John Merrick has yet to win a PGA TOUR event, but the UCLA alum and Long Beach, Calif. resident is three strokes back of leader Bill Haas through three rounds of the 2013 Northern Trust Open.
Merrick followed up rounds of 68 and 66 with a 1-under 70 on Saturday to enter the final round at 9-under for the tournament tied with two others. He started off his round red-hot, drilling a six foot eagle putt on the first hole. Three bogeys on the front nine, however, made things difficult. He had another roller coaster ride on the back nine when he made another eagle on the 11th hole only to follow that up with bogey on the 18th.
“I’ll take it,” he told reporters following the match. “I played the par 5s great. You’re going to have to make a lot of putts out here because you’re not going to hit every green. You know you’re going to be chipping and you have to make those putts inside ten feet. But I was generally happy with the day.”
Course management is the mantra around the historic Riviera Country Club, a course Merrick grew up just 40 minutes away from in nearby Long Beach. He had friends and family cheering him on throughout “UCLA Day” at the tournament., and the former Bruin enjoyed every minute of it. He realized that he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to catch Haas.
Merrick will tee off at 10:19 a.m. along with Luke Donald and Fredrik Jacobsen. Television coverage will begin at 10:00 a.m. PT on the Golf Channel and switch over to CBS at noon.
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