South Carolina

‘This year’s Heritage is our Heritage’: Hilton Head’s RBC opens with cannon blast

Defending RBC Heritage champion starts tournament with tee shot into Calibogue Sound

RBC Heritage 2018 winner and defending champion Satoshi Kodaira hits the ceremonial tee shot.
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RBC Heritage 2018 winner and defending champion Satoshi Kodaira hits the ceremonial tee shot.

Last year the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing cannon went off 50 days early to mark the countdown to the 2018 opening celebration of the tournament’s 50 years on Hilton Head. 

But it never saw the light of day when the actual opening day came: A steady rain kept the cannon in storage. 

This year was a different story. 

A beautiful, near humidity-free day allowed the cannon to take its spot looking out onto Calibogue Sound, but the morning did have its difficulties. 

Strong and steady winds blowing off the sound kept people holding onto their hats, and the Rev. John Wall worried about his kilt. 

But Wall stayed on task — and his kilt did too — as he talked about the importance of the tournament, the history of golf in the state and tying in the history of the event with a memorable line, “This Heritage is our Heritage.”

For the 50th anniversary RBC Heritage golf tournament, a new trigger mechanism means the timing of the Heritage cannon's firing can be more accurate.

The wind wasn’t an issue for 29-year-old Satoshi Kodaira as he hit the ceremonial tee shot into Calibogue Sound. It being, at the very least, the 51st golf ball to rest somewhere in the pluff mud there.

Kodaira said, through an interpreter, that he knew the cannon firing, timed with his swing, was going to be loud, but “not that loud.”

And while Tiger Woods won’t be playing in this year’s Heritage, tournament director Steve Wilmot said the leaderboard is going to be incredible for the week with the likes of Dustin Johnson, who had a great week at the “event up the road.”

Wilmot was, of course, referring to The Masters at Augusta National Golf Course, where Johnson tied for second and comes home to South Carolina as the world’s top-ranked golfer.

RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing tournament director Steve Wilmot talks to the media on the 18th green after the opening ceremonies for the week long tournament in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Drew Martin

If Kodaira can win it again, he’ll bring home $1.242 million of the $6.9 million purse.

Tournament play starts Thursday, and current weather reports look positive for the PGA Tour event that is expected to wrap up on Sunday.

We’ll see if the wind sticks around too.