Bob Gillespie



Not exactly a seagull

Posted 4/13/2012 10:07:00 PM

They didn’t halt Friday’s play at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing – no need, as it turned out – but the PGA Tour players strolling up the 18th fairway at Harbour Town Golf Links couldn’t help but look up in wonder.

Precisely at noon, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner soared over the trees and flew most of the length of the hole, banking right over the sky boxes at the green and then looping high over Calibogue Sound before heading back to Boeing’s flight line near the Charleston airport. Hundreds of fans gazed skyward and dozens of media cameras clicked away to record this first-ever event at the RBC Heritage.

The fly-over celebrated Boeing’s presenting-sponsor status with the 44-year-old PGA Tour tournament. As impressive as the huge passenger aircraft was as it flew overhead at “officially 1,000 feet” – but apparently closer to 500 feet – was what was missing.

Sound. No ear-shattering roar, but rather a soft hum emitted by the large twin nacelles. Just as Jack Jones had predicted.

“That’s the most impressive thing. You’re not going to hear a lot,” Jones, vice president and general manager for Boeing South Carolina, said before the fly-over. “Most of us who are used to (fly-overs by) F-15s and Blue Angels, that big loud boom – this will be a hush.

“The engines are very quiet, which is a big deal in the world now with noise around airports. That’s one of most impressive things. It’s not silent, believe me, but when it’s 1,000 feet above you, you don’t hear that big roar, so you’ll know there’s something unique about it.”

Jones sat with dignitaries including Gov. Nikki Haley in one of the 18th-green sky boxes when the Dreamliner made its appearance. The aircraft had 15 minutes flight time to Hilton Head, then circled out of sight before its big moment.

The concept came from the Boeing Classic, a Champions Tour event in Seattle, where flyovers are “one of the signature activities,” Jones said. “We build airplanes, and we thought, what a great way to represent us, and our sponsorship.

“We said, ‘Let’s take that and bring it to the Heritage – another PGA golf event.’ This airplane was just getting out of flight test, just starting to deliver, so the ability to get it was not easy – but we got it.”

Boeing currently has eight Dreamliners flying for Japan Airlines. For South Carolina, the big date will be April 27, “when you’ll see them rolling out of South Carolina,” Jones said. “The first South Carolina-built 787s come off the line on 4/27. (That’ll be a) big, big day, not just for Boeing but also for the state.

“I think we all know what that means: It demonstrates to the world that we can build airplanes here.”

And, in doing so, create a moment both PGA Tour players and fans will remember a long time.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner scores a hole in one at the RBC Heritage

Welcome Back Booooo!

Two-time RBC Heritage champion Boo Weekley was back in winning form Friday, shooting a 5-under par 66 to grab a share of third place at 6-under through 36 holes. The native of Milton, Fla., best known for his good-ol’-boy demeanor and camouflage golf gear, has been a local favorite since capturing the tournament back-to-back in 2008-2009.

Weekley, who has dealt with injuries the past couple of years, said returning to Harbour Town always gives his game a lift. “I just like the layout,” he said. “It’s one of these golf courses when you stand on the tee box, you can envision every shot. Every shot is just like tree-lined, so you can kind of envision what you want to do with the golf ball.

“Every hole suits me in different ways, but it’s kind of like I can sit up there, no matter if I block it right or pull it left – I still feel like I’ve got a shot somewhere in my bag that I can get it up and down to make par.”

Weekley’s love affair is with more than Harbour Town, though. Nowhere else does he get the reception he receives there, he said.

“Not unless I play at my home golf course,” he said to laughter. “That’s as close as it gets. It feels like home. The people around here are just as nice and genuine as they can be. Even when you hit a bad shot, when you walk by the ropes, (they say) ‘It’s OK, get this up and down.’

“And not only are they saying it to me, they’re saying it other people, like Lee Janzen and the guys I was playing with. It shows the support here for this tournament is big. And it means a lot to us players to know that even though we hit a bad shot, you don’t hear them saying, ‘Oh, I could’ve hit better than that.’ And lot of times, you do hear that – ‘What was he thinking?’”

Weekley laughed. “This is a good place,” he said.

Glover plays hurt

Mere minutes before he was to tee off in Thursday’s first round, Greenville native Lucas Glover contemplated withdrawing from the RBC Heritage. Instead, he played with a pulled muscle near his left rib cage, shooting a 1-over 72 that he matched on Friday to finish 2-over 144.

“It was game-time decision,” Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, said. “I came out early to give the alternate plenty of time (if he withdrew). Luckily, I was able to go, and played well but didn’t make any putts on the front nine. But for where I was (Wednesday) compared today, I’m pretty excited just to get through 18 holes.”

Glover said he pulled a “QL muscle” – “that’s what they told me in the (fitness) trailer. I have no idea what that is; you can Google it” – last Tuesday while at the Masters. “I cut practice short and played through it; if it wasn’t the Masters, I wouldn’t have played,” he said. Glover missed the cut at Augusta National.

“It’s still hurting pretty good,” he said. “The only time it hurts is when I’m at address position, and when I rotate.” Pretty much any time he hits a full shot, in other words.

But he decided to play this week, caddie Don Cooper said, because “he loves this event. It would’ve broken his heart if he couldn’t have played in it – and he took that extra step to make sure we were able to play.”