Merrick gets his first PGA Tour win at Riviera
BY Associated Press
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 5:52 AM
John Merrick was a young face in the crowd at Riviera for so many years, dreaming of one day playing the fabled course on the PGA Tour.
On Sunday, he did better than that. He won on it.
Merrick hit two clutch shots that led to two pars in a sudden-death playoff and won the Northern Trust Open on Sunday in Los Angeles when Charlie Beljan missed a 5-foot par putt on the second extra hole.
Merrick, who closed with a 2-under 69, became only the ninth player make this tournament is first PGA Tour victory. It could not have come at a better place. Merrick grew up in Long Beach, attended this event as a kid and went to school down the street at UCLA.
"I can't put this into words," he said off the 10th green, his eyes welling with tears. "Growing up as a kid, coming out here, I just wanted to play this tournament."
It was a tough finish for Beljan, famous for having an anxiety attack when he won at Disney late last year. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, similar to the theatrics provided last year by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, to close with a 4-under 67 and wind up in a playoff.
He had to make a tough 6-foot putt for par on No. 18 on the first playoff hole. Going to the par-4 10th, 315 yards of sheer nerves, Beljan drove long and left, and his chip didn't reach the green. He putted his third shot just above the hole, and watched it slide by on the left for a bogey.
Beljan also made bogey on the 10th hole in regulation.
The key for Merrick might have been on the par-5 17th in regulation, when he pulled his second shot from a bunker toward the eucalyptus trees, only to find that he had just enough of a gap to go at the green and escape with par.
Merrick, who finished at 11-under 273, moved to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup and is virtually assured of qualifying for his first World Golf Championship next month at Doral.
Fredrik Jacobson missed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have put the Swede in a playoff. He wound up with a 69 and tied for third with Charl Schwartzel (70) and Bill Haas (73), who also had chances to win at different stages in their rounds.
The final round contained far more drama than anyone imagined at the start of the day, when Haas had a three-shot lead. Six players were separated by one shot going into the final hour at Riviera.
Former Oklahoma State star Hunter Mahan was tied for the lead after a 30-foot birdie on the 14th, only to drop four shots on the last four holes. Nothing stung worse than the par-5 17th, where he three-putted from about 30 feet for bogey. He wound up with a 69. Jacobson was tied for the lead when he missed an 8-foot birdie attempt on the 17th, and then badly pulled a 4-foot par putt on the last hole and missed out on the playoff. The Swede closed with a 69.
Langer wins ACE Group Classic: In Naples, Fla., Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 72 and won his second ACE Group Classic title in three years by one stroke.
Langer two-putted from 50 feet on the 18th for par to finish at 12-under 204, ahead of Jay Don Blake at TwinEagles Club's Talon Course.
Langer, who won this tournament in 2011 and was runner-up last year, survived three bogeys and a double bogey.
Jiyai Shin wins Australian Women's Open: In Canberra, Australia, South Korea's Jiyai Shin won the Australian Women's Golf Open by two shots, finishing with a 1-under 72 to beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng after being tied for the overnight lead with teenage star Lydia Ko.
Shin mixed three birdies with two bogeys in a final round battle with Ko and Tseng of Taiwan, and added the Australian title to her two British Opens among 37 professional victories.
Original Print Headline: Victory special for Merrick
John Merrick made a pair of clutch pars in a playoff with Charlie Beljan to win the Northern Trust Open on Sunday at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. REED SAXON / Associated Press