McDowell prevails in playoff

Published: Monday, Apr. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 22, 2013 - 6:16 am

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – For all the big moments in Graeme McDowell's career, his résumé was short on PGA Tour victories.

McDowell relished what he called his first authentic tour win, defeating fellow U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson in a playoff at the RBC Heritage on Sunday.

McDowell's been at the center of some of golf's biggest moments, from his rousing Open triumph at Pebble Beach in 2010 to capturing the winning point for Europe in that year's Ryder Cup. He has six European Tour victories, too, but he hadn't triumphed in the weekly grind of the world's top tour.

"This game kicks you more often than it gives you a pat on the back," McDowell said. "It's hard to win."

Not on this day for McDowell, who pushed forward on wind-blown Harbour Town Golf Links when his rivals were moving backward, unnerved by the 20 to 30 mph winds.

He rallied from four strokes down when the day began to take a one-shot lead into the 72nd hole.

Then, after he made his only bogey of the round to fall into tie with Simpson, two-putted from 15 feet to make a par on the extra hole that Simpson couldn't match.

"I guess the weather was what the doctor ordered. I needed that to get close to the leaders," McDowell said.

McDowell closed with a 2-under-par 69, one of only three scores in the 60s Sunday.

Simpson, last year's U.S. Open winner, shot a 71. He had a chance to win in regulation, but his 22-footer for birdie slid just past the hole.

"I came in with not too much confidence, but I just stayed true to the process of what we've been working on," Simpson said.

Charley Hoffman, the 54-hole leader, ballooned to a 77 and fell into a tie for sixth.

McDowell acknowledged he was frustrated after missing the cut last week at the Masters. If he had made the cut, McDowell wondered if he'd have had the motivation to win at Harbour Town.

"It's funny the way things happen," he said.

Champions Tour in Duluth, Ga. – Bernhard Langer added to his impressive start to the season by closing with a 5-under 67 to win the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship by three strokes over Tom Lehman (67) and Tom Pernice Jr. (70).

European Tour in Valencia, Spain – Raphael Jacquelin (1-under 71) won a record-tying playoff at the Spanish Open, edging Maximilian Kieffer (71) with a birdie on their ninth try at the 18th hole. Felipe Aguilar (70) was eliminated earlier in the playoff.

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