Play-off joy for McDowell

Graeme McDowell claimed the RBC Heritage title after beating Webb Simpson in a play-off.

The two players were tied on nine under after 72 holes but it would take just one extra hole to separate them. A par at the first play-off hole was enough to see McDowell win his first tournament of the year after Simpson’s birdie putt was cruelly blown away from the cup, with the American then unable to salvage a par.

“I played nicely, I played nicely all week,” said the Northern Irishman.

“It’s a great golf course around here. I sat around with Jim Furyk earlier this week at a Q&A and he said you’re never out of this tournament, you just have to hang around. I did that.

“I’m disappointed for Webb there. He hit a great first putt on this play-off hole but he got a terrible gust of wind that took it another three or four feet. That was the way it was today – really tricky and gusty.”

In truth McDowell may feel a tad frustrated to have been drawn into a play-off, after his bogey at the 18th, his first of the day, saw him drop down into a share of the lead with Simpson.

Three birdies earlier in the day had set up the two-time major winner on a day in which the wind wrecked havoc with many players. Overnight leader Charley Hoffman was one of those to fade, carding a disappointing final round 77.

Simpson had no such problems first up, notching up birdies at two and three, but he then slipped up with bogeys at the fifth, eighth and tenth. However, a birdie at the 12th saw him arrest the slide.

Despite coming so close to claiming victory, Simpson tried to find positives in his performance.

“I came in with not too much confidence, but I just stayed true to the process of what we’ve been working on,” he commented.

Luke Donald grabbed a share third place after his 69, one of just three players to shoot a sub-70 round on Sunday, propelled him to six under, a mark also found by Kevin Streelman (72).

Having taken the turn at four under for the round, the Englishman faulted on the back nine, with bogeys at the 10th, 13th and 15th stymieing his charge.

Donald was left in now doubt as to what the most challenging factor at Hilton Head was.

“Strongest wind I’ve played in all year,” he commented after his round.

Jerry Kelly (71) was on his own in fifth on five under, with Hoffman, Russell Henley (69) and Chris Stroud (70) on four under.