Impact Program are required to participate in all elevated events for which they are eligible, as well as at least three additional events. That program rewards the PGA Tour’s most-popular players for the value they bring to the game. It’s based on a variety of metrics including TV sponsor exposure and internet searches. Tiger Woods finished atop the inaugural Player Impact Program in 2021.

Bringing the top players together more often is a huge win for fans and partners, the PGA Tour said.

“When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football,” McIlroy said at the Tour Championship. “When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car.”

In the past, attracting multiple top-ranked PGA Tour players to the RBC Heritage has been challenging because it falls the week after the Masters at Augusta National — one of four majors on the Tour and considered the premiere event in the golf world.

Jordan Spieth won the RBC Heritage this year.

Jordan Spieth hits out of the bunker on the playoff hole Sunday at the RBC Heritage. His ball landed inches from the hole allowing him to put for par and win the tournament. Scott Schroeder for the Island Packet
Jordan Spieth hits out of the bunker on the playoff hole Sunday at the RBC Heritage. His ball landed inches from the hole allowing him to put for par and win the tournament. Scott Schroeder for the Island Packet

The creation of the elite tier of tournaments is a response to LIV Golf, the professional golf tour financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Many of the PGA Tour’s top names have defected for LIV Golf, including Bruce Keopka and Phil Mickelson.

The 1st hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing on Sunday April 17 2022 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Scott Schroeder for the Island Packet
The 1st hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing on Sunday April 17 2022 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Scott Schroeder for the Island Packet

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