John Merrick claimed his first U.S. PGA Tour title by beating Charlie Beljan on the second playoff hole at golf’s Northern Trust Open.
After Merrick parred the par-4 10th hole, Beljan missed a five-foot par attempt needed to extend the playoff at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.
The 30-year-old Merrick, who received almost $1.2 million for his breakthrough win, is a native of Long Beach, California, which is about 30 miles south of Riviera Country Club, and attended the University of California at Los Angeles.
“Growing up here as a kid, I just wanted to play this tournament,” Merrick, who shot a 2-under-par 69 in the final round, said in a televised interview. “This is unbelievable.”
Beljan and Merrick made the playoff with a four-round total of 11-under par 273, one shot better than Fredrik Jacobson, Charl Schwartzel and defending champion Bill Haas. Jacobson was tied for the lead before missing a four-foot par putt at the 18th hole. Haas started the final round with a three-shot lead before closing with a 2-over-par 73.
The PGA Tour next moves to Marana, Arizona, for the $8.75 million World Golf Championships Match Play Championship, which begins Feb. 20. The event currently features 64 of the top 66 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is the top overall seed and will play Ireland’s Shane Lowry in the first round at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Second-seeded Tiger Woods, a three- time winner of the event, will face fellow American Charles Howell III in the opening round.
McIlroy, Woods, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen earned No. 1 seeds in the four 16-player brackets.
England’s Donald, the top overall seed a year ago, will face Germany’s Marcel Siem in his opening match. South Africa’s Oosthuizen, who climbed to fifth in the world rankings even though he didn’t play last week, takes on Scotland’s Richie Ramsay after getting one of the top four overall seeds with Brandt Snedeker’s withdrawal. Snedeker, who is ranked fourth in the world, pulled out with a rib injury.
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