Merrick wins in LA

Posted: February 18, 2013

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 to make this tournament his first PGA Tour victory. It could not have come at a better place. Merrick grew up in Long Beach, attended the 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."

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.

In other tournaments:

* At Naples, Fla., Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 72 and won his second ACE Group Classic title in 3 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.

* At 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.

Noteworthy * 

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will face some familiar players in the opening round of the Match Play Championship, which starts Wednesday. McIlroy is the No. 1 seed at Dove Mountain, north of Tucson, Ariz. He will play Shane Lowry, of Ireland, who got in when Phil Mickelson chose not to play. Woods is the No. 2 and will play Charles Howell III.

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