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Hilton Head Island, S.C. • For all the big moments in Graeme McDowell's career, his resume was short on PGA Tour victories.
McDowell relished what he called his first authentic tour win, defeating fellow U.S. Open champ 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 triumph at Pebble Beach in 2010 to capturing the winning point for Europe in that year's Ryder Cup matches. He has six European PGA 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 Golf Links when his rivals were moving backward, unnerved by the 20-30 mph winds that rattled the course.
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 about 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," said McDowell, who earned $1,044,000 for the victory.
McDowell, from Northern Ireland, had a 69, one of only three scores in the 60s among the 70 who teed off Sunday.
Simpson, reigning U.S. Open winner, shot 71. He had a chance to win in regulation, but his 22-footer for birdie went 3 feet past and set up the additional 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.
Bernhard Langer added to his impressive Champions Tour season by shooting a 67 to win the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship by three strokes in Duluth, Ga.
The 55-year-old Langer, who finished 10 under, took control with a long chip-in for birdie on No. 10. He had six birdies for his fifth top-three finish in six events. Tom Lehman, whose 67 included birdies on 17 and 18, tied for second at 7 under with Tom Pernice Jr.
*-Graeme McDowell -9
Webb Simpson -9
Luke Donald -7
Kevin Streelman -7
Jerry Kelly -6*- won playoff