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G-Mac back on top after Heritage playoff triumph

updated 7:16 AM EDT, Mon April 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell wins Heritage after playoff
  • He beats reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson at first extra hole
  • Pair had finished on nine under 275 in regulation play
  • First regular tour win in America for 2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell

(CNN) -- Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell underlined his reputation of being a golfer who relishes tough links style conditions as he beat reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson at the first hole of a sudden death playoff Sunday to win the Heritage tournament in South Carolina.

McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open winner at the iconic Pebble Beach course, his first and only major to date, used these skills to come out on top again at a windswept Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island.

"It's a very major-esque golf course," he told the official PGA Tour website.

"It's got a huge amount to do with the way the golf course sets up, discipline, patience, all these words that are required to play well around here."

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The Ryder Cup star came from four off the pace to card a two-under 69 in the final round, defying gusts of up to 45mph (72kph), which blew many of his rivals out of contention.

His only mistake came on the testing closing hole as a bogey five left him on nine-under 275.

Simpson joined him on that mark after a level par 71, missing a 22-footer on the last for outright victory.

England's Luke Donald matched his Ryder Cup colleague McDowell with a 69 -- only three men shot under 70 on the final day -- to share third place with Kevin Streelman.

Overnight leader Charley Hoffman fell away with a six-over 77 to finish in a tie for sixth.

McDowell and Simpson returned to the 18th for the first extra hole and both hit excellent drives.

But Simpson missed the green with his approach while McDowell hit a superb shot to 15 feet.

Simpson used his long putter for his third and it looked set to finish close to the cup until a massive gust of wind saw it roll over six-feet past.

With McDowell missing his birdie putt, Simpson needed to hole the return to prolong the contest, but it slipped by.

McDowell commiserated with his opponent as he gave his first reaction to his victory.

"I'm disappointed for Webb," he said. "He hit a great putt up there on this playoff hole -- he got a terrific gust of wind."

But McDowell, who goes up to No.8 in the new world rankings Monday, was delighted to register the first win for a European on the PGA Tour in 2013 and his first official victory since his triumph at Pebble Beach nearly three years ago.

"I played nicely all week," he said. "I played great Friday. The putter was cold most of the week and I really got it going today."

Both McDowell and Simpson had missed the cut at the preceding U.S. Masters, but found form to battle for victory a few short days later.

"It's funny the way things happen," McDowell. "I wouldn't swap this for a top 10 last week."

Masters winner Adam Scott sat out the tournament after his Augusta triumph.

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