Heritage official says Tour supports funding plan

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation says the PGA Tour supports a plan to use local, state and private money to keep the Heritage on Hilton Head Island.

However, a definitive resolution still appears far from being reached.

Gov. Nikki Haley opposes using state money for the tournament.

The Island Packet reports Simon Fraser told Town Council on April 5 that the plan would use a mix of $30 million over five years if a title sponsor can't be found by the end of the month.

Officials have been looking for a sponsor since Verizon ended its sponsorship last year. This year's tournament at Sea Pines resort starts April 21.

Under the proposal, the town would provide $6 million over five years and the county another $1 million. Sea Pines would pay $3 million and the state $18 million.

Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour's executive vice president of communications, told The Island Packet that the tour would be willing to consider it as long as new taxes aren’t involved.

“If this is just a reallocation of existing budget revenue, that would be fine,” Votaw said. “But we need to make it clear we view this as a backup plan.”

He told the newspaper that the Tour prefers a single title sponsor and is “in active discussions” with a number of candidates.

• • •

photo

Sam Saunders follows his shot from the bunker onto the 17th green during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf.

Three former Clemson golfers, including Arnold Palmer's grandson, have been added to the field for the Heritage.

Tournament director Steve Wilmot said April 6 that ex-Tigers Sam Saunders, Ben Martin and Charles Warren were given sponsor exemptions into the PGA Tour event later this month. Saunders, Palmer's grandson, turned pro last season.

Martin had made four cuts in eight PGA Tour events this season. Warren has won three times on the Nationwide Tour. His best finish at the PGA Tour event is second place, at the 2007 Reno-Tahoe Open.

The Associated Press was used in this report.

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