It took 49 years before a Palmetto State golfer was able to put on the tartan jacket after winning the Heritage at Harbour Town.
Wesley Bryan was the South Carolina native who broke through for the first win by a state pro in the long history of the event.
Bryan’s win was the first, but there were several other golfers who made a run at being the first to win in their home state.
Before Bryan’s win Aiken’s Kevin Kisner was very close to a championship at the 2015 RBC Heritage. The Georgia grad came from three shots off the lead in the final round to force a playoff with Jim Furyk.
Kisner lost the playoff, but earned his highest finish in a PGA Tour event at that time finishing second.
Now a few years later, coming off the biggest win of his professional career, Kisner would still like to win his home state tournament, even if he would not be the first.
“I did want to be the first guy from South Carolina to win, but I let Wesley sneak in there and beat me,” he said. “This is probably my favorite event of the year. It is a cool place to come to, and bring your family and just hang out,” said Kisner.
Since his near miss for a win at the Heritage, Kisner has collected three wins and a handful of runner-up finishes on Tour.
He earned his first win at the RSM Classic in 2016. He won again at the Dean & Deluca Invitational in 2017.
His biggest victory came just a few weeks ago when he defeated Matt Kuchar in the finals of the World Golf Championship.
“I feel good. Having a week off after you win is huge. You kind of get your rest and get back to ground zero,” he said.
Kisner is like many of the top professionals who played at Augusta last week. They all welcome the laid back, easy going pace that their trip to Hilton Head provides after a pressure packed week at the Masters.
“Last week was such a grind. How long and how hard the week was, so to come back here to one of my favorite tournaments, I’m looking forward to playing well here. It is like a vacation,,” he said.
Kisner finished 21st at The Masters. He was five under par and had two rounds in the 60s in the event that saw Tiger Woods re-emerge to win his fifth green jacket.
The atmosphere at the Heritage can be relaxing, Kisner is focused on playing well and winning on a course he played often as a junior.
“Its just a golf course that fits my game well. I feel like I’m going to play well here when I show up and that is always a great feeling coming to a PGA Tour event thinking you are going to play well,” hje said.
While Kisner can not be the first South Carolinian to win the Heritage, he could be the first Georgia grad to claim the title.
“My game is probably in the best shape it has been in years. I feel really good with what I’m working on. I am starting to see a lot of results. I just need more golf courses like this one on the Tour,” he added.
In addition to Kisner, eight other golfers with Palmetto State ties will be in the tournament led by World #1 Dustin Johnson.
Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd, Sam Saunders, Bill Haas, Scott Brown and DJ Trahan will all be trying to win a second Tartan jacket for the Palmetto State.
The Golf Channel will have coverage from 3pm to 7pm on Thursday and Friday as well as early round coverage on Saturday and Sunday.
CBS will have the main coverage of the tournament on Saturday and Sunday starting at 3 pm each day.