Graeme McDowell beat Webb Simpson in a playoff at the RBC Heritage to win what he described as his first authentic PGA Tour title, as his only previous win in the U.S. came at the 2010 U.S. Open when he wasn’t a member of golf’s richest circuit.
McDowell, 33, overcame gusting winds and a four-shot final-round deficit to get into the playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina yesterday. As McDowell made par on the first extra hole, Simpson’s birdie putt from off the green rolled seven feet (2.1 meters) past the cup after being caught by a wind gust and he missed the par attempt.
“I needed the golf course to play difficult,” McDowell, who received $1.04 million, said at a news conference. “If it had been benign, four shots back, one of the two guys goes and shoots 4- or 5-under par, and it’s all over. I needed the course to play tough and I got that.”
McDowell, who started the final day four strokes behind third-round leader Charley Hoffman, shot a 2-under-par 69 yesterday that included his lone bogey at the 18th hole. Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, shot a final-round 71 and matched McDowell with a four-round total of 9-under par 275.
Simpson’s bogey in the playoff gave McDowell his first win in a full-field event since the European Tour’s 2010 Andalucia Valderrama Masters. He’d also won Tiger Woods’s year-ending invitational event, the World Challenge, in 2010 and 2012.
“The U.S. Open was a special victory, but I wasn’t a PGA Tour member,” Northern Ireland’s McDowell said. “This is my first PGA Tour victory as member.”
Luke Donald and Kevin Streelman tied for third at 7-under par, one shot better than Jerry Kelly. Hoffman shot a final-round 77 to tie for sixth place at 5-under.
The PGA Tour next heads to Avondale, Louisiana, for the $6.6 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans, held April 25-28.