April 21, 2013

McCombs: Nothing lucky about McDowell's win in RBC Heritage

The old saying goes, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

The old saying goes, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

But usually, what many call luck is really the result of someone being good.

That was certainly true of Graeme McDowell in Sunday's final round of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

McDowell was on the range staying loose when it happened.

When Webb Simpson's 22-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 slipped 3 feet past the hole, something uncommon happened -- a second chance in golf.

"You don't get a second chance very often in this sport," McDowell conceded afterward.

Two groups earlier at 18, holding a one-stroke lead over Simpson, McDowell had missed a putt, as well. A 12-footer for par. It accounted for his only bogey of the day and wrestled fate from his hands.

"I was controlling my own destiny, McDowell said. "If I two-putt there, I'm the winner. But I don't. And yes, I have to dodge a bullet."

But with Simpson's miss, McDowell did dodge that bullet, finishing in a tie with him at 9 under just as it appeared his stellar final round might only be good enough for second on a windy day at Harbour Town Golf Links.

The 2010 U.S. Open champion carefully plotted his way around the course for most of the afternoon, manipulating the wind like a seasoned sailor and making several par saves that turned out to be huge.

The biggest may have been on the par-4 No. 13.

After pulling his tee shot left, McDowell hit the tip of a branch with his second shot and found the sand well short of the hole. His trap shot was poor, leaving him a 25-foot putt to stay a stroke off the lead at the time.

He rolled it in. No luck to it.

"Looking back," McDowell said, "it really set me up to make a good par on the next two holes and birdie 16 and play as well as I did coming in."

As McDowell was putting for par on No. 14, Charley Hoffman bogeyed 12 and McDowell moved into a tie for the lead for the first time. After a par at 15 despite finding the right fairway bunker, McDowell's birdie at 16 gave him the outright lead.

And it's in that stretch where McDowell stayed patient and never made the big mistake. With the wind shifting and gusting and conditions at their worst, that's where McDowell really won the RBC Heritage -- not on the 18th green.

McDowell doesn't feel like he got lucky to get into a playoff.

"You give me 10 shots, I'll get that done eight or nine times," McDowell said.

Lucky or not, McDowell was good on Sunday. The best, even.

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