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, beating fellow U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson in a playoff at the RBC Heritage 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 PGA Europe 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," he 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, he two-putted from about 15 feet to make 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 had 69, one of three scores in the 60s among the 70 who teed off Sunday. He and Simpson (71), the reigning U.S. Open winner, finished at 9-under 275 in regulation.
Simpson 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.
Charley Hoffman, the 54-hole leader, shot 77 and fell into a tie for sixth with Russell Henley (69) and Chris Stroud (70).
CHAMPIONS: Bernhard Langer added to his impressive season by shooting 67 to win the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga., by three strokes.
Langer, 55, who finished at 10-under 206, took control with a long chip-in for birdie on No. 10 for his 18th senior tour win. He had six birdies for his fifth top-three finish in six events this season. He also won the Ace Group Classic in Naples.
Esteban Toledo, the second-round leader, fell out of contention with double bogeys on 11 and 12 on his way to 75.