With a routine par on the No. 10, the second playoff hole, Southern California native John Merrick captured his first PGA TOUR victory at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.
The win makes Merrick the first Los Angeles-area product to win the storied tournament. In doing so, he fired a final round, 2-under 69 to enter a playoff with Charlie Beljan. After both players got up-and-down for pars on the first playoff hole on the 18th, Beljan hit his tee shot on the second playoff hole No. 10 well left and made a bogey.
“I can’t even put it into words right now,” he told David Feherty of CBS Sports. “You know growing up as a kid coming out here playing. I just wanted to play this tournament, and to win it is unbelievable. I can’t even put it into words right now.”
At one point, Merrick had the lead when he reached 12-under for the tournament, but a bogey on the par 4 13th brought him back to the rest of the pack with a host of others. Fredrik Jacobsen had a two-foot par putt on the 18th to reach the playoff with Beljan and Merrick, but missed it to finish at 10 under with Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel.
Merrick, however, braved all of the pressure that comes with playing in front of a fan base in his corner. The UCLA alum said earlier in the week that he played the course over 30 times in his career. With the win, he will also qualify to play in The Masters Tournament in April.
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