HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- On a day when more players shot in the 80s than in the 60s, a player who grew up playing in the wind in Northern Ireland stood alone Sunday at the RBC Heritage.
Graeme McDowell beat Webb Simpson on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff between former U.S. Open champions at Harbour Town.
After McDowell bogeyed the final hole of regulation to let Simpson back in the picture, he made par on the same hole to defeat Simpson, who ran his 6-foot putt past.
The win is the first of the season for McDowell, who moves from 50th to sixth in the FedExCup standings, his highest ranking since January 2011.
Through the first 17 holes, it looked like there wouldn't be a need for a playoff.
Despite Harbour Town playing nearly three strokes over par on a windswept afternoon along Calibogue Sound, McDowell was flawless, making three birides and no bogeys to reach 10 under and a one-shot lead with one hole to play.
But McDowell's approach to the difficult 18th was slightly long, leaving him 44 feet to the hole.
The 2010 U.S. Open winner ran his first putt 12 feet by and missed the par save coming back.
That kept Simpson's hopes alive.
Playing two groups behind McDowell in the day's final pairing and standing on the tee, Simpson split the fairway and hit his approach to 20 feet.
His birdie attempt came up just short and he tapped in to force a playoff.
Both men found the fairway in the playoff, but Simpson missed the green right on his approach, while McDowell left himself 12 feet from underneath the hole.
Using his putter, Simpson nearly holed his next shot before the ball tumbled 6 feet past.
"I never thought a putt was in more than that one," Simpson said. "With a foot to go it was in."
McDowell's birdie try came up just short of the hole, leaving Simpson a chance to extend the playoff.
Simpson missed the putt, however, running it by the right edge.
Graeme McDowell carded a 2-under 69 and then defeated Webb Simpson in a playoff in windy conditions to win the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on Sunday. It is McDowell's second PGA TOUR win (2010 U.S. Open).
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- With increasing wind and bad weather headed this way, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell were among those to take advantage of a morning tee time Friday at Harbour Town.
Donald, who lost here in a playoff two years ago, carded a 68 to enter the weekend 5 under and near the top of the leaderboard.
McDowell was one better with a 67 to get to 4 under.
Here's a look at what they had to say after their rounds.
Donald on feeling better about his game in the second round: "(Thursday) was a little bit of a struggle. I didn't really have much control over the trajectory of my shots. The greens are still holding, which is nice. So you can attack some of the pins.
"I managed my game very well. I kind of didn't feel very comfortable over the ball, but I missed it in spots that I needed to miss it. It wasn't terrible golf, it just wasn't controlling trajectory like I'd like to, when you know you're not under control."
McDowell on how Harbour Town suits his style of play: It is a golf course that sets up well for me. You don't have to move it very far off the tee, but you have to position it really well. And you have to play patient golf, which suits my type of play.
"It doesn't need to be long. Modern technology has not sort of made this golf course old‑fashioned in any shape or form. Sometimes the fairway is not good enough, you have to be on the left side or the right side, 300 yards might be too much and 250 might not be enough at times. The guy that wins here this week will have control of his golf ball."
Bubba Watson rolls in a 44-foot birdie putt early in the final round at Bay Hill, while Graeme McDowell sinks a 24-footer for birdie on No. 10.
DDORAL, Fla. -- Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell will tee off in just over an hour from now in the day's final group. Here's a look at their previous head-to-head battles:
Year Round Tournament McDowell (score/finish) Woods (score/finish)
2013 3 WGC-Cadillac Championship 69 (TBD) 67 (TBD)
2012 4 Arnold Palmer Invitational 74 (2nd) 70 (1st)
2011 1 WGC-Cadillac Championship 70 (T42) 70 (T10)
2011 2 WGC-Cadillac Championship 73 (T42) 74 (T10)
2011 1 The Masters 74 (MC) 71 (T4)
2011 2 The Masters 73 (MC) 66 (T4)
2009 3 The Masters 73 (T17) 70 (T6)
2010 1 WGC-HSBC Champions* 74 (T34) 68 (T6)
2010 2 WGC-HSBC Champions* 71 (T34) 72 (T6)
2010 3 Chevron World Challenge* 68 (1st) 68 (2nd)
2010 4 Chevron World Challenge* 69 (1st) 73 (2nd)
*Unofficial events on the PGA TOUR at the time
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- Graeme McDowell is the only player without a bogey on his scorecard through the first two rounds at TPC Blue Monster.
The last time he did make one here actually extends back to the 12th hole in the final round of the 2012 tournament, and he has just one bogey in his last 57 holes in this event.
One reason he's avoided bogeys this week: Scrambling.
Last year, McDowell ranked 177th on the PGA TOUR in scrambling, saving par (or better) just 52 percent of the time.
