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.