by Jeff Skinner
It’s about as close to a hometown win as you can get at The Northern Trust Open. John Merrick played here dozens of times with his teammates from nearby UCLA but never played so with so much pressure as he did on Sunday.
It’s a corny Hollywood script from the fifties but none the less a real life dream come true. The Long Beach born Merrick heads to UCLA for college and captures his first PGA Tour win in what essentially amounts to a home course.
Merrick joined the PGA Tour in 2007 and his previous best finish was a second place last season at the St. Jude Classic. It took 169 PGA starts for Merrick to claim his win but winning here made it seem worth the wait.
For the second year in a row the Northern Trust Open came down to a playoff that finished on the artfully difficult 10th hole. While others chose driver off the tee as did Merrick’s playoff opponent, Charlie Beljan did, Merrick used his years of experience at Riviera to play three iron off the tee all week. He finished the week at two under par on the 10th including his tournament winning par in the playoff.
Take a look at Merrick here, he can barely speak as the emotion of the moment overcomes him.