This season, that number is up to 71 percent. And this week McDowell is the only player with a perfect mark, going 9-for-9 from around the greens.
At last week's Honda Classic, McDowell also led the field in scrambling, going 23 for 30. He finished ninth.
The rest of his game hasn't been too shabby, either. McDowell leads the field in fairways hit, is eighth in greens in regulation, fifth in proximity to the hole and seventh in strokes gained-putting.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- When Graeme McDowell won last year at Sherwood Country Club, he gained more than just a victory over the tournament's host.
"I guess I found a little state of mind at Tiger's event," McDowell said. "I felt very under control and calm emotionally and I've found that really is the best place for me to be when I'm playing great golf."
Friday he did just that, shooting a 67 at TPC Blue Monster to get to 11 under with two rounds to play in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
He'll need that sense of calm come Saturday, too. McDowell will be paired with Woods, who leads by two, in the day's final group.
"I feel like I've learned a lot over the years playing with him," McDowell said. "(Saturday) is not about winning the golf tournament. (It's) just about maintaining position, maintaining the way I'm playing and trying to give myself a chance come Sunday afternoon."
Chief among the things McDowell has learned is to not be intimidated by the "circus" that Woods brings to a final pairing on the weekend of a star-studded tournament.
"It's more the environment that goes on inside and outside the ropes; a little louder, a little busier," McDowell said. "I've learned to understand and control and deal with and get acclimated to it.
"End of the day, it really doesn't matter who you're playing with. You're playing against the golf course."
Not that McDowell didn't notice the leaderboard, which included Phil Mickelson, who nearly played his way into the final pairing.
"I'm sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group tomorrow," McDowell said. "It would have been great for the tournament. It brings the crowds and puts people behind their TV screens and that's what's important.
"I saw Phil sneaking up the leaderboard there behind me and I said to (my caddie) Kenny (Comboy), 'Let's spoil this party tomorrow.'"
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Jason Day earned his way into the semifinals in a big way by taking down two major champions on Saturday.
After dispatching Bubba Watson with relative ease in the morning, Day had to dig deep in the afternoon when neither he nor Graeme McDowell had their best stuff.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion won the first hole with a conceded birdie and made another one at the third to go 2 up. When McDowell bogeyed the fourth and seventh holes, though, the match was square again.
Day took the lead for the first time with a birdie at the par-5 11th hole. McDowell then squared the match with a birdie at the 14th but Day answered with a 3-footer at the next to get back to 1 up.
Another see-saw spurt saw McDowell and Day trade wins with pars at Nos. 16 and 17. So Day took a 1-up lead to the 18th hole where he two-putted from 42 feet for the win and McDowell missed a 16-footer for birdie to extend the match.
"It was very stressful out there today," Day said. "I feel like my mind is going every which way right now. Just to play the way I did on the back nine was very, very special. The whole game today felt really, really nice, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
"You know, myself and G Mac, we really didn't play our best, but you've just got to do enough. That's because you're just playing against a guy that's across the tee from you. I've got Matt Kuchar tomorrow, and I know he's very slow and steady, hits a lot of fairways and greens and can roll the rock when he can, and I'm looking forward to that."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made four birdies and two bogeys. McDowell made five birdies and four bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. McDowell won four holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Day plays Matt Kuchar, who beat Robert Garrigus 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.
MARANA, Ariz -- Shane Lowry became the first No. 64 seed to advance into the round of 16, but that is where it ended for the Irishman.
Lowry, who upset world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the first round, ran into a red-hot Graeme McDowell on Saturday morning -- McDowell reeled off five birdies on the front nine to quickly seize the match.
Lowry took the early lead with a 10-footer for birdie at the par-5 second. But he gave that edge back -- and then some --with bogeys at the next two holes, and then McDowell went to work.
The Northern Irishman won the fifth, seventh and ninth holes with birdies to go 4 up at the turn. The two halved the next five holes with four pars and a birdie and even after a rare McDowell mistake at No. 15 it was just a matter of time.
"With the possibility of another 18 holes this afternoon, I was very keen to get the match out of the way as soon as I could, especially when I was 3 and 4 up," McDowell said.
"But Shane is a gritty competitor, very difficult to get the poker face on and really knuckle down and play Shane, being a good friend like he is. When he hit that pin with the flop shot on 13, I was licking my chops there thinking I had a chance to go 5 up with five to play, and all of a sudden I found myself down 16 and really not wanting to go down much past that."
SCORECARD STATS: McDowell made six birdies, nine pars and a bogey. Lowry had three birdies, 11 pars and two bogeys.
HOLES WON: McDowell won five holes. Lowry won two holes.
NEXT UP: McDowell plays Jason Day, who beat Bubba Watson 4 and 3.