Turn right onto Washington Road, go to East Boundary and on to Georgia 28. Cross the river, take South Carolina 125 and set sail toward the south and east. Following the GPS carries the elite of professional golfers from a pressure cooker to paradise.
The journey of about 150 miles requires less than three hours and leaves behind the major-championship stress created by the Masters in Augusta and leads to the more relaxed — but still demanding and highly competitive — atmosphere of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage and Hilton Head Island.
The cream of the PGA Tour, or at least those who made the Masters’ cut and did not take a quick trip home, will make that trek through rural South Carolina either Sunday evening or Monday with designs on earning shares of another $20 million purse.
The scenario is a dream come true for folks who cherish the Palmetto State’s annual stop on the PGA Tour. RBC Heritage tournament officials have long sought to attract all the top guns, and they will this year, thanks to the Heritage being a designated event for this season.
“We’ll show them all the great things they will find here,” tournament director Steve Wilmot promised. He will not have any challenges convincing Jordan Spieth or Patrick Cantlay of the wonders of the South Carolina Lowcountry. They engaged a playoff for the 2022 Heritage title and Spieth emerged the winner of the garish plaid coat that goes to champion.
But this year will be different, at least in terms of preparation, for the defending champion.
“I don’t watch golf if I miss the cut in the Masters,” Spieth said Sunday — and that meant he spent Masters’ Sunday 2022 getting ready for the Heritage. “This time last year, I was playing golf in Hilton Head.”
This year, though, he will not lift a club again until Tuesday afternoon, and even that work will not be strenuous. He figures he did the heavy-lifting preparation these past few days in Augusta.
“Yeah, I love that golf course (Harbour Town Golf Links),” he said. “It probably couldn’t be any more different than this place, but I really enjoy playing it. You have to think your way through it. Hopefully, it’s drier.
“(But) I can’t wait to take a couple days off, though, and then maybe Tuesday late afternoon kind of get in a few rhythmic swings and kind of get into it. ... So I won’t be as prepared, but contending in a major is pretty good prep.”
Spieth’s wanting time off comes from his schedule. He has played eight tournaments in the past 10 weeks and that, he said, “is too much golf.”
No regrets, he said, “but I would attest some of my decision-making just to a level of focus that I wish I had a little bit more of. I came in (to the Masters) mentally fatigued.”
That led to “a little lack of patience with the course being softer, thinking that meant I could try to attack more pins. ... You have to let the course come to you out here. I do a better job here than anywhere else, and it left me this week.”
Considering his lofty finish, imagine had he been fully focused. As it was, he and Phil Mickelson engaged in an old-fashioned shootout Sunday worthy of the final paring in the year’s first major championship.